What started as a Facebook group post response turned into a four-part course on hiring a marketing team or not… or something else.
Our recommendation for many small to mid-sized businesses is that something else, we’d call a Hybrid Marketing Team (HMT).
Hybrid Marketing Team – People
- The Owner or top manager – Likely, YOU! To keep in touch with the pulse of your business, you MUST be a part of the team.
- The Doer – As the owner/leader, you should NOT be doing everything! This person can be part-time, work from home, be a teen, but must have the skills to execute the vision.
- The Designer OR The Software – This is the optional 3rd position. If you are VERY well planned, you can consider a graphic designer to make things look nice, coordinate colors, and execute items in the plan. If you need the stuff to happen quick and on-site, replace this person with software tools, we’ll discuss.
The Owner / Manager Role. To combat the feeling of posts, ads, and emails feeling out of touch with the farm, you must be part of the plan. What we do at our farm is pull everyone in for a meeting about the upcoming events 1-2 months in advance of the event.
In that meeting, we have calendars out. (Use paper calendar printouts for this part so you can scribble ideas and see things. Digital calendars come later.) We talk through the schedule of posting, including the volume of posts, days, times, critical dates, such as discount ticketing dates, reservation cut-offs, etc.
Once we have the dates, we’ll brainstorm pictures, video, and LIVE video ideas. For instance, with our Sunflower Festival, we might plan, planting photos, seeding videos, early blooming, tent set-up, etc. and place them on the calendar.
After the month’s pre-meeting, The Owner & The Doer meet weekly for LIVE videos, timing updates, activities to schedule photos, and post updates.
The Doer – Our Doer is Janelle. She works just two days a week, plus events. Once we’ve had our monthly meeting, Janelle spends about half a day implementing and scheduling posts. She takes and organizes pictures for us (See Amir’s post on picture organizing. We use a similar system, less advanced in Dropbox. Amir uses Google Docs because he’s young and hip.)
Part of Janelle’s time on the payroll is specifically to take pictures of what’s going on and make posts. She is also in charge of making sure I ‘Go LIVE’ routinely with some activity or idea at least once each week. Once LIVE video is posted or even if I make another post from the farm, Janelle will share that post across our farm, maze, and winery channels.
After the first couple of months, Janelle captured the ‘voice’ of the farm, maze, and winery, so that she routinely makes posts with no supervision required. However, she appreciates when we hold the meeting to give her more material with which to work.
Even the BEST people need help filling all the social streams!
The Designer or The Software. The 3rd position on your team can be filled with a designer, but I feel strongly that you only need software once you are up and running.
We love our designer Audra and use her for all our websites, brochures, logos, and materials. For social media, however, she’s made a few templates, but we handle it from there.
In social media, I feel like, “Out the door on time is more important than perfectly gorgeous.”
We use several tools to get things out the door, and we’ll link to them for you.
- HootSuite.com allows you to schedule multiple social streams at one time.
- Social Sprout, Loomly – other scheduling tools we do not use currently.
- Facebook Itself – You can schedule posts from inside the Facebook newsfeed. Rumors have it that Facebook demotes pre-scheduled posts, so we purposefully schedule a third of our posts on Facebook, just to make sure we’re covering the bases.
- Canva.com we use for Facebook event covers, post graphics, Page Covers, and more. The Canva templates make sizing and spacing easy. We upload our pictures, then download the formatted post-ready items.
- Adobe Spark Post – If you are feeling a little more ambitious, Adobe Spark Post allows you to set your business colors, fonts, and templates, then, from your phone, you can apply the templates to make your posts, quotes, questions, etc. match your business image.
- Instagram & Instagram Stories – Lots of tools here to keep things interesting. Load your Instagram, swipe from left to right, select “Create,” and give each tool a try.
- Animoto for Videos – Animoto is a paid service, but it allows you to make short, templated videos with audio and floating text to spice things up. Janelle usually uses photos, dates, times, and details to make 20-45sec videos she’ll then use in posts throughout an event campaign.
A few final thoughts:
- You don’t need to use all these tools! In fact, you should use the minimum number of tools to get the job done.
- You may not need to hire anyone extra, but assign, and free the time for, someone on your staff to take over some of The Doer or Designer tasks.
- Planning saves time, payroll, and missed opportunities. All of our events, just like our produce, are perishable. I just talked to a Christmas Tree grower who worked like crazy to get ready for the season, it’s the week before Christmas, sales are down, and he’s too late to do anything about it. He missed his Event Marketing window because he didn’t plan for marketing.
- Make your hard work double count. Often we’ll film a LIVE video that gets significant viewership on Facebook, so we’ll share it with our other business’ FB pages. We download it from FB and upload it to YouTube. We link that video into the weekly email. It counts 2-3 times! Great photos and posts work across marketing channels, too.
We use the Hybrid Marketing Team here to manage the farm pick-your-own and market, the winery, sunflower festival, Maize Quest Fun Park, Wine Your Way Out, and the Wine-a-Ritaville Beach Party. It’s a total of (4) FB Pages, (4) Instagrams, (1) YouTube, plus 1-3 emails per week in season.
I hope this encourages you to evaluate the best option for your business. Let me know what you think, what you’ve tried, and how it has worked.
Have a great week,