The debate rages on: Should you hire a marketing firm or not hire a marketing firm? This debate is happening in my head, typically in Spring, as I look down the barrel of my upcoming to-do list and think, “Gosh, there are 1,000 marketing firms. Surely ONE of them could take this off my plate?!”
Spoiler Alert: I did hire a marketing company, then let them go. Then hired another one, then let them go. Then hired another one, then let them go (and that one was just this year!)
Spoiler-Spoiler Alert: We WERE marketing company at Maize Quest, and no longer are. However, we understand and have experienced this issue from both sides.
Part 1: I think you certainly SHOULD hire a marketing company.
Part 2: You certainly should NOT hire a marketing company.
Part 3: Problems YOU create for marketing companies.
Part 4: 3 People you should contract & HIRE to create a Hybrid Marketing Team.
You should hire a marketing company (MC for easy typing) if:
- You have a clear vision of EXACTLY what you want the company to do for you. (Sell wine? Sell tickets? Increase spend in the farm market? Do your social media posts?)
- You have enough money to pay for your marketing budget AND pay for the marketing company. No one works for FREE.
- The MC should have a great graphic design portfolio. (They all will.) Proven track record and references. (You should call the references.)
- The MC should also have some great plan, a strategy for you that they can layout for you.
Why Marketing Companies, almost by design, struggle to serve clients and grow at the same time.
Small firms you can afford. Often the owner is a great marketer. Just as you and I struggle to balance our time, the owner is usually the salesperson, too. Her time is then immediately split between serving customers and selling new clients. Until the owner can grow enough to pay for staff, the split continues but gets worse. Successful selling means less time for clients.
Once the firm staffs up, the owner can sell or service clients but doesn’t have to do both. Once the owner has salespeople and service people, unless great systems are in place, you no longer get the owner’s creativity and attention. Unfortunately, due to a much larger payroll to make each month, the MC’s rates go way up.
In large firms, if you get a good rep with a good team, you can get good service. In big firms, however, you can also get a new rep, a lousy rep, or both. Large firms ALWAY charge more, because they have significant overhead expenses.
Smaller MCs might offer better flexibility if you are a seasonal business. Large firms often are looking for monthly retainers and yearlong contracts.
Lessons from our experiences with marketing companies.
Each bout with a marketing company yielded at least ONE nugget of information or a tactic we kept using without the MC.
MC 1: Automated Email Welcome Sequences & automation in general. We learned from this local, fair-sized MC that you could automate email sequences based on how a customer interacts with you to ensure they get a follow-up from your business.
Basically, if you sign-up to WIN tickets on our website, we follow-up with you instantly, in 24hrs, three days after that, five days after that, seven days after that, 14, & 21 days – nearly two months without ever lifting a finger! It welcomes and introduces new customers to all that we offer at the farm. (You can try it at www.MazeFunPark.com, just “Enter to WIN” tickets)
MC 2: Facebook is now pay-to-play. You can do the very best job you like with organic posts, but Facebook is only going to show them to 10% OR LESS of your Facebook Page’s “Likes.” They convinced us that organic reach is going down, making Facebook Pay-To-Play. If you aren’t advertising, you aren’t maximizing your online presence.
MC 3: Sequential FB Ads Funneling (SFBAF for short.) Nerd time! Imagine you have someone look at a FB Ad with a video of your sunflower festival, but they don’t buy. What happens then? Nothing. With SFBAF, that person would next see a different, offer-based FB Ad, such as “Remember the sunflower festival you saw? Why not get tickets for $5OFF?” – The 2nd ad makes no sense to people who haven’t seen the first ad, but to the video viewers who we know DID see it, it’s a reminder to buy something they already were interested in. Nerdy – YES. Effective – Also, YES. Doable? Surprisingly, YES.
So YES, you might want to hire a marketing company if you can treat it as a learning adventure AND the MC has something you want to learn anyway. I always figure that what I spent learning, I can pass on and share with clients. My budget counts for more than just my home farm.
If you can’t justify using your budget for the greater good, keep reading into the next post to see why you certainly SHOULD NOT hire a marketing company.