How do you know if you’re ready to engage a marketing agency?
Marketing is a fantastic tool (of course, we *would* say this, but hear us out!). It can assist with all kinds of business promotion: branding, brand awareness, research, messaging, promotion, content creation, advertising campaigns and lead generation. Good marketers have a wealth of experience and expertise in their field, and they’re up to date with the latest news in an industry that’s known for being fast-moving (especially in today’s digital landscape).
However, advertising and promotion are no silver bullet, and they’re really most effective once your business has reached a certain stage. It’s a little like launching yourself into the sky as a hang-glider: the higher your jumping-off point, the higher you’re going to soar. It can be tempting to leap ahead to start seeing the marketing wheels churning — but there has to be a certain amount of groundwork laid beforehand (to mix a few metaphors!).
So, how do you know if you’re ready to engage the help of a marketing agency? Here are four key things to think about when determining if it’s the right time to invest in marketing.
Advertising and promotion are no silver bullet – they’re most effective once your business has reached a certain stage.
1. Know who you are
Before you can even think about marketing, it’s essential that you have an in-depth understanding of who you are as a business and your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). If you engage a marketing agency without a clear picture of what your business is all about, what you have to offer and where you’re situated in the broader market, you’ll most likely pour a large amount of time (and therefore money) into soul-searching instead of spending that time on targeted marketing activity. If you’re having trouble navigating this step, a business mentor may be able to help clarify things.
2. Have a business plan
We wrote a blog on this topic a little while back, but we can’t stress enough the important of a business plan. In short, this involves being totally across what your business is offering, as well as things like who your customers will be and how you’re actually going to make money. If you’ve got a plan, a marketing agency is going to be far better placed to assist you. You can attempt to write your own plan using the steps outlaid in a resource such as the Strategyzer’s Business Model Canvas (which we love and summarised in the aforementioned blog), or get someone like a business adviser onboard to help you with this.
3. Consider your budget
This is a big one. The inescapable truth is that decent marketing involves a reasonable financial investment. Sure, you have to spend money to make money, but you also need to have money to spend money. To justify the financial outlay of marketing, it’s important to first ask yourself some questions. What is your estimated monthly marketing budget or expected marketing expenditure? How does your business generate revenue? How will you fund the marketing? Is it self-funded or coming from a loan or investors? Can you afford to outlay funds if you don’t get a return on investment (ROI) straight away? Any marketing agency worth its salt will ask you some of these questions before accepting you as a client, as they should want to ensure any relationship you enter into is sustainable for you and not putting you under unnecessary financial stress. You can read more about developing a marketing budget here.
4. Getting the timing right
As we’ve said above, advertising and promotion works best when embarked upon once your business is established. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t engage in any marketing activity earlier — obviously it’s a great idea to have elements such as your branding and social media accounts up and running. It’s just that trying to launch a full-scale marketing plan (and paying the necessary costs attached) can be a misuse of resources. It’s a little like putting the cart before the horse (woah, Nelly!).
If you’ve laid the groundwork and feel that you’re ready to take things to the next level, great! Once your business model is proved, the next phase will be most likely be focused on brand awareness. In other words, your business is established and viable, but you need to let more people know about it. This is where a marketing agency comes in and can help boost your business. However, it’s important to know that you may not see an immediate ROI: building a brand can be a slow burn, and you must be prepared to play the long game.
Following brand awareness, however, is lead generation. This is where the fun begins — where you start seeing new prospective customers flowing in and convert to paying customers. This is a fantastic phase to reach, but there’s no shortcut: you have to build your way up to it.
The final word
We all want growth and expansion for our businesses, but the long and short of it is that you will get the most bang for your buck if you engage marketers at the right time in the life cycle of your business — a time when your business has a solid foundation and is ready for take-off.
If you think you’re at the right stage for a marketing strategy (or you’d like to chat further), drop us a line.