Small business owners have plenty on their plates. And though marketing is an important part of the business picture that many owners can — and should — take part in, there are some areas of marketing that are better left to professionals. As Harvard Professor Gail McGovern points out, “The benefits of outsourcing your marketing include cost savings and improved quality, as you can hire experts that can do their job efficiently.” Wondering which marketing tasks to outsource? Here are the top five areas where outsourcing can help you most:
SEO and Internet Marketing
Internet marketing is vital in the digital age, but it requires some expertise to implement the techniques and tools that will get you the most ROI. Tools like Search Engine Optimization and Google Analytics are intimidating to most novices — for good reason. Considering that search engine algorithms and other web practices are constantly changing, this aspect of marketing is best left to experts immersed in the field. If your product or service relies on web presence, you definitely need extra help to gain footing.
Tip: The company you hire should be highly ranked in the any Internet search you perform (it’s their expertise, after all). Also make sure to ask about their practices. Though you want visibility and traffic to your site, there are some online practices that are frowned upon and can hurt your reputation.
Though you can create a Facebook page or Twitter account on your own, using social media to its full advantage takes a little more effort and time than most small business owners have. This specific segment of Internet marketing has great potential if used effectively, and social media marketers know all the tricks of the trade to get the best results from social media campaigns.
Tip: If you plan to outsource this marketing, make sure you ask the right questions to find the right person for the job. And carefully read online reviews of any candidate, particularly on social media sites such as LinkedIn.
PR is an area that small business owners can greatly benefit from when needed. Do you have a new product launch or have you recently attracted some bad attention? Hiring a PR firm to do some damage control or support a campaign can help enormously. Not only do PR experts have more established contacts (and therefore greater reach), they can hone in on exactly what type of support your particular business needs. “Outsourcing gives you access to experienced marketing professionals who can quickly develop plans and campaigns on the tightest of schedules,” says The PowerMark Group President Colleen Edwards. Though you may not need a PR team year-round, it is a valuable tool when necessary.
Tip: Look for a PR firm that specializes in your industry and avoids contracts. This is a sign they’re confident in their ability to service your needs, not your checkbook.
Many small business owners advertise the best they can with the budget they have. But if you’ve found that your current placements aren’t garnering enough sales, consider passing the task on. With knowledge and experience, an ad expert will help you put your resources in the right place to generate the best ROI. They can also help protect your reputation. As Staff Editor CT Moore of Revenews.com points out, a professional will know the best practices for your industry. “For example, the laws might let you make all kinds of claims in your TV ads, but that doesn’t mean that your customers will accept you making those claims.”
Tip: When hiring an ad agency, look for agencies that have crafted effective, long-term campaigns, not just clever one-offs.
If your sales are stagnant and your in-house resources are tapped out, outsourcing your sales lead generation can take the weight off your shoulders. In fact, it may be the better option altogether. According to Marketing Sherpa, outsourced lead generation gives you 43 percent better results than in-house. A professional in this field will help you target potential clients and deliver not just quantity of leads, but quality—and that’s what will give you a competitive edge while saving time.
Tip: There are many lead generation services, so hire one that specializes in your industry or niche. Identify the qualities you want in a lead generation representative, and base your search on that.
How to Find an Expert
If you’ve decided to outsource a task and are ready to find an expert, start by asking friends and professional colleagues for recommendations and searching online. Any talented marketing experts will successfully market themselves, so pay attention to search rankings, web visibility, and customer testimonials and reviews. Look for experts who deal with your particular industry (you can find these by contacting trade associations). Identify the qualities and type of experience you’re looking for, and interview potential candidates who match your criteria. When interviewing, make sure you’re clear about your own goals and expectations, and ask specifically how their services and practices can help you achieve them. Websites such as oDesk, BidModo and eLance, and the Outsourcing Institute can help connect you with industry professionals.
In this day in age, outsourcing is a reasonable and often advantageous tool that should be utilized by small business owners whenever and wherever necessary.
Do you outsource any of your small business marketing? Tell us what kind in the comments.