Small And Midsized Company Marketing And Marketing Communications – A Lesson From Large Agencies

Over the past few years, rapidly developing technologies have changed the way marketers think about marketing and marketing communications strategies, plans and tactics. However, somewhat quietly but perhaps more importantly, a significant change has occurred with the world’s largest communications agencies – the dramatic growth of consulting companies at the expense of traditional advertising agencies.

Management and accounting consulting companies with new services are now ranking sixth through tenth among the world’s biggest communications companies. The specialized divisions of Accenture Interactive, PwC Digital Services, Deloitte Digital, Cognizant Interactive and IBMix had total global revenue of over $20 billion in 2017, with an eye-popping 32 percent growth in US revenue versus a year ago.

While traditional advertising industry giants WPP, Omnicom, Publicis, Interpublic and Dentsu are ranked as the top five, with global revenue of nearly $62 billion, US revenue barely increased at 0.3 percent (Advertising Age).

Why is this change happening and what can small and midsized marketers learn from it?

Consulting Companies Focus On ROI

There are many reasons for the growth of consulting companies – in B2B, B2C and nonprofit marketing and marketing communications areas – but the top reasons are:

  1. Consulting companies already have deep ties, experience and credibility helping organizations improve their profitability, because of a sharp focus on ROI;
  2. Their existing familiarity with digital technologies, along with the financial resources to acquire specialized digital companies for expansion;
  3. Maintaining a data-based strategy with clients and prospects – not creative alone – which means they are focused on understanding customer wants and needs, as well as customer experiences at all pre- and post- customer purchase points;
  4. A focus on marketing and marketing communications effectiveness and not just efficiency, resulting in a very big difference to a brand’s profitability.

In short, a history and vision of focusing on and improving a brand’s profitability and its ROI. Keeping an eye on the bottom line – cost per customer, not just media cpm efficiency.

ROI Focused Marketing And Marketing Communications Consultants

As a small of midsized marketer, what can be learned from this dramatic shift of larger marketers? With only a small (sometimes inexperienced) staff, limited financial resources and time constraints, what should be considered?

Start with established marketing and marketing communications consultants who are clearly focused on a brand’s profitability and ROI, and not just “likes” or “clicks”. They should have significant experience across industries and brands, both for profit and nonprofit, and have a broad understanding of customer, prospect (and employee) motivations to purchase and repurchase, regardless of the business environment.

But, above all, they must be media neutral and not selling “one size fits all” solutions. As Tom Bradley, former head of marketing at Nestle said, “The best source of marketing communications leverage is the quality of the message… not the media vehicle, new or traditional, that does or does not deliver.” And that also means you must be sure that your consultants have the ability to cultivate and manage the creative process.

Selecting A Consultant

Unsure of how to select a consultant, much less what type of professional to look for? If your business is floundering and in serious need of overall repair, along with financing, you probably would be better served by either a management or accounting consultant.

If, however, your primary need is to establish or improve a weak marketing or marketing communications program for the short and long term your selection should be apparent. You should be looking for rigorous and objective counsel on the entire scope of traditional marketing and marketing communications opportunities available to you (traditional vs. new media; conventional vs. digital; etc.).

Beyond the qualities of the consultants previously mentioned, be sure to look for:

  1. Someone who is disciplined, apolitical, down to earth, and willing to be part of your team; consultants who will promote candor across all levels, who will listen and explain what needs to be done to everyone’s satisfaction; teaching, not lecturing, is very important’;
  2. Professionals with the ability to develop successful strategies, plans and executions with your team or, if necessary, who can provide outside specialists to improve part or all of the program;
  3. People who have strong convictions to use research and measure not only what has been done but also what is proposed to be done; measurement is key to evaluating success or the need to modify a plan;
  4. A flexible organization that can bring in marketing and marketing communications specialists when and as needed so that overhead isn’t an on-going expense.

Most small and midsized companies find themselves with not enough time, skill or financial resources to develop and execute a profitable marketing and marketing communications program. These challenges are growing exponentially, and consultants can be of great value in navigating this complex environment and adding value to your brand.

Hopefully, these ideas will give you food for thought, but as Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Hiring a Marketing Expert Vs Doing It Yourself

Marketing is a complex field that includes different strategies designed to improve visibility, establish a brand presence, engage prospective customers, and earn more revenue as a result. Business owners need to invest time and money into marketing if they want to stay ahead of the game and stand apart from the competition. A good marketing strategy can help businesses grow and enjoy more success.

However, many small business owners hesitate to hire professional marketers to handle their marketing campaign. It could be lack of trust, no budgetary means for it, or that they feel it’s a manageable task. In the end, they struggle to share responsibilities and delegate tasks while they run a business; which means they don’t outsource marketing and rely on inexperienced in-house employees to plan and implement the strategies that they end up overseeing.

Why Hiring a Marketing Expert can Help

Modern marketing is an expansive field, and it includes everything from digital marketing online to traditional offline marketing. Business owners rarely have enough time to learn different marketing techniques and understand how to implement them well on their platforms. All kinds of businesses, especially small companies, can benefit from professional assistance. Here are some reasons why hiring a professional is a good idea:

1. To Navigate the Complexities of Modern Marketing Strategies

Modern marketing strategies involve a wide range of techniques, tools, skills, and platforms, which is why people work in teams to implement it. The digital marketing team includes professionals with different skills and qualifications who handle different tasks. These strategies are just too complex for a single person to manage, even if they’re qualified in the field. Even the simplest marketing strategy requires steps like:

  • Establishing Your Audience
  • Branding the Service for the Audience
  • Graphic Design & Collateral Creation
  • Creating a Website that Sells
  • Making the Website SEO Friendly
  • Promoting the Website
  • Creating Social Media Profiles
  • Establishing Brand Presence
  • Generating Content
  • Creating Ads for Paid Platforms
  • Managing Ad Spend
  • Managing Authoritative Links to the Website

All of these things require different skills and most business owners have to invest time to learn these skills if they want to handle marketing without professional assistance.

2. To Create Content that Establishes Industry Authority

Content is an important aspect of modern marketing strategies because it helps establish authority in the industry, engages with customers, distributes information regarding products and services, and include keywords to catch the attention of search engines. The Internet is saturated with content, so users are very selective about what they read. It’s not enough to just create generic content and include relevant keywords in the text. The content should provide the target audience with significant value.

  • Content should be well-written with sound grammar and spelling.
  • All the information should be current and relevant to the keywords included in the text.
  • The content should be in long-form and range from 1,000 to 2,000 words. The average word count of the web pages search on the first search engine results page is 1,890.
  • The keywords used should be specific, and the content should include long-tail phrases.
  • All information should be well-researched and as accurate as possible.

The primary purpose of content marketing is to attract organic traffic to the website and to ensure that users stay long enough to become interested in the products and services offered. The secondary purpose of content marketing is to establish authority and win the trust of the visitors.

Skilled and experienced content marketing experts know just how to generate the right kind of content for their target audience. This job requires skills, training and deep knowledge on the nitty-gritty of writing for online audiences. It’s something most individual business owners aren’t able to manage.

3. To Develop Creative and Interactive Resources

Content marketing doesn’t just involve text though it is one of the most commonly used formats in modern marketing. Text content is easy to create, and business owners can develop good articles and blog posts if they put in some time and effort. However, experienced marketers know content marketing must be diverse and approach the target audience from different directions. A sound content marketing strategy will include:

  • Videos and tutorials
  • Podcasts and live streams
  • Infographics and animations
  • White papers and research papers relevant to the industry

These types of content require different skills and software, and a business owner doesn’t usually have access to them. In comparison, professional marketers have all the tools and knowledge required to create visual and text content and can handle it with a marketing strategy in mind.

4. To Deliver your Brand Socially

Social media is a great platform for small businesses because it allows them to reach out and connect with their target audience. They can engage with their audience regularly, establish a personal relationship, hear customer concerns, complaints, and provide resolutions promptly; this helps ensure customers remain interested in the brand.

However, social media is a double-edged sword if it’s not handled properly. Even the smallest mistakes can compromise the reputation of the company and alienate the target audience. Experienced social media professionals know how to navigate these platforms well and will:

  • Understand different platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., and develop unique strategies to engage audiences on every platform.
  • Explore the paid ads, promoted content, and other such paid marketing options available on these platforms and use them to the best advantage.
  • Monitor engagements and interactions between the business and target audience to understand customer preferences.
  • Handle complaints, questions, and requests from customers on the social media platforms.
  • Build and maintain a good reputation on these platforms and establish authority through content.

Professional marketers will use sophisticated social media management tools to keep track of all this activity and ensure nothing goes wrong. Managing social media requires time and commitment, but it can be very rewarding. Social media marketers are very savvy on these platforms and know how to engage the audience efficiently.

Many small business owners struggle with this aspect of marketing and have neither the time nor knowledge to keep track of their social media accounts. The time to update, post content, respond, and then interact with their audiences just isn’t there.

5. To Develop your Brand and Website Concepts

A marketing campaign will fail if the business doesn’t have a well-designed website and a carefully crafted brand presence. A website is the foundation of all marketing campaigns and needs to provide a good user experience to visitors, regardless of the platform they approach it from.

The website should be easy to navigate, mobile-friendly, SEO-friendly, quick to load on all platforms, aesthetically pleasing, and informative. It should be designed in accordance with the branding to ensure it conveys the right message to the target audience. Experienced website developers and marketers will consider the factors mentioned below when they create a platform and branding:

  • Target audiences and their preferences
  • Type of products and services provided
  • Competitors and the industry in general
  • The company’s ethics, goals, and message
  • The location of the company

All of these factors are considered in the website design and branding process to ensure the online presence is unique and appealing to the target audience. While business owners know their industry, product and target market well, they don’t have the skills and knowledge on how to position themselves best when it comes to branding. A haphazard approach or unplanned branding strategy can have a long-term impact on the success of the venture.

6. To Research and Analyze Your Engagement Campaigns

Modern marketing strategies are fluid and dynamic. They need to change and evolve in response to the changing market conditions, search engine regulations, target audience preferences, and other such influential factors.

A marketing campaign that’s successful today might not be as successful six months down the line, which is why experienced marketers always keep an eye on the campaigns through analytics and research latest marketing trends regularly. Here are some of the many analytic reports professional marketers browse through regularly:

  • The analytic reports containing website activity like a number of visitors (repeat and unique), duration of the visit, bounce rates, most popular pages, etc. This information will help them improve the overall quality of the website.
  • Analysis of paid ad campaign performance on search engines, social media platforms, and even off-line strategies like direct mail marketing. They keep an eye on the performance of the paid ad campaigns and determine if the ads provide sufficient ROI.
  • Analysis of organic social media interaction. This often includes impressions, opened posts, comments, likes/dislikes, shares, etc. Experienced social media marketers will study these reports and alter their social media strategy accordingly.

Without regular analytics, it’s difficult to determine if the campaigns are performing well and delivering the right amount of ROI. The information from marketing analytics can also help with content creation, marketing campaign planning, social media campaigns, etc. A business owner will find it extremely difficult to handle all the aspects of analytics, which can lead to the failure of the marketing campaign.

7. To Save You Time and Money

Small business owners have many responsibilities and not a lot of time to attend to them all. Marketing can be an additional burden they don’t need, which is why DIY marketing is never a good idea. While DIY marketing seems affordable, it can have a long-term negative impact on the business, cause the business owner a considerable amount of stress, and draw their attention from tasks that can’t be outsourced and need their attention.

While there are multiple avenues and sources providing information about digital marketing strategies, nothing can replace the training, skill, and experience professional marketers have. They also have connections with different entities in the marketing world that can make developing effective strategies easier. Professional marketers will achieve more with less money so even if the initial investment of hiring a professional marketer seems a bit expensive, it can help business owners save money in the long run. Marketing research can prove it.

How Can Digital Marketing Work for Your Business?

There is no question that we live in the digital world and from this perspective; it is significant that your business has magnificent presence in the digital space. Internet marketing or digital marketing is the marketing future across the world with full of advantages as compared to traditional marketing. Here are the few reasons why digital marketing is important for every business:

  1. Provides equal opportunity to all kinds of businesses.
  2. More cost effective as compared to traditional Marketing.
  3. Delivers more conversions.
  4. Helps in generating more Revenues.
  5. Facilitates interaction with targeted audience.
  6. Also caters to mobile customers.
  7. It helps in earning people trusts

All these reasons show that digital marketing or digital modes of communication are quicker, result driven and more adaptable. To optimize your business and drive conversions, it is essential to know about all the digital marketing elements, which are as follows:

SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
In the layman’s terms, SEO is a marketing discipline, which focuses on organic (non-paid) visibility on search engines. SEO is not only related to making your website or online presence better for search engines but also about making it better for people. To provide relevant results to its audience, Google regularly updates its algorithms. Because of this regular updates by Google, many experts say that their effort is futile but their results or SEO is dead. However the truth is that Google tries to filter the websites that don’t deserve to be on the top of search Engine Result Pages (SERP’s).

SEO is one of the most cost-effective strategies that will bring organic traffic to your website. So, there is no doubt in investing in SEO work.

SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
It is the most effective and comprehensive strategy to grow your business and drive more traffic to your website in an increasingly competitive market. With lots of business presence on digital platform and all of them keeping their eyes on the same, it is significant to advertise online, and SEM is one of the best ways to promote or advertise your business. It is done primarily through paid effort, which is why it is also called as Paid Search Marketing.

The SEM domain is diverse and complicated, so on the basis of the structure of your business, you may choose PPC (Pay per Click) or CPM (Cost Per-Thousand Impressions) or CPC (Cost per Click). Google Adwords (Google) and Bing ads (Yahoo) are the most popular platforms for SEM.

Content Creation
Content creation is an effective marketing method and even after the changes in Google’s algorithms like Penguin, Panda or Humming bird update, content is still the most significant metric while measuring the search results. Content can be presented in many ways, such as blogs, e-books, case studies, how to guides, question & answer articles, banners, infographics, images, news updates, videos or content for social media sites.

You can create content on any topic related to your business (if you are creative), and then skillfully link it to your business indirectly. The content should be professional and search engine optimized. It is always better to leave certain things in hands of professionals to achieve success in your business. There are many Content Writing as well as Content Marketing agencies which not only write the content in the professional way but also promote it on digital media to create brand awareness and bring traffic, which in turn convert to your customers.

SMM (Social Media Marketing)
Social Media Marketing uses social networking sites (like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest etc.) as a tool of promoting websites and bringing traffic towards your business.

The basic goal of SMM is to engage or communicate with the users, increase brand visibility and reach more customers. Having an active Social Media Presence (engage on daily basis) has become an invaluable part to expand your reach, which as a result will build your own reputation and brand.

Mobile Marketing
The consistent use of smartphones in daily life has brought this technique of marketing. This technique would definitely give more exposure to your business as mobile has become an integral part of our life. Mobile marketing can be done in various ways. Some of them are as:

  • App-Based marketing
  • In-Game Mobile Marketing
  • SMS
  • Mobile Search Ads
  • Mobile Image ads

Email Marketing
Emailing is one of the easiest and inexpensive ways to advertise your business and products or services as compared to all other digital marketing strategies. Below are some of the reasons how email marketing can help in growth of your business:

  • Email has wider reach
  • Email delivers your communication
  • Email drives conversions
  • Email results in higher ROI(Return on Investment)
  • It is an open platform and will remain there forever

All the above reasons, shows that email marketing is the most effective marketing channel that can help you to connect with audience and drive sales and revenue for your business.

Conclusion
As a marketer, you have many channels and strategies to promote your business online and reach your audience. It is important to choose different marketing strategies for your business to succeed online. However, the truth is the combination of different strategies can only serve your objectives better. A digital marketing agency offers all online solutions that can help you in achieving a high ROI. These agencies consult, strategize and execute to deliver the best. So, it is highly recommended to opt for professional digital marketing services to achieve online business success.