entrepreneurship, online marketing

Outsourcing: Finding and Working with Outside Help

updated from 1/17/18 – Part one of two

With so many parts to your marketing system, and all the new tools available to you it’s easier for solopreneurs and marketing teams to do a lot more on-their-own.  On the other hand, it’s not necessary to personally learn all the technical skills needed to build a Website, landing pages, email system, creative ads and videos, or the rest. Just as you might hire an accountant to help you with your taxes, you also hire experts and firms to help you build your online business. There are many development firms, designers, copywriters, ad managers, marketing experts, virtual assistants, and consultants to help you put together the right team. You may want to hire an online marketing expert or an ad agency to help you with your marketing plan and advertising. Outsourcing for these functions is very common, and also recommended, so you can focus more on what you do best. And just because you can, does not mean you should if you want more profits for your business so outsourcing makes good sense.

After you have worked your online marketing up to the level of your ability, then it is time to get the right expertise (or sooner if you can afford to). A study by People Design Technology found that clients are unhappy with their agencies because of poor management, poor technical knowledge, or poor quality of work, but only 17% of the respondents selected their agency through a formal selection process. Judge your expert by reputation and referrals, capabilities and match of technical expertise.

Web Developer or Design Firm

A web development firm will work with you to create your Website, they can host your site or help you find a hosting company, and help you maintain the site for the changes you will want over time. They can also assist you if you want to add ecommerce to your site, by building a shopping cart and ordering system for you. They can help you integrate the Web data into your other systems. When you need to have a site created, or need to re-design your existing site you would call a web developer.

What do you look for in a Web development company?
* review their Websites – do you like their style?

* Do they have experience that maps closely to your project’s technical, marketing, and/or strategy needs?
* how responsive are they to your initial inquiries?
* how business and marketing savvy do they seem?
* do their resources meet your needs? (often small shops take on too many projects, and large shops can ignore smaller clients)
* set development guidelines based on what you can do now with your existing resources

* get references

Marketing Firm

A marketing firm can assist you in the strategy and consulting for the best ways to promote your Website and sell online. From deciding on advertising models, to search engine placement to finding strategic partners, a marketing consultant can help identify the best marketing activities along with the best tools and platforms to use. To find the professional that best matches your needs:

* ask about their services
* ask how they charge
* what is their area of specialty
* ask for examples of their successes – case studies
* how many years are they in business?
* how does Launch marketing vary from ongoing services?

Interactive Agency or Advertising Agency

An agency will manage your promotional campaigns and help you find the appropriate ways to advertise your Website, and allocate your budgets.

* managing client expectations
* resource allocation issues

* monthly ad buying budget expectations
* making an actionable plan for your vision
* managing the client-agency relationship

Interviewing Vendors 

In order to find the best expert or firm that is right for you, you must prepare a list of questions that you will asking all the prospective vendors so that you can compare everyone fairly. This process also gets your company to think through the major issues, and set up the plans and goals for the project.

Questions might include issues around:

  • hours and availability
  • core areas of specialty
  • how fees are charged, especially if project scope changes
  • how tasks, tools or resources are applied
  • which tools are used most often
  • examples of similar projects
  • favorite projects to work on

Christine Harmel, owner/President of The Interactive Resource, a firm that matches Client’s projects to the most suitable web developers, states that “in working with web developers, we have found that the most important things to look for are personality match, and a vision match for your company strategy.”

What’s expected of you as the Client?

From the point of view of the various vendors, there are specific things you can do as a client that can facilitate the process and help them to help you meet your goals more efficiently. You should dedicate time to:

  • * prepare, and gain background knowledge
    * research your options and your competitive situation
    * set clear goals and milestones
    * create the ability to supply information and materials quickly

The Final Analysis

When selecting vendors, judge them by reputation, experience, referrals, capabilities and technical expertise.  Find out how many years they have been in business, and how the company has managed change and growth.  When determining budgets, look at the bids you receive in relation to each other, and read the fine print to make sure you are not comparing apples to oranges.   

Which company has thought out the project most thoroughly?  Which one seems to understand your needs most clearly?  Which team seems most cohesive and genuinely enthusiastic about doing the work and helping your business to succeed online?  The firm that can answer these questions and the ones above to your satisfaction is the one that will bring you the most success online.

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Part 2 – The 3 Types of Marketing Experts

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