I talk to hundreds of business owners every year about their digital marketing and make recommendations on products and marketing strategies based on their business goals and target market. A common hesitation I hear from business owners is that they don't know who to trust. This is not through fault of their own, but because they have been burned before, usually more than once.
Like many industries, there are good digital marketing companies and there are bad ones. For someone like myself, this is greatly frustrating. Not only does it make my job harder - don't get me wrong, I am always up for a challenge, but it makes me mad. My passion is to see small businesses succeed through implementing smart, effective digital marketing. Effective, what does that mean? It means there is a return on your investment.
The motto we at RTOWN sell by is to under promise and over deliver (UPOD). The greatest blight on my industry is that too often sales people are over promising and under delivering (OPUD). This may be because they are working to a sales target, perhaps there are sales incentives for the individual or maybe they get swept off to a private island to enjoy daiquiris and endless canapés for a week if they hit yearly target. While this sounds awesome and I'd love to be sunning myself in the Maldives right now, the aim of these companies is to sell as much as possible, as quickly as possible and quite often at the expense of the businesses they're selling to.
RTOWN is a company that rewards and celebrates its staff when they get a positive customer testimonial and put weight on re-signing clients because it's a sign the product or service has worked. In other words, the emphasis is on the customer experience and ensuring there is value for the client.
This is when my focus turns to the business owner. A good website, a solid social media strategy or a large ad-word spend with Google are all fantastic things. But as the philosopher Aristotle once said - "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts". Or in relevance to today's topic, an all encompassing digital marketing strategy is better than pouring money into one or two digital avenues and expecting to suddenly be flooded with business.
"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts" - Aristotle
What can you do as a business owner to know you're working with the right digital marketing company? Here are a few pointers to help you out:
Do your due diligence
Research the company you are thinking about working with. Look at their other clients they currently work with or ask for examples and decide for yourself if you like their product. Also look at what their company stands for, their mission statement or values. (For the record ours is TRUST).
Ensure there is regular reporting
Without regular reporting, how are you to know if the product is working? The greatest thing about digital marketing is that the results are tangible and everything is measurable. Use this to your advantage and always ask for regular reports. Diligent digital marketing companies should offer this as part of the service in the initial meeting.
In house or outsourced
Check if the work is done in house or outsourced, and if outsourced, ask 'why'?
If a company outsources a product or service it is important to ask why. But don't be afraid if the answer is 'yes'. Quite often it's because the company has already vetted the technology advantage the third party is passing onto your business. Unfortunately some companies outsource as a cost-cutting measure and the only things that suffer are the product quality and the client.
Be mindful of budget but don't be cheap.
If you are seeking the cheapest option or the magical $100/month solution, I'm sorry to say but it doesn't exist. You may as well save your pennies and spend it on the first round at the bar instead. A successful digital marketing strategy is one with dollars behind it. To achieve results you need to factor marketing into your business plan from the start and although there is no single answer across all industries and business types, the general rule of thumb is:
Total Revenue x 5% = Marketing budget required to maintain current awareness and visibility.
Total Revenue x 10% = Marketing budget required to grow and gain market share.