Your Marketing Company Relationship: What Should Reasonable Expectations Be, How Much Should I Be Involved?

The typical progression with marketing and the life of a small business owner takes a few twists and turns. Typically, a North American based small business owner will start their business without the appropriate level of business acumen to effectively start and run a business. Forbes Magazine and Bloomberg reported that 8 out of 10 small business owners will fail in business within 18 months. (Published September 2013)

Due to this lack of knowledge, many small business owners in order to save costs (in their minds) will attempt to conduct and manage the marketing themselves. In most instances, this action quite honestly has lasting negative sales impact, profitability impact, customer service impact, and overall business branding impact. In some cases, that negative impact is difficult to realize (at least in the beginning) short term. Once you have realized that the marketing side of the business is taking significant amount of time away from you actually doing what you love(the very thing you decided to do when you opened your business), you realize that you need to hire some type of marketing support.

The next step in business owner life progression brings many of you to a crossroads. Should I hire an in house marketing person( I have read the Craigslist Ads that you have written looking for a marketing coordinator, customer service representative, sales person, personal assistant, and support person *all in one* for the bargain price of $10.00 per hour  ), or should I entertain those “spam” emails and phone calls I receive about marketing?

Once you have realized at this point in your business life progression either: Hire the $1600.00 minimum, per month cost to employ a $10.00 per hour Jack or Jane of all trades to manage Marketing, or hire one of the agencies that have been emailing you (multiple times per day) and calling you regularly. No matter which direction you have chosen, what you should establish are reasonable expectations with respects to how you manage those relationships and how much you should be involved.

Keep in mind that a marketing staffer “might be” but the marketing agency “will be” the subject matter experts in marketing and advertising. You as the business owner are the subject matter expert around your business model or widget(s) that you create and sell. If you truly wish to realize sales and profitability success with the marketing you are paying for, you must be involved in the process. It is critical that you help your employee or agency create content, images, videos, sound bites, and specials or promotions. You must provide feedback and approvals. If you are paying an employee or paying for a service why would you not show direct involvement in something you are paying for? How much time do you need to be involved? That is a great question. The answer is really contingent upon how “bad” your marketing, sales, and profitability performance historically has been. If your sales are down or flat, if your profitability is down or flat, or if your marketing program is dismal-you should plan to invest the time necessary to ensure that your employee or agency is steered in the right direction in support of success for your business. If you hire an employee or an agency and then drop off your mess in their laps, your ultimate success could be improved but most likely would only show limited improvement.

You must be collaborative: If you approach your employee or agency with a jaded eye and an “ah ha I gotcha” mentality, your employee and agency are not going to be able to function in a creative, forward looking, and proactive manner in support of your marketing success. If you spend all of your interaction time looking for items that the employee didn’t complete or the agency didn’t complete instead of looking for creative ways to execute each segment of your campaigns, you are wasting valuable time and resources. It is human nature for “people” to work hard in support of doing a great job. Work to solve the root cause of problems and then focus on moving forward. If your employee or agency missed the mark with marketing did you fail to send in content? Did you fail to create content? Did you fail to direct them with specials, promotions, giveaways? Did you take weeks to provide feedback or an approval on a priority they were waiting for? Did you NOT take the work they sent you over for approval seriously? Did you not even review it? At the end of the day, as a business owner, the only person you are accountable to is the person you see in the mirror. Be sure to be purposeful, honest, and involved with what you are paying for in business. The CEO’s of major U.S. Fortune 50 organizations do not run their day to day operations on vacation 365 days per year, why do you think that you do not have to be: Supportive, hands on, helpful, proactive, and respectful with vendor and employee relationships, while still expecting great success?