I’ve spent the last 20+ years counseling hundreds of startups and small businesses on how to market their business on a very minimal – if existent at all – marketing budget. Too often, I see founders or small business owners wasting valuable time and resources either cobbling together marketing experts, paying ridiculous retainers for a big agency, or trying a DIY approach.
Marketing may seem easy but there is a science to connecting all the dots and choosing the best programs for your company at its current lifecycle. Can you create your own website? Should you take the time to send an email newsletter? Is email outdated and you should focus on digital content or social media instead? How do you drive traffic to your website – and how do you find the right audiences to engage with? And what’s with all this Google Analytics stuff? It can be a lot to take on and keep up with.
There are a few options that can align with your startup budget. You can find an individual marketing expert on sites such as Guru.com (or here, like me!) or multiple experts with different talents at 99Designs. The challenge here is that you may have to spend more time reviewing resumes and proposals, as well as managing multiple people in various locations and at different levels of expertise.
If your needs are bigger – say, you need everything from a new website to SEO to ongoing marketing management – a third option is to hire a full virtual marketing team to kick off your marketing. Midsize companies, for example Nowspeed – a digital marketing agency here in Boston – can deliver end-to-end online marketing solutions, and require less hands-on management than freelancers at a reasonable cost. In addition, you’ll receive a full team to handle all elements of the most crucial marketing needs of any company:
- Website design and development – make a great first impression and receive a site that’s easily managed by your team in the long run
- SEO – drive, manage and audit the right traffic
- Social media services – cross promote your messages, website, webinars and news; engage with influencers and ensure that your social media strategy is created and executed by experts
One advantage to using an agency like Nowspeed – disclosure, I personally know Founder David Reske and he’s a great guy – is knowing that everything is integrated – providing a consistent and persistent brand image and messaging. That alone is worth the investment – even if in the long run you build an internal team. Using an external agency of senior and seasoned executives can be just the right investment to kick your marketing efforts off on the right foot – and serve as a great training ground for you to manage a future Marketing team.