If any small business is to invest limited funds in an external marketing support it must generate a return on investment and deliver results in the shortest possible timeframe. This article compares the various options available.
Unfortunately there is no single solution which will work overnight (if only!). A marketing process based on that in use in large corporate land (by consultants or advisers with a large corporate background) is likely to be of little use. The best advisers are those who have been there and done that in small and micro business marketing.
So what are the options available? If we exclude the complete do it yourself marketing option then the options are:
- A marketing mentor or coach who visits the small business on a regular basis.
- A marketing mentor or coach who works remotely and is contactable via phone or Email.
- Outsourcing the entire process to a marketing agency.
- Plan everything in house and use various suppliers to deliver individual marketing services.
A marketing mentor or coach may guide the business on the do it yourself route or the small business may choose external marketing suppliers to deliver individual tools or services. The most expensive option is to hire a coach or mentor then to buy in individual services, followed by outsourcing everything. The remote coach or mentor will usually cheaper than the one visiting a business on a regular basis
What matters however is not so much the financial outlay (although important) but the returns generated. Using a coach or mentor may be expensive but it lowers risk as they provide expert advice on what will / will not work. However, as noted above, it is important to choose the mentor wisely.
Outsourcing the entire process to a marketing agency can work well but only if the agency is properly briefed before the project starts up and monitored. Failure to do so will almost certainly lead to money being wasted on ineffective marketing. The external marketing support available via a mentor will ensure a valid plan and brief is in place. The small business must decide if the extra costs involved provide value.
To plan everything in house then engage external suppliers may be the lowest cost route but it is also the highest risk. Many small businesses may be expert in their own field but are not expert in marketing. There are many unscrupulous marketing service suppliers who will take advantage of this lack of knowledge and fail to deliver. Even with reputable suppliers a failure to brief correctly will lead to poor results.
An experienced marketing adviser may be relatively expensive but costs should be weighed against the costs of wasting money on ineffective marketing. However, if expert support is to be utilised it is important to choose the adviser wisely making sure they have real experience at the small business level.
What are your experiences at the small business level? I would be interested to know which approach you have found best?
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