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I want potential buyers to notice my business. How can outsourced marketing help?

If you run a medium-sized business, which you’re aiming to have acquired, outsourced marketing can make this a much more attractive proposition.

Raise your profile

Been so busy focusing on the day to day running of your business that you haven’t had time to work on building your profile, publicising your achievements and increasing brand awareness? A good outsourced marketing agency will know exactly how to help you get your profile on the right track.

Polish up your website

It’s amazing how many outstanding companies have underwhelming websites. Your website is your company’s first chance to make an impression so it has to be perfect.

Outsourcing web development

An outsourced marketing consultant can review your current website and make recommendations about what can be improved. They can spot any gaps, identify areas that need work and suggest and supply any additional content that is required.

You may need to go back to the drawing board and re-think it completely or it might just need a few tweaks here and there to bring it up to date. An outsourced marketing company can even engage web developers and designers to make the changes required. This is one area where a small investment can make a big difference.

Nail those case studies

Case studies are key to explaining how your company works and highlighting the positive results you have achieved for your clients. An outsourced marketing agency can work with you to build strong case studies that showcase your work, which can be used on your website or on social media.

Increase your chances of winning awards

Winning awards is a sure fire way to raise your company’s profile. You may deserve an award, but do you know how to write a winning award entry? By outsourcing award entries to someone who understands the judging criteria and is well used to submitting award entries, you can increase your chances of winning.

Make good news travel even faster

You may be winning clients, new business and awards left, right and centre but what’s the use if nobody knows about it? An outsourced marketing agency will advise you on how and where to share good news stories about your business, like new clients, business wins, awards or product launches.

Win at social media

A content marketing consultant can advise you on the right social media channels for your brand, help you build a social media profile, identify the correct tone of voice for your company, supply relevant and engaging content, guide you on what to post when and can even manage the whole thing end to end for you.

Blog better

There’s no better way to get the attention of a prospective buyer than by establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry. Blogging is a great way to raise your company’s profile, build brand awareness and keep you top of mind both within the industry and with potential buyers.

Content marketing is a specialised area that requires experience and an understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Your content has to be relevant, topical and highly engaging. Your internal employees may be experts at what they do but they might not have the time or the skills to write compelling blog articles. Outsourcing content marketing ensures professionally written blog articles that will highlight your position as experts in your field.

Create compelling content

Content is not limited to blog articles or social media posts; a good video can work wonders. Video content is especially effective for product demonstrations and testimonials. It increases your ranking in searches and is much more likely to be viewed and shared. If you don’t have the resources to make a video yourself, you can easily outsource video content. An outsourced marketing consultant will have the scriptwriter and videographer contacts you need.

Engage with events

Events are another opportunity for your business to shine, yet all too often companies don’t have the time and energy to devote to them, so they become a last-minute panic. A well-organised and memorable event can really raise your company’s profile and get people talking about you. From inspirational staff training days and creative customer days to exciting product launches, outsourcing event management will ensure that your next event is on point.

When you really need to put your best foot forward, outsourcing some of your key marketing tasks to someone who is totally focused on making you and your business look good will make all the difference.

If you’re a small to medium-sized business keen to expand, outsourced marketing could be just the solution you’ve been looking for. It’s a clever way to access a “virtual marketing department” without having to pay full-time salaries, which will enable you to compete with bigger companies for a fraction of the cost.

Once you’ve experienced the benefits of outsourcing your marketing and got used this way of working, you may find yourself outsourcing marketing tasks you didn’t even know you could such as…

1. Client Interviews / Customer Research

Finding out what your customers think of you and how happy they are with the service you’re providing is key for any business but you may not be comfortable asking them directly and they may not feel comfortable being completely honest with you. That’s where an outsourced marketing agency comes in. By outsourcing client interviews to a third party you get more honest feedback, which you can use to improve customer satisfaction levels.

2. Internal Communications

Likewise, it can be difficult to raise the issue of problems with ways of working within a business. Coming directly from management, criticism can be taken personally and can lead to resentment. Engaging an external marketing consultant to review your company’s ways of working and recommend strategies for improvement means that the suggestions are coming from an independent and impartial third party, which can make them easier for staff to take on board and implement.

3. Social Media Strategy

Knowing who your target audience is and building a relationship with them is key to any business. Once you’ve identified them you need to find the best place to communicate with them but should you be looking for “likes” or sending out witty “tweets” and do you really have the time to answer every single customer query promptly on every single channel?

By outsourcing social media marketing you get a much more professional approach. A social media agency will find out which social media channels your target audience is using and prioritise these. They will adopt a tone of voice for your brand and ensure it is consistent. They can find out when your audience is most active and optimise post times to catch them. They can tailor your content to different platforms. They can respond instantly to your customers when you don’t have time. Most importantly, they can track posts and measure which ones work best.

4. Copywriting

Copywriting is something that is often overlooked by businesses. After all, we can all write, can’t we? When you’re so close to your business you often use shorthand, jargon or buzzwords internally when speaking about your product or service. While this may make perfect sense to you, it may not necessarily be as clear to your customers. A good copywriter will quickly spot and cut through the jargon and rephrase it so that your customers clearly understand what you’re offering and why they need it.

Tone of voice is also crucial to how you communicate with your customers. Outsourcing copywriting means that you can ensure that this is relevant and consistent across all communications.

5. Email Marketing

Email marketing can be a very powerful tool for engaging with your customers but again, there’s a lot more to it than simply writing an email, sending it out and hoping for the best. To make sure your email isn’t ignored or marked as spam you need to understand the science behind it or enlist someone who does.

Outsourcing email marketing means that you can target your audience carefully and plan your communications to ensure the best results. Well written subject lines are key to getting someone to open the email, carefully targeted content ensures that you’re offering them something they need and a clever call to action will help you seal the deal. Testing the emails you send out will soon show what approach works best and help you improve your email communications in the future.

6. Content Strategy and Creation

These days content is king and creating compelling content is key to keeping your business relevant. Positioning yourself as an authority in your field and the “go-to source” of information is a sure way of keeping your business top of mind with your customers. Outsourcing content marketing is a great way to do this.

7. Blogging

Outsourcing blogging on your own website or on social media means that you can regularly communicate with your customers, sharing company news, addressing topical issues and taking advantage of seasonal events. Your own staff may vary in their skills in this area so outsourcing blogging means that they can contribute to a greater or lesser extent, while the marketing outsourcing company ensures that each blog article has a consistent tone of voice.

8. Award Entries

Winning awards increases brand awareness and boosts the profile of your business and is great for staff morale and client confidence but did you know that there is a knack to writing winning award entries?

While it makes sense for the person closest to the work to have an input into the entry, they may not be skilled at writing an entry and they may not necessarily have the time to devote to it. A good outsourced marketing agency will be well used to submitting award entries and will know exactly what information to include and how to phrase it in the best possible way.

9. Product Launches

Launching a new product is an exciting time for your business and to ensure success it is important that it is handled properly but it can take extra time that your internal team just doesn’t have. At times like these having extra hands on deck can make all the difference. Outsourcing product launches to an external marketing agency means you can give the new product the attention it deserves and get it out there faster without having to recruit or train extra staff.

10. Event Management

Planning an event is another task that can seriously eat into your time and become a bit of a headache if it’s not something you’re used to doing. Outsourcing event management means that you can be assured of a well planned and professional event.

While it can be a little daunting at first to hand over marketing tasks like these to an outsourced marketing agency, it will be well worth it in the long run. Once you see how much time and money you save and how much more time you have to focus on your core business you may well find yourself wondering why you didn’t do it sooner.

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What is outsourced marketing?

In a nutshell outsourced marketing enables you to put a “virtual marketing department” in place, without having to pay full-time salaries. This means that you can access the same resources of bigger companies for a fraction of the cost. To find out if outsourced marketing could be the right solution for your business, ask yourself the following questions:

Are you a small to medium sized enterprise?

If you need a big impact marketing campaign but don’t have a big budget, outsourced marketing could be perfect for you.

Is your business growing as fast as you’d like?

Business is growing but you want to grow it further and you also need to make sure that you stand out from the competition. If you feel like you’re always playing catch-up, now might be the time to think about outsourcing your marketing.

Do you find it hard to find time to think about marketing?

If it’s time to expand your business but all of your time is taken up with the primary work your business does, outsourcing your marketing could be a smart move. While you’re an expert at what you do, you may not be quite as familiar with the latest marketing trends and techniques. Delegating your marketing to the experts ensures the best results for your business, while freeing you up to focus on what you do best.

Can you afford an in-house marketing team right now?

Outsourcing your company’s marketing is much cheaper than doing it in-house. You don’t need to recruit, interview or train a new staff member – you can access an experienced team with a proven track record who can hit the ground running.

Outsourcing your marketing means you don’t have to pay for office space, software or equipment costs. You don’t have to worry about covering monthly salaries – you only pay for what you need and you have the flexibility to scale it up or down as the need arises.

Do you feel a bit overwhelmed when trying to choose the right approach?

The experience that outsourced marketing professionals bring to the table means that they can work out what you need quickly and they will also know how to make it happen. With a broad client base, they may already have worked with a client in a similar area and can share the benefit of their experience. Most importantly, they know what works and what doesn’t.

Could you benefit from some expert advice?

Never underestimate the power of a fresh perspective. You may be too close to the business to spot a new audience or marketing angle. While an internal marketing team may get stuck in a certain way of doing things, someone external will not be afraid to challenge the status quo. They may ask questions you never thought to ask, spot an opportunity you’ve missed or make suggestions that wouldn’t necessarily have occurred to you.

Do you have marketing tasks you’d be happy to delegate?

The best way to reach customers varies from company to company and outsourced marketing covers a wide range of tasks. You might be surprised by just how much you can outsource. Whether you need a marketing campaign to let customers know about your products or services, want help building your social media presence, need to measure customer satisfaction, want to raise your profile by winning industry awards or want to engage customers and showcase your expertise by creating content for a blog, outsourced marketing can help with all this and more.

Do you need results?

Most outsourced marketing teams will want to show you that hiring them was worthwhile so they have ways to measure the results of their work and can show ROI. This gives you added peace of mind that you’ve made the right decision

Simply get in touch to receive your your FREE 20-minute exploratory call.

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract a clearly defined audience and to drive profitable customer action. Very interesting, I hear you say, but how can it going to show a return on investment and help me generate leads in the process? Quantifying a return on investment (ROI) for your content marketing strategy can prove to be challenging, and often takes time.

Below we focus on the steps you need to take in order to create a solid content strategy that will be measurable and will help generate leads for your sales team

Buyer Personas

Understand who your customer is by creating buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional but true to life synopsis of your target audience. Your business may have 3 or 4 buyer personas but when you are starting your content strategy just pick one to get you started.

Identify Pain Points

What keeps your buyer persona awake at night? What is your customer lacking, what is his pain point, and how can you help to solve it? What are the questions they might ask themselves when they are looking for a way to address their pain point? The answers to these questions will provide you with the bones of your content strategy.

Generate Leads

There are a number of ways your content marketing can generate leads for your business for example having a Call To Action (CTA) at the end of a blog post where the reader fills in a short form consisting of various fields (often just their name and email address to begin with) in exchange for the offer. This offer should be something of value to the reader, for example information that helps them address their pain point, so that they will provide their personal information in exchange for it. As potential customers populate your CTA, their journey becomes traceable, allowing you to calculate the ROI on each lead as they convert to a sale.

Continue to create great content

Content comes in many forms and it’s your job to make it interesting. Mix it up by trying various delivery methods for your contents;

Don’t be afraid of asking for something in return for something else. If your readers are getting something of value it is a fair trade-off and one that will benefit both of you in the long-term. It also allows you, early on the process, to evaluate the man-hours it takes to create a successful campaign

Busy selling. No formal marketing function

If this is you, so far, so good. You haven’t had to think about marketing. Your product is strong and your network has ensured success to date. But you’re becoming more aware of your competition – your customers mention them and margins are eroding. It’s time to put a structure in place to keep you in your lead position. You need a marketing plan.

A strategic marketing plan is effectively a road-map to reaching your goals and brings clarity on what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. The questions that your marketing plan should address are:

  1. Who are our most likely customers?
  2. How should we let them know about our product or service?
  3. Who are our competitors?
  4. What are our goals for the next year?
  5. What is our marketing budget?
  6. Failing to develop a marketing plan can result in budget problems, low customer volume and, in a worst-case scenario, the closure of a business.

Without it, your company will lack the focus needed to achieve corporate goals and to develop plans that will bring the company forward in the right direction. A lack of marketing objectives means that your company does not have a specific set of tasks it is competent in and it has no vision for the future. Objectives are used to develop long-term growth and productivity plans that are essential for the sustained success of your business.

We’ve all been there. Hours spent discussing, researching, writing and indeed admiring a wonderfully crafted marketing plan. But 2 years on, how’s it going? Chances are the enthusiastic focus in those early months has given way to a bustling sales environment. When things get busy or when a marketing campaign just doesn’t work, it can be tempting to abandon the plan altogether. But what about your brand, your customers, your competitors, your future?

Here we look at 4 things you can do to keep on track:

1. Be inspired by your vision, every day

Our minds are our greatest asset. There is no substitute for the power of belief. When you clearly see the big picture, obstacles that might have caused chaos, often appear less challenging and more manageable. Focusing daily on your vision is one of the most inexpensive and profitable investments you’ll ever make in yourself.

2. Know your customer, every day

Stay close to your ideal customer and become an expert. While this takes time and effort, the more you integrate it into your regular schedule the easier it is. Stay on top of the news, anticipate how your customer will be affected by changes in the business environment. Take every opportunity to network and read online community forums – there is no better access to customer sentiment. In the Business 2 Business market, read your customer’s trade magazine and be part of related business associations. These are great ways to keep sharp about the things that matter to your ideal customer.

3. Know your competition, every day

If your customer stops think­ing that you offer a competitive advantage in addressing their needs, you lose and the competition wins. Don’t be the last to know what your competition is doing.

4. Your positioning, today

If you stay in touch with your vision, your customers and your competition, you’ll know when it’s time to alter your campaign, tweak your message, and develop your proposition based on your customer’s needs. Ask yourself, “Is my unique selling proposition still unique? Does anyone else do it better? What one thing can I do to serve my clients better?” Stay unique and stay relevant.

But how to maintain this focus?

When you look at your goals, ask yourself how and what you can do to achieve them and most importantly, focus on one marketing project at a time – one of the greatest mistakes people make in setting goals is trying to work on too many things at one time. There’s tremendous power in giving focused attention to just one idea, one project, or one objective at a time.

Keeping in touch with your business and marketing goals, ensures you are doing the right things in the right way, gives a sense of control over your business direction and will significantly contribute to the future success of your business.

Article extracted from Robert W. Bly’s ‘The Marketing Plan Handbook’

Promotional challenges for any business, Corporate or SME, are varied and many. But while Corporates can hire specialised talent, SME’s often don’t have the luxury. But that in itself needn’t be an obstacle. In many cases, what is required is a knowledgeable focus over a set number of hours per week, rather than a costly top talent.

Let’s look at the promotional challenges for SME’s today.

As part of the Smarter Living for Business series, Electric Ireland surveyed 132 SMEs about their attitudes towards doing business in Ireland in 2016. Here we look at how outsourcing marketing services can help business owners under the headings – Social Media, Online Engagement and Industry Intelligence.

1. How SMEs use Social Media

What is the best way of letting your customers know about your business? We are all familiar with the idea of social media marketing. Even the ‘non-Facebookers’ amongst us generally know about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The question for many SME owners is, can these social media platforms be of benefit to my business and if so, then how?

The survey found that business owners in Ireland are enthusiastic about social overall, with 66% of respondents (significantly higher than the European average) saying they use some form of it to promote their business – 53% have used Facebook, 23% used Twitter while only 13% used LinkedIn. Interestingly, just over a third (34%) said that they used no social marketing at all.

So, why the reluctance to use social media? Well, business owners can be wary of anything that feels like a waste of their time and resources. And for someone who already spends all day running their business, investing time and money into social media can be just another headache. This makes perfect sense of course, but are you missing an opportunity? Are your competitors taking advantage? And more importantly, are your customers left wondering?

Establishing a social media presence is a bit like learning to drive – hard work at the beginning but it soon becomes part of what you do. If you haven’t looked at outsourcing your marketing before, this could be a great way to try it. An experienced marketing partner can help you develop and execute a communications and social media plan for your business – clearly identifying who your targets are, what you want to say to them and how? Social media marketing can be a most effective and inexpensive way to continually promote your brand, your offering, to make your customers feel good and your prospects, to get interested in your business.

2. The true benefit is online engagement

For a business with a loyal customer base, social media can turn loyal customers into advocates. Most of us have taken a recommendation on a business or brand from a friend in the past, but social media can open up this enthusiasm to a much wider audience. Research has shown that people trust other people’s recommendations more than direct marketing, so a business with an active and satisfied customer base will always be more attractive than one without. And it’s these recommendations which can turn a curious viewer into a new customer.

So, social media is great for telling your customers about you, but it’s also useful for your customers telling you about themselves. There’s no better guide to what you’ve been doing right or wrong than customer reviews. A company that engages with its audience can quickly find out what its customers like and don’t like, and tailor their future business decisions based on this information. The advances in social media advertising tools have also allowed businesses to be much more focused in their marketing efforts. With the ability to geo-target to their specific locality, these platforms also open up SMEs to a wider national and international audience allowing for a better return on investment than traditional advertising methods like television and newspapers.

Engaging with your customers and audience online takes time and can be managed well by your marketing partner. They can keep you on track of what’s been said about you and puts you in a position to answer questions, compliments or complaints, quickly and to your advantage. Comments and reviews online can make or break a sale – better that they are under your control.

3. Keeping up with industry intelligence

So, how do SMEs keep in touch with news in their industry? Trade association newsletters are important, with 43% of survey respondents consulting them regularly, 39% read subscription newsletters, 29% get their news from Facebook and 17% from Twitter. Just under half of respondents stated that word of mouth was one of their primary sources for business updates. These results show there is a significant appetite amongst SME owners for industry related news, views and analysis. You can build a lead position for your brand by showing your expertise, solving problems, commenting on hot topics – in a way that appeals to your audience and makes them take notice. A good marketing partner will work with you to generate a suite of subjects that you have the expertise to talk about, and that your audience has the interest to read.

The Smarter Living for Business survey demonstrates that Irish companies are among the most progressive in the world when it comes to social media use. Enhancing your social media presence or building it from day 1 takes skill, effort and time but the rewards are significant. But don’t waste your precious time – engage with an expert who can help you with the thinking and ongoing work. A few hours a week will not cost you much but not embracing social media, certainly could.

Here are a few indicators that it’s time to consider outsourcing some or all of your marketing:

1. You’re not happy with the pace of growth

While marketing is just one element of business growth, it is a key driver. If your marketing is not delivering then a root and branch review may be required to ensure your talking to the right people in the right way. Your marketing efforts should make it easy for customers and prospects to do business with you – only then will you see an uplift in lead generation, sales and profit margins.

2. You don’t have time to think

Great marketing requires time and thought, two things you probably don’t have time for. Like any project, an established process leads to a better chance of success – initial brainstorming, market research, selection of strategy, detailed planning, scheduling, costing, and well delivered execution. Of more concern, an ‘on the fly’ approach to campaigns can lead to significantly wasted budget and missed opportunities, handing precious advantage over to your competitors. A marketing agency will give you the vital breathing space to think, plan and generally, get back in control.

3. You’re marketing is just boring

Your approach is restricted to the methods you know best, for example, print ads in trade magazines, website banners, etc. Yet, you know there’s a world of digital and social media marketing out there and that it could be good for your business, but where to start? It is the business of marketing agencies to stay ahead of the most effective and efficient methodologies today. Your marketing partner will introduce new ideas, new channels, new ways of doing things that may just bring in a whole new wave of leads and potentially, at a much lower cost.

4. You’re always up against a deadline

Even with the best planning in the world, there are periods of high workloads when anything not directly related to the sales process gets reprioritised. If marketing projects tend to drop off the list, with constant pressure on deadlines, then you probably need to look for outside help sooner rather than later. If you don’t, you’ll end up wasting valuable money, time & effort.

5. You don’t see what you’re getting out of it

Unlike hard and fast sales, marketing can be more difficult to pin down in terms of results. Key is to set goals and understand how to measure activity and performance against these goals. The objective is to develop an effective sales environment through for example, building brand awareness, generating leads to your website, increasing email subscriptions or conversions on your e-commerce platform. Marketing agency’s can help you develop realistic, achievable goals, devise a workable plan with creative ideas and excellent execution, with straightforward KPI (key performance indicator) measurement. This allows you the comfort of knowing how your marketing efforts and euro’s are contributing to your business growth.

If you recognise any of these signs, then it’s probably time to get help with your marketing. Going the outsource route means you can hit the ground running with an experienced team. It’ll take a couple of months for an agency to fully understand your business but the rewards are significant. Even if outsourcing is not your long-term plan, it’s a great way to get your marketing strategy established and high-quality marketing activity up and running. And you don’t have to do everything at once – you can outsource small portions of your marketing efforts to an agency and build it up over time

Ultimately, outsourcing your marketing will give your business a swift injection of expertise and creativity and give you back the breathing space to drive your business forward.

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