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&Marketing

& Digital Marketing

Transparency + Flexibility: The Secret Drivers of Successful Marketing Outsourcing

In part one of our three-part blog series on successfully outsourcing your marketing function, you’ll learn why transparency and flexibility are the foundational characteristics of great marketing firms.

Company leaders devote so much time and energy to day-to-day operations, R&D, and accounting that marketing initiatives frequently fall by the wayside. Instead of spending time on generating new opportunities and focusing on the brand’s image, paperwork often takes priority. Hiring a marketing firm is a great solution. It’s not foolproof, however—while outsourcing allows businesses to do what they do best and leave the marketing to the professionals, many firms don’t provide transparency about what exactly they are working on. Others often demand high retainers regardless of the ebb and flow of their work. Clients want to know what they’re paying for; whether it be campaign performance analytics or how website traffic has increased after implementing an SEO strategy. Working with a transparent and flexible marketing firm saves time and money, allows you to keep up with rapidly changing buyers and technology, and provides access to a wide variety of industry experts at every stage of your company’s growth.

Save Time & Money

In a typical mid-sized company, an internal marketing team is headed by a marketing leader (Chief Marketing Officer, VP of Marketing, etc) and supported by a handful of full and part-time employees. According to Payscale.com, the median salary for SMB marketing leaders is $160,000 per year. When you start to factor in the total cost of employing the rest of the team, an internal marketing team can run a company over half a million dollars per year. Keep in mind, this is not including the other expenditures required for success, such as CRM, marketing automation software, and sales expenses. Many firms who cannot afford this hefty price tag neglect marketing initiatives, and in turn miss out on the potential to access new customers who may be excellent targets for their products and services.

Internal teams do have one big advantage: oversight. Leadership always knows the stage of each campaign and how initiatives align with their KPI, plus they can continually update strategy and execution. Many marketing consultants collect their retainers and seem to disappear, leaving businesses to hope their campaigns are being executed and analyzed well. The best, however, keep businesses constantly informed on where they are in a campaign, how well—or poorly—initiatives are going, and what adjustments are being made.

A lean, modular team can also grow, and change along with a business. It’s not uncommon to use an outside firm to manage one aspect of marketing, then later need a full-service marketing provider—or vice versa.. Many marketers are either too specialized to be full service or too big picture to provide single services. Working with a chameleon firm that can add or remove staff and services as needed is a more financially responsible way to continue being competitive.

Keep Pace with Changing Technology

Things change quickly in the world of technology. In 1982 the PC was created by IBM, eleven years later electronic mail made its debut, and in 2007 Salesforce changed the way sales prospects were tracked by introducing a cloud-based CRM platform. As mentioned above, executive teams are busy making sure that everything internally is running smoothly; how could they possibly be tasked with staying up to date with the changing features of CRM and marketing automation software? The latest Social Media trends? Which SEO keywords net the highest volume of searches? A flexible firm will have teams dedicated to the constant evaluation of the most cutting-edge tools and trends, in everything from email marketing to analytics tracking to social media automation.

Access Industry Experts

Polished industry experts often spend the latter years of their career as consultants, charging hundreds of dollars per hour just to tell you what’s wrong with your business without actually doing anything.

As a firm focused on both strategy and execution, &Marketing is anchored by a team of senior advisors and a partnership with Apprenace that expands capabilities far beyond the competition. As &Marketing’s senior advisors, Rahul Kapur, Joe Welsh, Prateek Lal, and Chris Hoyt bring decades of combined experience in digital marketing, strategy, business development, creative marketing, business law, and organizational development. The team is also bolstered by a network of 25+ industry experts (entrepreneurs, freelancers, and other members of the ‘gig’ economy). The expertise of these industry leaders is complemented by a partnership with Apprenace. & has the unique advantage of utilizing Apprenace interns to expand technical capabilities such as UI/UX design and backend development, as well as sales facilities like cold calling & email marketing. Since interns are continuously monitored by Apprenace’s leadership team, the work is always being done correctly and with the fresh perspective that can only be brought to the table by young professional interns. As buyers and decision makers are changing, a youthful standpoint in our corner is paramount.

The Perfect Partnership

The ideal marketing firm acts as a business partner. SMBs deserve better than a marketing firm that’s set in their ways, uncommunicative, and unable to take on a variety of different tasks. Luckily, &Marketing’s nimble team structure, dynamic leadership, and affordability make us a great option, no matter what your team’s sales and marketing initiatives may be. You’re great at running your business, there’s no doubt about that. Our experience & impact prove that we’re great at marketing. Let’s be great in unison. Talk to us about growth: it’s us & you together.

 

Stay tuned for part two in our series to learn more about how great outsourced marketing firms provide both strategic support and help execute marketing plans on a day-to-day basis.

From Inconvenient to Invaluable: The Art of the Conference Call

Ah, the conference call: so necessary, and often so needlessly cumbersome. When they work well, conference calls are an invaluable way to keep everyone on the same page and push projects forward. But we’ve all been on calls that did absolutely nothing but waste time—resulting in projects actually stalling and confusion all around.

With team members and clients all over the world, conference calls are a vital part of life here at &Marketing. We’ve learned to love them—mostly thanks to developing systems to improve productivity and efficiency of these calls. Looking to craft conference calls people actually look forward to? Here’s how we do it:

Ace the Agenda.
Most projects we work on include several action items, each requiring input from many different individuals. Noting the overall project on an agenda and breaking it down into several bullet points always helps create more productive conversations. Bonus points for circulating the agenda to the call participants in advance—this helps ensure everyone comes better prepared and helps keep the meeting on track.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.
Once you’ve disseminated that well – organized agenda, it should be easy to arrive as prepared as possible. Whether you are leading the call or just participating, have everything at the ready before you dial in. Especially if you’ll be screen sharing, open the reports you may need to share—scrambling to find the right spot on a weekly analytic report not only wastes everyone’s time but instantly labels you as unprofessional. And please, if there is even the slightest chance of screen sharing, close anything NSFW. You’d be surprised how many people neglect this step! Most importantly, imagine everything you would need to explain a project to someone who knew nothing about it, and have it ready to go. Be the hero who can say “I have that data right here…”

Ask and Answer Appropriately.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if something is unclear—chances are someone else is just as confused. Questions allow the group to think about the project from different perspectives, leading to increased understanding as a team. You should also feel comfortable jumping in with an answer to someone else’s question, but only if you’re sure you can answer it well. There’s no shame in passing the ball to a more knowledgeable teammate, and nothing derails a call faster than when several people chime in unnecessarily.

Determine and Document Next Steps.
Our team concludes all meetings by wrapping up action items, both at the end of the call and with a follow-up email. The email, sent soon after the call, documents all client actions and &Marketing responsibilities. This holds us accountable for our promises to the client and keeps the project on time and on task.

Ideally, conference calls are the most efficient way to keep a project moving forward. Once everyone is clear on what needs to be done, how it will get done, and what to do next, your team works with synchronized precision—no matter where they are.

At &Marketing, we’re experts at project momentum because we know that if you’re not moving forward you can quickly lose your lead. Following the above steps ensures smooth, productive, and efficient conference calls that help bring your project to the finish line.

Your competition is moving forward. Are you?

 

The Birth of &Marketing

Over the course of my professional career, two major shifts have resulted in the birth of &Marketing: The Internet as the dominant marketing channel, and the emerging power of SMBs.

The Internet

First and most obviously, the emergence of the Internet has fundamentally changed the way people do pretty much everything — including making purchases. In the marketing context, the cost of information has plummeted to virtually zero, and people gather information about new products and services in completely new ways. We ask our phones anything from “Where is the nearest pizza shop?” to “What’s the best CRM?” That’s right, it’s not just for B2C marketing… B2B purchasers of the most complex type are going online to learn more digitally. A recent report showed that a staggering 61% of the much maligned but extremely vital millennials describe themselves as key decision makers in technology purchases.

I recently led a segmentation project for a B2B industrial provider looking to understand how their organization could win more RFPs. We interviewed key decision makers to understand how they make these complex, high-priced choices. Among other findings, a major conclusion was that these decision makers did their own research prior to calling any technology provider. They used online search engines, industry e-publications, and exploited their own networks primarily accessed online. The initial RFP question was the wrong one because, by the time they wrote the RFP, most of the purchase decision was already made.  

The Power of SMBs

Second, the allure of large companies is disappearing. The basic contract used to be: Get a college degree, land a good job at a big company, work hard, and you’ll be promised a wonderful upper-middle-class lifestyle and a stable retirement after a few decades. Today, the pension, the promise of stability, and the guarantees are gone.

Big public companies are under tremendous pressure to cut costs and return shareholder value, a burden many smaller private companies do not shoulder. As someone who has spent his career at (and supporting) large, global companies, I’ve lived through multiple booms and busts. To be clear, I am eternally grateful for these experiences that shaped my career. I respect and admire these companies in many ways—they are solving vexing global challenges that can only be fixed by leveraging their size and scale.

What’s the result of this shift in the modern workforce? ‘Job-hopping’ is the new norm. More entrepreneurs. More small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). More people are leaving or bypassing large companies altogether to work in faster-paced environments competing against these larger companies.  And how do SMBs compete with far fewer resources? They out-execute them. They’re faster and more nimble. They focus better. They pivot quickly.  

Why “&”?

So what do these two shifts mean for SMBs? They mean that in the digital world, some companies have led, some have kept up, and some have fallen behind. Almost all that have fallen behind know they need a “modern” marketing strategy but don’t have the staff or experiential knowledge to execute it. These SMBs tend to be good at what they do in their specific area (a particular technology or software, local knowledge, ability to provide unparalleled service or other expertise), but many don’t have the marketing support to bring these new world skills into their organizations.

That’s where we come in. A tremendous amount of formal and informal research has gone into the birth of &Marketing. Counterintuitively (to some), smaller companies don’t want the same type of marketing support as large companies… it must be scaled perfectly to fit the specific needs of that organization. One size does not fit all, and bigger is certainly not better.  “&” symbolizes the partnership we strive to build with our client’s organization. Yes, we bring marketing expertise, but we don’t make outlandish claims to ”dominate the market” or “10x your sales.” That level of hyperbole is impossible to attain without first understanding core business challenges and building a sound strategy and execution plan within the context of your industry and your company.  

Unleashing SMBs

& specifically aims to solve identified gaps in the marketing services space for SMBs:

  • Strategy & Execution: Many marketing providers either can’t step back and see the big picture, or don’t roll up their sleeves and actually do the work. Their feedback was clear to me: SMBs don’t need yet another consultant telling them what to do, and don’t have time for junior level employees who need to be given detailed instructions. & provides qualified professionals who can both develop and execute an effective marketing plan.
  • Transparency & Flexibility: Many marketing providers don’t provide transparency about what they are working on and often demand high retainers. Clients want to know what work is being done, how previous campaigns went versus their KPIs, and they want the ability to make changes on the fly.
  • Win – Win: Many marketing providers charge based on activity, not for results.  &Marketing works with our clients to lower overhead costs and aligns activities to our client’s success criteria—# of leads generated, # of new customers, increased revenue, or some other aligned metric. This ensures that all activity is focused squarely on moving our client’s business forward.  

Wherever you are in your growth journey—whether you are just getting started with marketing, or if you have an established team that needs specific support—we encourage you to consider &Marketing for your growth challenges. Let us help you navigate your challenges and prepare your organization for the future. With &Marketing, it’s us & you.