Outsource your marketingSo you’re outsourcing your company’s marketing. Maybe it’s because you’re too busy to handle all of that by yourself. And no one who works for you has the time or experience to do a good job with it either. Or perhaps you’re just more comfortable turning over important tasks like that to a professional.

Whatever the reason, you’ve got someone (or a team of people) working on your website, your pay-per-click, your social media, your email campaigns, text message marketing… the works. Congratulations, that’s a great business decision!

As fabulous as your marketing partner may be, there is still some work you’re going to have to do to make sure they can help you succeed. It would be great if you could just turn them loose and not have to think another thing about it, but that’s just going to waste your money.

You are the expert on your business. You know your products and services. You know your clientele. You know their problems and how to solve them. You know their questions and how to answer them. You know how your business is integrated into the community and what your reputation is. Your marketing partner knows what to do with all this info, but they need what’s in your head in order to get started.

When I was building websites for small businesses, I discovered that the business owner would often just disappear once we signed the contract. Poof! They hired a web developer and could check that off the to-do list and bask in the knowledge that someone else was going to handle it all for them. They wouldn’t take my calls or answer my emails anymore.

My first task was helping them understand that I couldn’t build an effective website for their business without their participation. When that realization dawned, they often became cranky and irritated. “That’s what I hired you for! So I don’t have to do this!”

“Yes,” I would say, sympathetically, “I totally understand. I’m the expert on building you a great website that is properly optimized. It will look great and work well. It will be an excellent 24×7 representative of your business. But YOU are the expert on your business. So let me pull that information from you and I can get started.”

Do yourself and your business a favor, and make sure you don’t leave your marketing partner hanging out there, trying to create great stuff for you without any help. Here are some things you should be prepared to participate in (and don’t delegate this to an employee until you’ve taken a stab at it first):

For your website (and blogging and most anything):

  • The key thing you need to provide here is background about your company. What you do, what sets you apart from your competition, why people should hire you or buy from you. These are things that your marketer can’t make up.
  • Bullet points are fine. They can build them into a story.
  • Most frequently asked questions from your customers
  • Most common problems your customers face that you resolve
  • Photos, logos, and graphics. The more assets like this that you can provide, the better.
  • Ads you’ve done, news stories about your company, press releases, brochures or other marketing collateral you’ve produced before
  • Thank you notes, testimonials or other customer feedback
  • Info about community involvement, certifications and licenses you may have, awards your company has won, charitable activities your company sponsors, organizations your business belongs to – you get the idea.
  • Ghostwriters can be very helpful but what they write will have more impact if you provide guidance and personalization.

For your pay-per-click:

  • Be willing to spend enough to make your campaign successful but don’t blow your entire marketing budget here. You’re interested in conversions, not the number of clicks. So if you only get 10 clicks on your ad at $5 per click, but it results in a $1000 sale, it’s greatly successful. Whereas 100 clicks at $1 per click resulting in a $50 sale loses money.
  • Let your account manager identify the best keywords to target. They want to get the most bang for the buck for you and they know how best to do it.
  • Identify your competitors. That’s a big help in defining strategy.

For your social media:

  • Help your marketer define the persona you want to project on your social media accounts. Strictly serious or more lighthearted? This will help define what content to share and how to share it.
  • Who is your ideal customer/client? The more you know about your audience, the more successful you will be in reaching them.
  • A major aspect of social media – whether you like it or not – is customer service. People will be complaining, asking questions, and making comments about your business on Twitter and Facebook. Your marketing partner may be able to immediately respond, letting people know that someone will take care of them, but the heavy lifting is up to you. Respond and resolve as quickly as you possibly can.
  • Keep in mind that your social media accounts are not a license to advertise, promote your business non-stop, and sell, sell sell. No one wants to read that kind of pushy content on social media. Occasional self-promotion is fine, but you should be participating in social media to engage and serve.

For email marketing:

  • Do yourself a favor and become familiar with law surrounding email marketing.
  • Be willing to test different things and make changes based on results.
  • This is an interruptive action. Don’t overdo it. Even loyal customers can get irritated by too many emails from you.

For text message marketing:

  • Loyalty campaigns, coupons, special offers… be sure you have a really good reason to interrupt someone on their phone. This is a more personal and intrusive kind of marketing than any other method. Tread lightly.
  • Create appealing offers or rewards that your marketer can enthusiastically promote.

Bottom line: make yourself available when your marketing partner is looking for information, artwork or guidance from you. Time and effort you invest on the front end, while your marketing is being set up, will greatly improve the quality and increase the return you can expect.