The rise of the full-service marketing agency provides opportunities for growth companies in need of a marketing and communications makeover
By Ron Truman
PROFITguide.com, September 1, 2005.
The idea of using an ad agency is nothing new. For years, entrepreneurs have relied on outside advertising and graphic design specialists to come up with creative campaigns and snappy slogans that sell their product. Today, however, growth companies are catching on to a new trend—they are not just outsourcing the "artsy" side of marketing, but the entire marketing function. Full-service marketing companies are offering everything from ad creative, logo and tagline creation to public relations strategy and execution, packaging and product positioning. CEOs are making the most of it.??
Bringing in experienced marketers to work as a business partner can cost you about the same as an in-house marketing department (minus associated employee overhead), says Carolyn Reid, president of the Toronto-based Marketing Department, a company that creates integrated marketing plans and specializes in the ongoing management of marketing strategy and sales effectiveness, but she adds the benefits are numerous.??
For one thing, it takes time and resources to hire and train employees to do your marketing and to find suppliers who will produce the marketing and sales products you will need. By outsourcing, you can choose marketers who specialize in working with businesses in your field, have experience that can lead to new approaches for your business and bring with them a roster of suppliers for dependable creation of marketing and sales products. An additional advantage is that as your need for marketing effort increases or decreases, you can scale the marketing effort without adding or laying off employees.??
Nevertheless, it’s not just a matter of picking a partner and leaving them to it. Entrepreneurs need to be constantly building rapport with their marketing partner and working closely with them.
“Collaboration is essential,” says Reid. “You will get your best results when you consider your marketing partner part of your company and not an outsider in an ivory tower.”
If you don’t feel comfortable relying on a third party for all your marketing needs, or you don’t have the budget to, it is still possible to outsource one or two elements of your strategy. Chris Ward of Riverhorse America, for example, specializes in creating positive public reputations for his clients through branding. He says if a company is “reluctant to go off the deep end” by committing a large budget to marketing, it “can dip its toe in the water and still reap some significant benefits.”
Ward's Toronto-based strategic branding agency will develop a plan, create a logo and tagline for its clients, then ensure all advertising, public relations and other communications programs are consistent with the brand in both messaging and look and feel. For a company with 10 employees in a business-to-business market, Ward says the upfront investment in branding can range from $10,000 to $40,000 depending on how much research and staff involvement is required and whether or not the company has to develop a totally new visual identity.
Whether you decide to outsource your entire marketing department or just part of it, marketing partners can help your company create a creative strategy that will help push your business forward. And that's a very good thing, says Ward: "Companies that successfully distinguish themselves from their competitors and work at creating a positive image are worth more."
Okay – so you can’t turn on the TV or open a newspaper without seeing the words recession or downturn.
The fact of the matter is, the global economy is not in the position it was a year ago. While your natural reaction is to pull back and cut spending in areas like marketing – we challenge you to consider another course of action.
Ask yourself what your competitors are most likely doing right now in terms of marketing spending. Probably something along the lines of your initial reaction. Now what does this create? A void – an impressive opportunity for your company to spend wise marketing dollars to push yourself ahead of the pack. It’s not necessarily about spending more, or less – it’s about spending differently
Red Wheel will come up with a marketing solution that works for you - and takes into consideration the current state of the economy - and how it is effecting your company and your customers.
Belt Tightening? Looking for Extra Marketing Help?
You understand the importance of marketing during a downturn.
You also understand the importance of your dollar.
So when cash flow is an issue, keeping an entire marketing department on staff, or even just one mid-level marketer can be quite expensive. A simple alternative, if you are looking to downsize, but not cut your marketing out completely – is to outsource.
When you outsource your marketing to Red Wheel, we become your marketing department. You gain access to an entire TEAM of seasoned senior level marketing professionals – all for less than what it would cost you to carry employees internally.
Rick Spence, Financial Post Published: Monday, September 14, 2009
The challenge of any successful business is to turn a weakness into strength. Figure out what's not working, and then find ways to overcome that flaw and outshine the competition.
No one does this better than entrepreneurs. Remember when lawn-spraying companies proudly sported names like ChemLawn? Once consumers started questioning the concept of dumping chemicals on their backyards, entrepreneurs responded by starting new lawn-care firms with idyllic names such as Barefoot and Trugreen.
I just read of another example at a bar in Berlin. Every retailer gambles when it purchases inventory, knowing some items will be more popular than others. In the heart of what used to be East Berlin, the Broker's Bier Borse devised a market-oriented solution. An electronic ticker over the bar readjusts prices every three minutes, upping the price tag on popular beers or lunch specials, and lowering the prices of the drinks and dinners currently less in demand. Result: better-balanced inventory, fewer product shortages, and daily discounts for bargain hunters.
What does it take to turn common obstacles into opportunities? It's just a matter of attitude. You have to be continually open to new ideas and see your business from the customer's point of view. What frustrates your clients? What prevents them from doing more business with you, or even with your competitors? Only once you identify these problems can you dream up solutions that will win their hearts and wallets.
Twenty years ago, Apple Computer faced a distribution colossus in the form of Microsoft-powered personal computers. But CEO Steve Jobs knew people hated having to learn MS-DOS just to type out a letter. So Apple made the user experience a selling feature, first by offering easy-to-use graphical operating systems and later supplying the coolest designs, from the one-piece iMac to the ultrathin MacBook Air laptop.
Every entrepreneur understands establishing a defensible niche, but you must push beyond that to grow. Toronto-based hamburger chain Lick's took on McDonald's with a chunky charcoal-grilled "homeburger" that made the Big Mac look small, and singing servers who make dining out a more personal experience than lining up at KFC. Now 30 years old, Lick's has 24 outlets and is expanding slowly but steadily across Canada.
The ultimate underdog, WestJet, became Canada's most valuable airline by stressing friendly service. With Air Canada staff known for their surly, civil-service demeanour (and heated strikes), WestJet promised crews that care, because they think like owners (and in fact are).
Examples such as these can help you spot opportunities to turn weaknesses into strengths. Is customer service a problem in your industry? Measure your service levels, then set the bar higher (remember FedEx's "absolutely positively" campaign?). Train your staff to go the extra mile -- and provide incentives to encourage them to do it every day.
Fill in gaps in your product line. If demand is growing for lower-cost products in your industry (or for higher-priced, higher-quality items), diversify your offerings by setting up new brands or distribution channels to meet these needs. If Indigo (Indigo, Chapters, Coles, and Chapters. indigo.ca),hotel chains, supermarkets and wireless companies can do it, you can too. Are customers bored with the same-old same-old in your industry? Mix it up. WestJet armed its flight crews with silly jokes ( "If you would all pay attention to the following safety demonstration -- we would be genuinely surprised") to put a laugh into every liftoff. In Halifax, Pete Luckett's Pete's Frootique introduced the colour, freshness and cheeky personality of an English country market into the tired grocery business -- and even a busker-in-residence. Luckett's motto: "Be first, best or different."
Find more ways to give your customers what they want. After Apple upended the personal device market by inventing the sleek iPod, Jobs became an even bigger hero by forcing the record labels to accept his 99-cent price tag for downloading songs on iTunes.
Loblaw's President's Choice built its reputation for quality by packing more chocolate-chips into its cookies than the national brands had ever done.
Many companies overcome customer mistrust (or unfamiliarity with new products and services) by offering no-quibble guarantees. If you don't like my product, take your money back; if you're not satisfied with my service, we'll keep trying till you are. The risk is low. As a business journalist, I get to ask indelicate questions, and one of my favourites is, "How often has someone taken you up on your guarantee?" The most common answer: "I'd have to check. No one has done it in a long time."
Transforming problems into strengths is a game-changing strategy. It may require updating your brand promise, or reinventing the whole business. Innovation has to spring from genuine customer need and must fit naturally with your company culture. But when you learn to redefine industry obstacles as custom-made opportunities, you find business gets easier. And a lot more fun.
5 Reasons Why an Outsourced Marketing Service Is Your Best Bet To Invigorate Sales and Profits
If you are running a $10 to $75 million company that is not achieving its full sales and profit potential, you almost certainly need to take a closer look at your marketing. If you can relate to this situation, here’s a new alternative that has helped other companies in situations similar to yours.
Now you can retain a professional outsourced marketing service to develop and implement a customized marketing program designed to get your sales and profits back on track.
There are 5 distinct advantages to outsourcing all or a portion of your marketing.
1. Senior Marketing Expertise That Is Cost Effective
You get access to a team of seasoned professionals, who will provide the full range of marketing expertise from a single source. Why hire one internal marketer, when you can draw on a team of senior level marketing professionals for the same cost? An outsourced marketing department is the most comprehensive solution to your marketing needs, and it can be scaled to any budget.
2. Fresh Insights from an External & Objective Source
Outsourced marketing professionals will help you better understand your business. They will listen to you, your employees and your customers and hear things that you may have missed because you are too close to the everyday operation of your business. From this they will help you to better articulate your company’s Unique Value Proposition.
Here’s an example. One of our clients thought he was in the business of selling commercial and industrial cleaning equipment…that is until we – his outsourced marketing service – pointed out that he was really in the business of helping managers solve problems. With this new understanding, the company changed its positioning to focus on providing cleaning solutions rather than cleaning equipment. And within months sales took off! The client was now communicating his value in a way that resonated with his clients and prospective clients.
3. An Integrated Marketing Plan will Increase Revenue
To have a meaningful impact on your sales and profits, you will need an
Integrated Marketing Plan that encompasses not only marketing communications, but also product management strategies, sales tools, sales processes and training programs.
An integrated marketing plan should address ways to:
Increase new client acquisitions
Increase sales from existing clients
Increase client retention
Not only should your marketing program address these key issues, it should be customized according to your company’s size, budget and business objectives.
4. Testing and Measurement Will Improve Profits
A professional outsourced marketing service should set up a testing process to ensure the effectiveness of all advertising communications. Ongoing measurement of other marketing initiatives also ensures optimal effectiveness. Testing and measurement will help to reduce the cost of acquiring a new customer, and continually improve the effectiveness of all marketing initiatives. This will ensure that you are getting the best possible value from every dollar you are spending on sales and marketing...you will get more bang for your marketing buck!
5. Network of Specialty Suppliers Ensures Work Gets Done Effectively & Efficiently
A good outsourced marketing service will have a range of contacts with specialty suppliers including graphic designers, web developers, advertising agencies, event organizers and others. This means they can quickly bring to the table the right trusted suppliers with the right skills, and usually negotiate preferential pricing in the process.
When entering into an important contract on behalf of your company, you would never trust its drafting to a newly minted lawyer…or worse yet…to someone on your staff with no legal training. Correspondingly, your company’s marketing strategy is at least as important to your company’s success… so, be sure you have access to top notch marketing expertise on an ongoing basis.
If you are looking to jump-start your sales and profits...you may want to consider an outsourced marketing service to take advantage of:
Senior marketing expertise at a reasonable price
Fresh insights from an external & objective source
An integrated marketing plan to increase revenue
Testing and measurement to improve profits
A network of specialty suppliers to ensure your work gets done effectively & efficiently
To summarize…many small and midsize companies should consider
Outsourced Marketing Management to ensure their business achieves its full potential.
Carolyn Reid is the President of Red Wheel Marketing.
Red Wheel Marketing is an Outsourced Marketing Service providing marketing and sales strategy and implementation to small and midsized companies.