Okay, so this is a question that comes up quite a bit for small businesses. At some point as a small business owner, you’re likely going to ask yourself “should I hire a digital marketing agency for my small business?”
You’d think as a digital marketing agency that we’d automatically tell you “Yes! Of course you need a marketing agency!”, but that’s just not the case.
For some businesses, the answer would definitely be yes, but for others, the answer would very likely be no. The truth is that no two businesses are alike (even if they’re in the same industry). So how can you know what the answer is for you and your business?
The only way to answer that questions accurately and honestly is to know yourself, know what your goals are, and take a true survey of where you’re at as a business.
In this article, we’re going to help you ask the right questions to see if hiring a digital marketing agency is truly right for you– and what you read might surprise you.
Is Your Product or Service Ready to Sell?
This seems like a simple one, but we have run into quite a few businesses who are looking into getting some digital marketing started, but they’re not quite at the stage where it’s a good idea.
In fact, we don’t want to needlessly scare you, but if you start marketing too soon it can kill your company before it even starts. If you burn through your startup money too quickly because you’re marketing too soon, you can absolutely run out of the money needed for other critical parts of the business.
We’ve seen companies spend too much on “building hype” or “spreading the word” that they don’t have enough cash to keep their products in stock. Or, we’ve seen some folks misjudge the power of marketing and dump money into it far too soon only to realize that they don’t have enough money to make payroll or pay their rent.
Ask yourself this: Are you open for business and are things going smoothly? Do you have a functional, fairly smoothly running business? And are you making sales? Are you in a place where you can take what you’re doing now and scale it, and you’d make money?
If the answer to those questions is generally yes, then it might be time to start marketing. Think of marketing as bringing more people in to experience what you already know is working, and converting them into paying customers.
So we’ve established that you’re ready to start marketing, but do you need a digital marketing agency at this point? Maybe. Honestly, this depends on a lot of factors. If your margins are razor thin, or if you are running lean on start-up capital, it might be safer to go old school. Maybe to start you should just tell everyone you can about your company and do your best to focus on grassroots marketing and word of mouth.
On the other hand, that could be risky. If your efforts aren’t strong enough, you could be sentencing your company to a quick death.
A middle ground is involving the right agency that can coach you right from the very beginning. By involving an experienced agency that’s affordable and focuses on small businesses could be just the thing you need. Here at Good Rep Media, we focus on helping small businesses thrive, and if you’re just starting out, let’s have a conversation about how we might be able to help.
The bottom line? No matter what, don’t pay for any marketing until you can get a return on your investment by making actual sales.
How Much Will Marketing Cost?
Here’s the real answer: it’s hard to get a straight answer on this from most marketing companies. Why is that? Well, one reason is that many agencies often charge as much as they can get away with depending on the client. There are even companies that have various copies of the same services but at different price points.
Why do you think that most marketing companies only give potential clients after they enigmatically and mysteriously “put together a quote.” It’s a known practice in the digital marketing world to charge clients on a sliding scale based on how deep their pockets are. Some marketing agencies have been known to mark up their services astronomically (from 100% to up to 1000%) to companies that they believe can afford to foot the bill.
Another reason why it can be tricky to nail down a specific cost for how much digital marketing might cost for your business is that your marketing fingerprint will be 100% unique to you and your company. There really isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution that can apply to every business.
Having said all of that, there are definitely some average prices that exist for various digital marketing services. The trick is knowing which services match your company’s goals the best for excellent results.
Here are some average costs across the country for some popular digital marketing services (note that some of them have pretty wide ranges to be accurate):
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) = $1,500 to $5,000 per month
- Social Media Marketing = $900 to $20,000 per month
- Website Design = $2,500 to $100k per website
- Pay-per-click (PPC) Advertising = $9,000 to $10,000 per month (or 5-20% of monthly ad spend + the actual money spent)
- Email Marketing = $500 to $5,000 per month (or $0.1 to $0.5 per email)
Again those are just some averages, but it’s all about who’s doing the work. Some agencies have minimums they’ll charge companies of any size.
And don’t worry– if any of those price points sound out of reach, you’ll love our rate card. Marketing for small businesses is what we do. We focus on affordability and we have a broad range of marketing services tailored for businesses just like yours starting as low as $200 per month.
Some other factors that may drastically affect the price of digital marketing are:
- How competitive your industry/market is
- Your current online presence/reputation
- Where you’re located
- How quickly your sales cycle is
As you can see, there are quite a few factors involved when it comes to marketing for any small business. Truly, it’s often a case-by-case basis, and can be a bit overwhelming for business owners at times.
What Does a Marketing Agency Actually Do?
A truly great digital marketing agency’s job is pretty simple. At the top level, a marketing agency’s function is to get more people to become your customers (and to get your existing customers to spend more).
They’ll take people who have never heard about you on a journey. They’ll shepherd them from the starting point of first hearing about your brand to buying your products– but that’s just the beginning. Great marketing agencies will also guide customers to return to buy more products, and eventually become advocates who tell others about your business.
Agencies do this in a variety of different ways using online resources like:
- Your company’s website
- Your social media channels (like Facebook)
- Business listings
- Other online sources like Google
- Marketing software and online tools
That’s certainly not an exhaustive list of what a digital agency will use by any means, but it should give you the general idea.
Another thing that marketing companies are great at is pulling your online presence together so it all gels and makes sense to people who see it. This is often known as “building your brand.”
This just means that the digital agency makes sure that everything that your company puts online makes sense, flows together, and nothing contradicts itself. It also ensures that your company is represented in a way that feels true and honest, and matches your business’s personality. This sort of branding is helpful to attract the right kinds of customers to your products and services.
Marketing Agencies Don’t Handle Sales and Service
You might be saying “Wait, what? Digital marketing agencies don’t handle sales?”, and if it seems like we’re contradicting ourselves, let us explain. A great digital marketing agency will bring you the perfect customers… but if you can’t sell them your product, that’s really on you.
Here’s what we mean.
A great example of this would be a pizza parlor. A strong digital marketing agency will bring you a lot of hungry people who like pizza… but it’s your job to make sure that you sell delicious pizza. Or what if your prices are way too high, or if your pizza parlor is dirty? Do you see what we mean?
No amount of great marketing can solve the problems that come with having a subpar pizza parlor. In fact, marketing a subpar pizza parlor is a bad idea because you’re spending money and not getting a return on investment– not to mention that you’ll likely start racking up bad reviews.
A huge factor to keep in mind is that how you conduct your sales and your customer service is not part of what a marketing company does.You have to be very confident that whatever your product or service is, it’s good, and that customers want it. You also need to know that you or your sales team are actually able to sell your product, proving that it has value. When you do this, marketing can work wonders.
So is hiring a digital marketing agency right for you? Well, ask yourself an honest question: are your products and sales abilities up to snuff? If so, then hiring an agency could be the boost you need for the best, fastest results. If not, then maybe it’s time to work on improving those areas of your business.
Can You Do It Yourself?
So, this one is tricky. We have to admit that we actually started our digital marketing agency because we were once directly in your shoes. We were small business owners who were looking to grow our companies, but couldn’t find an agency that we could a) afford, or b) that we really trusted to take care of us.
So while the answer is technically yes (since we did in fact handle our marketing ourselves), we would give you the warning that we wouldn’t wish what we went through on our worst enemies. It was a long, grueling journey with many years (and many dollars) spent on hard-won education. And if we’re being super candid, the #1 thing that helped us learn when we first started out was good old-fashioned trial and error.
So you absolutely don’t have to be a guru to market your own business. But we don’t recommend it. It usually takes a minimum of a few months training and some pretty substantial trial and error before you start seeing any results.
If you want to see 3 signs that your small business needs to hire a digital marketing agency, you can also read this article here.
Are You Ready to Scale?
Are you prepared if your marketing blows up and you start getting a lot more customers? Your reflex might be to immediately say “of course!”, but really think it through.
Can you invest in more inventory if needed? Hire more staff? And do you know how much sales and revenue potential your area actually has (often known as market share)? And if you did explode, do you have the ability to offer new products and services in the foreseeable future?
These are all important things to consider when deciding whether or not to hire a digital marketing agency.
Are You Ready for A Business Partner?
This is an important aspect of hiring a digital marketing company that many people don’t consider. When you hire a truly good digital marketing agency, it’s actually more of a partnership than a client/vendor relationship.
It’s important that both you– and the digital agency– are able to communicate clearly, and are transparent about successes, failures, numbers, and the overall goals. This level of commitment is the only way for your business to reap the benefits of hiring a digital agency, and finding true success.
So if you’re not ready for a committed relationship with a company that will act as more of a partner, then hiring a digital marketing agency may not be the right move for you.
Good Rep Media is the Perfect Digital Agency if You DO Need One
Look, we know how intimidating it can be to hire a marketing company you trust. Like we mentioned earlier, that was us just a few years ago. But we specialize in working with small businesses like yours to get incredible results.
We truly want to see you succeed, so if you’re still not 100% sure if you should hire a digital marketing agency, let’s have a free conversation and figure it out together. You might be surprised that by the end of the conversation the answer might be “no” for your business… but you won’t know for sure until we talk.
We understand that small businesses like yours are the backbone of the Grand Rapids economy, and we know that when you grow, it helps so many others. We believe that a rising tide raises all ships, and here at Good Rep, we’ll help you grow your business.
Let us help you today. A consultation is 100% free, and you have nothing to lose.