February 16, 2021

Best Small Business Marketing Agency - The 6 Key Factors

If you’re looking for a small business marketing agency, these are the 6 key factors that you should keep in mind during your search.

There are many good small business marketing agencies, but six key factors make one great. The difference between a great agency and a good agency can be profound. Good agencies can give you a positive return on your advertising spending, but great agencies yield twice as much or more. They do it because they have all of these six factors.

This is a quick 2 minute video summary of the six key factors that make a great small business agency. For a much richer discussion, please read below

All Great Small Business Marketing Agencies Begin with Strategy

What are marketing strategies for small businesses, and why are they important?

The academic definition of a marketing strategy is: defined as an organization's integrated pattern of decisions that specify its crucial choices concerning products, markets, marketing activities, and marketing resources in the creation, communication, and/or delivery of products that offer value to customers in exchanges

This definition puts a number of concepts together, which are worth examining one at a time. First, all decisions link back to a common communication objective or goal. This can be something like ‘build awareness from a to b;’ or ‘increase traffic by z%;” among others. The goal ensures that all the strategies are focused on delivering the same outcome. Second, decisions need to be made around what to sell (products), where to sell them (markets), how to sell them (marketing activities), and how much to spend (resources).Finally, it comes to communication - how do you solve their problem in a unique and valuable way? Customers need to understand the value you offer and how it is different from the competition. A clear, simple message performs best.

We always say that the marketing strategy is the engine of the business model. Just as a car wouldn’t go far without an engine, neither will a business model without a marketing plan. Plus, other experts agree: “Marketing strategy provides an organization an edge over its competitors”

Small Business Marketing Agency Strategy

How can you tell if any small business marketing agency has a solid background in strategy?

While the marketing tactics and media continue to evolve rapidly, the fundamental steps and disciplines have not. Marketing deals with human nature and psychology. As a result, the emotional needs that drive behavior change very slowly, if at all. Therefore, an ideal small business marketing agency marries this experience with the know-how to adapt those skills to suit the ever-evolving suite of tools available. To help, we developed the infographic below. It outlines all the stages required to build a great marketing strategy for small businesses.

Measurement & Return on Advertising Spending (ROAS)

Why is planning so important for a small business marketing agency?

Without good planning a goal setting, it’s hard to measure your return on investment. Return on investment is how much income you receive or increase in customers for every dollar you spend on marketing

What to look for in a measurement process to ensure a good ROAS?

To calculate an effective ROAS, you need a clear and measurable business objective. In addition, you need clear marketing and communication goals, which align with your objective. This is how you would measure your return. If you invest the time to develop a solid marketing strategy, you will have these metrics before your start. Therefore, it will be relatively easy to calculate an ROAS. In contrast, if you do not, calculating an ROAS will be difficult.

Small Business Marketing Agency ROAS

Any Good Small Business Marketing Agency Tests Constantly

Small Business Marketing Goals are useless without testing

You need to make sure that the testing is measuring the right outcomes. As a result, you will be able to show empirically that you met your objectives. Thereby, you avoid any wasted time or money. If your small marketing agency’s testing method is to toss a bunch of advertising copy and let the algorithm sort it out, then that’s a red flag. Algorithms are great when used properly. When not, it is garbage in. It may be cleaner garbage, for instance. But, it remains garbage out.

A combination of the best of the old and new provides the best results

While how we communicate with each has changed dramatically, we still are subject to the same decision-making processes and psychological needs. As mentioned earlier, a marketing strategy gives you a deeper understanding of your customers' needs. So, now, when you apply the algorithm method, you can narrow your search, reduce your spending, and use digital tools to get an answer faster.

Small Business Marketing Agency Testing

Digital Know-how is the Price of Entry

All good agencies have digital marketing know-how

As Chad Vanags points out in his article “How to Manage Digital Marketing for Small Business” in business.com. “Small businesses can thrive using digital marketing. Competition among small businesses is fierce… Basic digital marketing is relatively inexpensive. ”Therefore, if the small business marketing agency you're considering cannot demonstrate this knowledge, consider someone else.

Great ones know which digital marketing tactics work best and how to optimize

There is no one-size-fits-all answer. If there were, everyone would be doing it, and everyone would be a success. Therefore, it is critical to know how best to use the digital tools available to meet your objectives. Each tactic has its place. Some are better than others in different situations. For example, if your product or service requires customer education, then how you would use paid search, social media, etc. would be different from an impulse purchase. Thus, it’s knowing what to deploy and when that separates good from great.

Small Business Marketing Agency Experience

Experience with Small Business

Size does matter when it comes to picking the right small business marketing agency

Large agencies have become large because they are successful. They’ve been successful by servicing a wide range of clients. While a large agency has more resources, that doesn’t mean you get access to them. The major downside is the quality of people put on the account is proportional to your budget.

Experience matters more

Knowing that someone has been there and done what you are trying to accomplish can help reduce your risk. They have experienced what you are going through. As a result, they understand what you are facing. Marketing is both a science and an art. Rarely does the pure, academic-ivory-tower approach work. There are always real-world factors that need to be considered. Importantly, small business marketing agencies with experienced staff will know better where those pitfalls lie and how to avoid them.

A Great Small Business Agency is Willing to Share the Risk

Anyone who tells you marketing is a science is lying

The best agencies will admit that sometimes even the best strategies fail. That’s an inherent risk of marketing. The great small business marketing agencies aren’t afraid to share those failures. From them, they most likely learned something critical. When looking, you should ask about a campaign that didn’t work out, and what did they learn.

The best small business marketing agencies are willing to share the risk

You’re in this together. A great agency realizes this. Plus, they are also confident in their skills. Small businesses are least able to afford and to shoulder risks. Therefore, a great agency is willing to share this financial risk. It ties your success together. As a result, both of you have incentives to make it work

In Summary

Now, you know the six key factors that make a great small business marketing agency.

  1. Marketing Strategy: Clear understanding of the market and how you can win
  2. Measurement and ROAS: A great agency works will you to create clear and achievable goals and puts metrics in place to measure performance against them.
  3. Testing: Small business goals are useless without testing. A combination of old and new generates the best results.
  4. Digital know-how is the price of entry: All small business marketing agencies will say they have digital know-how. The key isn’t knowing the tactic, but how and when best to use it.
  5. Small Business Experience: Size matters, but experience matters more. An experienced team can help reduce your risk.
  6. Share the risk: The best small business marketing firms are willing to share the risk.

The difference between a great agency and a good agency can be the difference between breaking even on your ROAS vs. clearly adding to your bottom line.

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About the Author

Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile

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