04 Jan When (and How) to Hire a Marketing Agency
As a crafty entrepreneur you’re busy wearing all the hats in your business – idea creation, product development, packing and shipping, running a storefront, and, of course, marketing. When the business first starts, you’re working on building a stable business so you often try to do all the jobs yourself. But, as you grow, it’s time to start thinking about which jobs you can delegate to other members of your team so you can focus on what you do best to bring the most value to your business. Today, we’ve put together some of our best advice on why you should hire a marketing agency, when you might decide to outsource your marketing to an agency, and how you can set yourself up for a successful business relationship.
Why Hire a Marketing Agency?
What makes hiring a marketing agency different from adding a person to your team? A good agency brings in-house systems and processes and makes your social media strategy and execution more efficient. An agency has a team that it has built over time, and is used to working with clients so there shouldn’t be frequent turnover, ensuring consistency over time. When you hire a marketing agency, you’re hiring a team with domain authority and expertise in the industry. For instance, who can keep up with all the best ways to use ever-changing social media platforms? A top notch agency stays informed about trends so you don’t have to – they should be sharing that knowledge with you and implementing it into their work constantly.
A marketing agency often brings with it extensive connections in the field. Even though Stitchcraft Marketing has a small footprint, we network with a variety of other professionals in the industry, collaborating with everyone from web developers, to Google ad managers, to amazing photographers and more.
Hiring a marketing agency with experience in your field is a must. We often meet clients after they have experimented using a larger agency, or one that isn’t specialized in the crafting industry. And frankly, a lot of marketing agencies don’t understand the crafting industry. Stitchcraft Marketing is a marketing agency of experts in knitting, spinning, scrapbooking, quilting, and sewing and that makes the difference in how we strategize and execute social media campaigns. We speak the language, we are immersed in the culture and we thoroughly understand the buying behavior of your customer.
Now that we’ve convinced you why you should hire an agency to level up your marketing efforts, let’s talk about when it’s time to do just that.
When to Hire a Marketing Agency
There are a number of reasons you might decide it’s time to hire a marketing agency. The first is that you’re simply out of hours in the day and you can no longer do everything. Are social media posts and newsletters always the last thing on your list of priorities? Do you find it hard to maintain a consistent schedule and messaging? Do you feel like there’s a disconnect between your strategy planning and the execution of your marketing campaigns? These are all reasons you might want to consider outsourcing your marketing.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when determining if it’s the right time to add an agency to your team:
- What can the business afford to spend?: When you’re doing all your own marketing in house, you may not be spending very much money. Outside of advertising fees, you may be creating all your own photography, social media content, newsletter content, etc. When you decide to hire an agency, you need to set aside money each month to devote to the effort. We recommend determining what you can easily afford to spend for at least 6 months before approaching any agency or additional hires. A general rule of thumb is to spend around 8% of your gross revenue in marketing. For example, if you’re bringing in at least $150K per year, you can start with a decent marketing budget of $1000 per month, or $12K per year. Remember it will take a bit of time to establish a good working relationship and for whomever you hire to adopt your tone and voice. If you’re stretching your budget to its limit in that first month or two and not seeing immediate results (those can take a few months to manifest), you’re going to be tempted to pull the plug just as your new team and processes start to come together.
- What tasks do you want to outsource?: Maybe you LOVE shooting videos, but you hate adding them to your social media platforms. Or writing newsletters is one of your favorite things to do, but you can’t stand Facebook and Instagram. Decide what kinds of services you are looking for, and what you’re comfortable delegating so that you can determine which agency and what bundle of services is the right fit for you.
- Where are your assets?: Are you creating photos, videos, classes, and other materials in the course of your business? When you involve a team you’re going to need to give them easy access to these materials so they can use them in your marketing plan. Whether it’s a Google Drive, a Dropbox, or some other system, think about organizing your materials so you can easily share them.
How to Hire a Marketing Agency
Now that you’ve decided it’s time to hire someone, what’s next? It’s time to identify who you might work with and start conversations about how you might work together.
To identify potential partners, you have several options. First, ask your network! Other crafty entrepreneurs, trade associations, and any other business groups you’re a part of can provide you with plenty of contacts to query about how they handle their marketing services and who they work with. Those queries also give you a chance to get an honest assessment from one of your peers about how they like (or don’t like) working with their partners. Second, attend industry events! Shows like h+h americas provide opportunities to get to know more people in your industry, take classes, or listen to panels involving industry experts, and see what your competitors are doing. If you can’t afford to attend in person, try attending virtually. Third, check out your local business development council and see what resources they may have available. They may be able to facilitate introductions to someone in your area who does exactly what you need!
Once you’ve identified a potential candidate it’s time to set up an initial meeting. Here at Stitchcraft Marketing we normally start our process with an introductory meeting to learn a little more about the business and share the potential services we could offer. In this meeting clients have the opportunity to ask us any questions they may have about what we do and how we could work together.
If the client wants to move forward with us, we then move into our strategic analysis. We do a deep dive into a client’s current marketing efforts, evaluating everything from their website and social media channels, to newsletters, videos, and more. When we’re done with our extensive research and analysis, we present our findings to the client along with recommendations on what services we feel would move the needle the most in the direction the client wants.
As part of the strategic analysis process we identify some SMART goals. SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Hiring an agency to increase your sales traffic is great, but hiring an agency to increase your sales traffic 10% within 6 months is a much more specific way to measure the success of your marketing efforts. Sharing these SMART goals at the beginning of our process ensures that we’re all working towards the same results, and allows us to better target our efforts.
Before we start working with any client we develop clear communication channels, clearly defining who is responsible for which pieces of the process. This includes identifying an agency account manager who interacts with the client on a day-to-day basis as well as identifying who from your crafty business will be responsible for communicating with that manager. Working together is easy when communications are clear and everyone knows who’s doing what; it falls apart quickly if we don’t establish those channels early.
We approach every client account as a long-term relationship. It does take time to build a good working relationship, and social media strategy and execution doesn’t produce results overnight. It generally takes Stitchcraft Marketing two to three months with any new client to hit our stride and see increased traffic and sales from consistent marketing efforts. There will be a few bumps in the road as we learn how to work with one another, and sometimes marketing involves a bit of experimentation to see what resonates best with your customers. We prefer that clients commit to at least six months to really see the full effects of our efforts.
We hope we’ve provided you with some good information on when and how you might want to hire a marketing agency for your crafty business. Are you ready to hire in 2023? Stitchcraft Marketing is a marketing agency of crafting experts. We customize every program to showcase your brand, engage your customer base, and generate sales in a way that is nothing less than magical. If you’d like to work with us, contact us today to get started!