It wasn’t too long ago that a small local business could use traditional marketing practices like word-of-mouth referrals, road signs, or mailers to attract dozens of new customers from within their community and be entirely fine. However, in today’s world that is no longer the case. Even on the local level, marketing has gone digital. If someone wants a roofer, a dentist, or an HVAC specialist, the first thing they do is search on Google to find local providers in their area. If a family member, friend or neighbor recommends a business, they’re going to go online to read their reviews before calling. If you don’t have a strong online presence, you are missing out on local business you didn’t even know existed. (Or, more accurately, you’re missing out on business because people in your community don’t know you exist).
However, running successful local digital marketing requires a certain finesse and strategy, which can make things difficult for small business owners. You are already wearing a hundred hats to keep normal operations running. As such, finding time to plan and enact a marketing strategy usually falls near the bottom of your daily to-do list.
Finding the Right Partner to Help Your Business Scale
In response to this dilemma, many small businesses take one of two paths when it comes to managing their digital marketing strategy. Either they create an in-house marketing team, or they hire an agency to do everything for them.
To determine which of these approaches makes the most sense for your business, you first need to assess your current standing in your local service area. What have you been doing to promote your business? Are you starting your marketing strategy from scratch? Which actions have been getting results and which ones have not?
Furthermore, you need to establish your marketing goals and available resources. For example:
- What is your marketing budget?
- What type of skills are required?
- Do you have people on your team who can help, or are you handling everything yourself?
- Do you have the necessary tools and resources to implement and sustain your marketing plan?
- Do you already have some forms of marketing in place, or are you starting from scratch?
While this is an important first step, understanding your internal situation is only half of the battle. It is also important to understand the various pros and cons associated with keeping marketing in-house versus hiring an agency to do everything for you.
Pros and Cons of In-house Marketing
A big plus for in-housing is that your team has a deep understanding of your brand, culture, product, and internal processes. You have complete control over your marketing strategy. Using marketing software enables you to dive deep into data and make changes without consulting another team of marketing folks. On the other hand, you are also in charge of making every single decision and implementing every detail – which takes up a lot of time and energy and requires a lot of skill. Moreover, you are also responsible for staying up to date with marketing trends and software. For example, ensuring that your various marketing tools have the proper third-party integrations with your POS system, your CRM software, etc.
Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Your Marketing to an Agency
The sheer amount of work that is involved in running a successful digital marketing strategy is a big reason why many small businesses prefer to outsource their marketing. An agency handles all the details, which can save you a lot of time. They also bring a breadth of expertise to the table and can offer fresh perspectives. On the flip side, you also give up a lot of control over your marketing and have to coordinate regular communication. Agency marketers also serve a lot of different clients meaning their strategies will also be more generalized. The nature of their jobs means they simply don’t have the time to do a deep dive into the specifics of your business, to build and optimize marketing for your local audience.
Something that often gets overlooked in the in-house versus agency debate is the fact that hiring a marketing team at all, whether in-house or outsourced, can be expensive. As such, neither choice might be a good fit for a small business, especially when first starting out.
Fortunately, there is a third, more cost-effective option: working with a local marketing company that provides software and services catered to your needs. In our opinion, this is the best choice, since it combines the best of in-house and agency marketing. You get the software to run things your way, with expert guidance and support to help you along the way, as you need it.
Selecting Your Perfect Local Marketing Partner
So, what should you look for in a local marketing company? To start, you want to work with a company that:
- Let’s you keep control of your brand assets and online presence. Take your website, for example. Often agencies will create a website domain for your business which they can more effectively optimize for SEO. However, since they own the domain and since it’s run on a platform only they know how to use, it (and all the associated content they created) stays with them if you part ways. Instead, you want a partnership that puts you in control of your online marketing assets. For example, if you choose to leave, your website is yours to take.
- Completes all work using YOUR platform. Large digital marketing agencies often use their own special tools to oversee multiple accounts at the same time. As such, they often balk at providing raw, unfiltered access to your data to protect client privacy. However, this means you have no real way of knowing what is happening behind the scenes. By having a local marketing company perform everything on the same platform you use, you have a degree of visibility unmatched by anything an agency can or will provide otherwise.
- Guarantees transparency. You want to make sure that your marketing partner follows best practices, completes your requests promptly, and never leaves you in the dark with regards to what your marketing dollars are bringing you back in return. With access to this information at your fingertips, you’re not left second-guessing your marketing investments. Moreover, with your entire online presence plugged into your platform, you will be able to see the ROI of your activities whenever you want, and no longer be dependent on someone else to send you a complex report via email or wait till next week when you have your scheduled monthly check-in.
- Provides strategy and planning services. When selecting a local marketing partner, you want someone who can provide a dedicated digital marketing strategist who becomes a part of your team. They should be available to meet with you regularly to discuss your strategy, performance, and bounce new ideas off. By combining their marketing expertise with your insider knowledge of your business and the local community you serve, you can capitalize on local connections that can help your brand get more attention and attract more qualified leads.
- Let’s you grow the business at your own pace. When choosing a marketing partner, you want to be able to pick and choose the local marketing software and services you actually need. Not be tied to a general marketing package filled with features that might not apply to your situation. This more flexible approach keeps you in the driver’s seat. You can get the guidance you need when you need it and add on new services as your business grows, without being beholden to someone else’s timeline.
Surefire Local: We’re Here to Help
Discover what it is like to run your marketing on the industry’s most powerful platform and get the guidance and support you need when you need it. Surefire Local’s AI-powered marketing software is carefully designed around the needs of small and medium-sized businesses. For example, it easily integrates with crucial sales and marketing tools, including Google My Business, Yext, Quickbooks Online, and Salesforce. Our goal is that you are able to manage your entire online presence and marketing strategy from a single place, including:
- Lead Management
- Business Listings Management
- Reputation Management
- Website SEO
- Paid Advertising
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Competitor Analysis
- Customer Communications
Unlike working with an agency, you are never left guessing what your marketing is getting you in return. You never have to rely on an outside party to keep you informed whenever they think is best. When you partner with Surefire Local, you maintain complete control and have visibility into all the work being done both by you and on your behalf.
But we provide more than just a flexible marketing platform. You can also take advantage of additional services, such as having a dedicated digital marketing specialist who can help you with more complex marketing tasks like competitive analysis, strategy development, and performance optimization. The result is you attract more customers, grow profits, and maximize efficiency!
If you are ready to have the best of both worlds you’ve come to the right place! Sign up for a free demo and learn how Surefire Local can help you take your online marketing to the next level.