When it comes to outsourced monthly marketing you have many options to choose from and it can feel overwhelming. Marketing may be getting pushed down your priority list because you have no idea where to begin or how to keep consistent content going out that is right for your firm and your ideal clients.
Price is something to consider when weighing up your options, but it isn’t the only factor. You will also be asking yourself some of these questions (and if you aren’t, you need to be):
- What value will I get out of the service?
- Will the investment help me, my firm, my team and my clients?
- Will I see a return on my investment?
- How will I know if my marketing is actually working?
- Would it be cheaper to just hire an in-house marketing person?
These are all good questions – but when looking at all the options are you really comparing apples to apples?
How do I know if an outsourced marketing company is worth it?
You may have been burned by other marketing agencies in the past. Maybe you felt they made empty promises and you haven’t seen results. It’s difficult to get past bad experiences and trust it won’t happen again.
When talking with different agencies, don’t be afraid to voice your concerns and explain what hasn’t worked in the past. The right place for you will take into consideration your fears and your past experiences and won’t dismiss them. They will collaborate with you and work to build a relationship with you based on trust and mutual respect.
You want an agency who seeks to understand your firm at its core, and will work with you to bring out the best of who you are, and communicate that value to your ideal clients. They ask the right questions and bring out things you wouldn’t expect. Marketing won’t be done in the most effective way unless you work on the foundations of your brand and build from these. Sure there are surface level fixes out there but they won’t stand the test of time. Like a building, If your marketing isn’t built on a strong foundation eventually cracks will appear and it will start to crumble.
This is why PF follows the Marketing Map. Here’s how it works:
- Accelerator gives you the education pieces to recognise what you can implement in your marketing
- Foundations allows you to dive deep into your goals as an individual and a firm, as well as your brand (where it is now vs where it could be), your website (how it’s functioning now vs how it can work best for you), and a personalised action plan for your firm
- Depending what you uncover in Foundations, you could go on to do a brand or website project or get started with monthly marketing
We know we’re not the cheapest outsourced option out there. Good, effective marketing takes time to get right, and success doesn’t happen overnight. When it comes to a good service of any kind, you can only ever have 2 of these 3 at a time: “good, fast, cheap”.
Your marketing can be good and fast, but it won’t be cheap. Or fast and cheap, but won’t be good. Or good and cheap, but won’t be fast. At PF, we understand accountants and the industries you serve and what makes you so amazing at what you do, and we also take your branding very seriously. Part of how we do that is to get a deep understanding of your brand, your goals and who you are as a firm. Outsourced marketing isn’t something someone can simply “start doing” for you: it needs to reflect who you truly are.
You want to find an agency that truly wants to get to know you and your business. Someone who doesn’t simply churn out a few designed guides or a website page, but builds a relationship with you in which they truly understand you and who you serve. A good marketing agency will also always give you options of what you can do, but will also challenge you and steer you in a direction to help you reach your goals. Sometimes it won’t be the route you initially thought when you started out, but ultimately ends up being the best direction to go in. This will always be with your permission and collaboration: YOU will come to the decision based on what you learn and what you discover marketing to be.
Many firms choose to outsource their marketing so they’ll have a full creative team at their disposal. It’s really hard (actually impossible) for one marketing person to be “all the things” in marketing. To know SEO and blog writing and website design and TikTok and video editing and a thousand other things besides. In PF, we have a full team of client marketing managers, designers, and content writers behind all of the work we do for our clients. The whole team knows how to go about creating a design or content because they know your brand, based on all the foundational work we do to really get to know you in Foundations.
Would hiring an in-house marketing manager be a better option for me?
When comparing costs of outsourcing your marketing, and hiring an in-house person, you might think it’ll end up costing you about the same. However, there are different things to weigh up when it comes to making a decision on who to hire and when.
The average salary for a marketing manager in the UK is about £34,200 according to Pay Scale UK. In the U.S. the salary for a marketing manager typically falls between $95,531 and $129,082 according to Salary.com. You also need to take into consideration pensions, and NI or Social Security and other additional costs that come with hiring a new employee.
Now let’s take cost out of the equation and look at the marketing manager role itself. It’s a great thing to realise the importance of marketing enough to actually hire someone in house. Marketing managers can help organise and strategise to help your firm move in the right direction. They can help run campaigns and implement things you didn’t know were possible. Some benefits of hiring an in-house marketing manager is that they know your firm from the inside, they’re interacting with your team daily and often with clients too. They see what is going on on a regular basis and can incorporate it into your marketing to make it more real and effective. Somebody in-house would also be more available to you if you feel your marketing needs more attention.
A lot of marketing managers will be able to write content for you and get more blogs and other content going out there. However, they will reach a point where they hit a wall and need to outsource some design work or have some extra help with content on a specific project. One person can’t do it all and it’s not realistic to expect them to.
All marketing managers have various skill sets depending on their training and experience. For example a newly qualified graduate isn’t going to have the same skill set of someone with 5+ years of experience. Before I came to PF, I was hired as a marketing coordinator/manager directly after university. I soon realised I needed much more help and direction than I initially thought. I was expected to do all the strategising, content writing, sometimes design work and implementation with minimal experience and supervision. I really struggled to get the marketing to where it needed to be. Another more experienced marketing manager would have maybe had a different experience but for a newbie it was extremely difficult.
Whether you hire an in-house marketing person or opt for an outsourced option, collaboration and communication is so important to really have your marketing live up to its fullest potential and reach your ideal clients in the best possible way. You know your ideal clients better than anyone and whoever is working on your marketing won’t be dealing with them on a regular basis. This is why collaboration is so crucial to get the most out of it.
Since starting at PF I’ve seen a massive difference in the quality of marketing of those clients who are fully engaged and collaborative with us. I love seeing clients come to meetings excited about a new idea they’ve had, that’s really when the gold dust comes out. It makes the whole process of working on the marketing so much more effective and seamless when clients are willing to collaborate and put in the work to get it done in the right way.
PF is like an in-house marketing team because we work to understand our clients’ brands. Your CMM is like your marketing manager with direct access to a design and content team. They don’t have to take the time and do the research into outsourcing those things like an in-house marketing person would. They already know you.
If you go for a cheap outsourced marketing option it can end up being generic
At PF we want to be the best we can be, to fit with our philosophy and way of doing things which we know works for accountants. We are curious about other marketing agencies, but we try not to let them distract us from who we are. Ultimately it’s best to compare ourselves to us, and improve our clients’ experience based on what they tell us, what they need, and things we’ve learned over the years. We recommend our clients do the same. It’s important to not get caught up in the comparison game; instead, focus on your clients and provide them with the best possible value and service.
Let’s explore what could happen if you go for a cheap outsourced option.
You might find some may try to deal with the symptom of an issue you’re having with your marketing, instead of dealing with the core problem. This is why it’s so important to find a firm that understands the value of getting to know you and about the pain points of your ideal clients. Some marketing agencies can be cheap and provide a quick fix but it won’t last. This is because unless they take the time to know more about your business at its core the work won’t be a true reflection of who you are and what you stand for.
Sometimes cheaper marketing agencies have a specific system to carry out services more efficiently, which could lead to them putting you in a box. Without taking time and care needed to know what makes you unique as a firm you may end up having very generic cookie cutter marketing which won’t truly reflect your firm or attract the right people. For example if you decide to work with a freelancer they probably only really have one system for how they deal with their clients because they don’t have the resources to provide more options if it’s just them. At PF we know that everyone is on a unique journey which is why we have the Marketing Map. There’s a process but there are multiple routes you can take and different directions you can go in.
You want your marketing to embody everything you stand for and how you want to show up and help your clients. Without this you’re throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks and you could even be throwing things at the wrong wall entirely. You want an agency who knows the importance of speaking to your ideal client and not someone who is producing content appealing to you as the business owner. Marketing is not for you: it’s for your clients.
You might be really concerned about ROI and in reality it’s all about perspective. Some marketing agencies will primarily focus on lead generation and getting you X amount of clients in a certain time frame. This feels good, and seems effective, but the question is not “are we getting leads?”, but “are these the right kind of leads?” Are they clients who are going to last? Do you love working with them? Do you discover two or three months down the road the client who was initially so amazing has dropped off the face of the earth and never responds and worst of all hasn’t paid you? In lead generation, it’s far more important to come up with quality leads instead of trying to appeal to as many people as possible. If you focus on quantity over quality you will end up working with the wrong type of clients for you and you’ll have more headaches in the long run.
You might think that going for a cheaper outsourced marketing is going to be the best solution for your firm because it’s in your marketing budget. But what exactly are you factoring into your marketing budget? Marketing crosses over into many different parts of your business you wouldn’t expect such as onboarding and hiring. You need to think about marketing as a part of running your business: it’s integrated into everything you do to help your clients. Marketing has the potential to help you build lasting relationships with your clients right from the moment they happen across your website or socials. Make sure you are getting the most out of your money and not just finding the easiest and cheapest solution.
When selecting an outsourced marketing agency pay attention to their values and how they work
You may have come to the conclusion that outsourcing your marketing is the best option for you right now. But how do you decide which one is the best fit for your firm?
Here are 3 things to pay attention to:
If a marketing agency clearly states what their values are on their website this is a starting point about what they stand for and how they will conduct business. If their values don’t align with yours or they just don’t resonate with you, this is a sign you won’t enjoy working with them. For example at PF our values are: show transparency, have an opinion, stay positive, take responsibility, be gracious and collaborate. We clearly state how we integrate these values into our work on a regular basis here.
It’s not enough for them to state them on their website, though. Look at the entire enquiry process. Follow them on the socials. Watch their videos. Listen to the words they say and how they show up in meetings. Are they living these out in the small areas of life? Do you see patterns of these values, or are they merely nice words?
Make sure the marketing agency you select has shown throughout the prospecting process this will be a collaborative effort. The special ingredient to the best marketing possible for your firm is your ideas and experiences you’ve had with your clients. You don’t want to work with an agency that just “ does it all for you”. Good agencies will understand you know your ideal clients best and will ask for your opinions. Consistency is the key. Are regular meetings, opportunities to share ideas and photographs and videos as soon as they come up, part of the process? Or are you meeting every once in a while and doing the most recent thing you thought of that week? When they set up regular meetings and have consistent communication is a sign that it’s a collaborative effort.
The best marketing for our clients comes from being fully collaborative with our clients and hearing their thoughts, opinions, ideas, and questions. This doesn’t mean the responsibility to come up with ideas is all on you: it means what you think about matters. What the team is wondering about matters. The questions your clients ask, matter. We have monthly meetings with our clients to discuss planned actions, thoughts and great ideas – and we will push back if we think something isn’t going to help your ideal client or if it doesn’t reflect them. We’ll always give you the opportunity to think about your client and your brand and what you want it to reflect.
3. Unrealistic goals
Good marketing agencies will know making promises to clients and prospects is a bad idea. Marketing can be unpredictable and it can take a while to get into your groove and see what fits best for your firm. It isn’t realistic to expect hundreds of new leads in the first couple of months. Even if you were to get those leads, 90% of them probably wouldn’t be the type of clients you want to work with anyway. This is why it’s best to focus on producing content to get you more of the clients you actually want. Quality over quantity is always the best approach.
Good, solid marketing takes time and it’s a long game to figure out what methods are going to work best for you. You want a solid foundation to build on so that your branding and marketing will stand the test of time and evolve as things change.
Find an agency that wants to know the real and unique you
You are unique and special and not like other accounting firms. When working with someone on marketing you really want to find someone who wholeheartedly believes this too and works to bring out the best in you and your brand. The best agencies will challenge you to really dig deep and pull out things in your brand you never would have thought of. They won’t just do the marketing for you but work on getting to know the core of you and your brand to reflect this in your content. They will focus on the thoughts and feelings your clients have when they come across your brand instead of focusing on just making it look pretty.
They will encourage you to stay involved and engaged with your marketing. The more understanding and personal involvement you have in your marketing, the better it will be because marketing is a reflection of the work you are doing, and you and the team are the ones who know that better than anyone. This means you will be showing up authentically and be building trust with your ideal clients
Are you unclear about where to go next with your marketing but know you need to make a change? Foundations would be a great option for you! It helps you get clear about where to go with your marketing to reach your goals. Here’s what one of our clients, Max had to say about it:
Getting direction in your marketing can protect you from trying all of the things, possibly even with different outsourcers, and hoping something works out eventually. Reach out if you’d like to chat more on how PF can support you with a plan for your firm’s marketing.