Growing and promoting a small business can be as challenging as it can be rewarding. Whether you are an owner of a small company, self-employed, or are looking to push your startup forward, digital marketing within tight budgets and high competition isn’t a simple task, or is it?
The truth is, getting your name out there is always difficult. However the key point here is “always”. Where there is a demand, there will be an offer, so there will always be some competition. Your competition will change as you grow and the difficulty level will rise alongside your company size and revenue as you encounter bigger and bigger players in your niche. But don’t be daunted by this statement. The most important takeaway here is to put the “challenging” aspect aside (since it will always be there anyway) and focus on what you can achieve instead.
Can You Run Your Small Business Marketing Yourself?Depending on your knowledge and experience there are 2 straightforward ways to start with your digital marketing (considering you already have a website): DIY and hiring a third party consultant(s). If you have experience or some free time, of course, you can start doing your marketing yourself. But if you had all that, you probably would be reading this article. There are plenty of resources on the internet that can help you with it, and we aim to publish some tips to guide you through the process as well. However, doing your own marketing (unless you already have a strong digital marketing background) can be way more challenging than one would hope:
What to Expect from Digital Marketing for Small Businesses?
Let’s put the budget aside for now, and we will come back to the pricing options later on. Before you start shopping for small business marketing services, you should have a rough idea of what to expect from the activities you are looking for in terms of general business results. At this point, you should be looking at your business plan or create a draft of one that will help you outline your operation for the next 6, 12, 24 months (if you have one for 10 years that’s great too).
If you are on a positive trend already (getting more sales or customers over at least last 6 months), then it would be most beneficial to create as set of 2 or 3 projections that will help you adjust to your business growth:
Then you would want to turn those numbers into potential operations to see how many more employees or supplies you would need to accommodate the growth. These numbers would give you a rough idea of the internal goals you would want to aim for and adjust (increase or decrease) them accordingly. The reason to do so is to simply understand your own limitations before you deep dive into lead acquisition.
If you can accommodate any growth or if you are unaware of your full potential, a decent marketing provider would help you with these calculations as a part of their strategy so that you can plan your operation accordingly.
How to Find a Small Business Marketing Provider?When you know approximately what you want as your business goals it is time to start looking for your marketing provider. There are plenty of ways to find a digital marketing service:
Create a list of all options you are interested in, and start reaching out. There is no better way to understand if a provider is a good fit for you than talking to them directly.
Things to Know When Choosing a Digital Marketing Service
There are many options to choose from: small companies, big companies, independent consultants, freelancers, as well as freelancers working through dedicated websites. All of them have some pros and cons to work with.
Large Digital Marketing Companies
Large digital marketing companies are generally more stable in terms of deliverables due to higher numbers of employees. On the other hand, they are often not very flexible with those deliverables and additional tasks. Meaning that you will most likely get exactly what they said you would, no more, no less, not later, and not earlier. They also aim to protect their reputation and provide a similar quality across the board for all their campaigns. But they are unlikely to give any additional time or discounts. Additionally, many big companies have higher “minimum retainers” so that not all small businesses can afford their services, while they might pay more attention to bigger clients and could overlook smaller companies unless they have dedicated departments for small businesses.
Small-Medium Size Marketing Companies and Independent Consultants
Smaller companies and experienced digital marketing consultants are more likely to be more flexible when it comes to prices and extra attention to your campaign. They understand your challenges and, generally, value smaller clients more than large marketing agencies due to an overall smaller pool of clients, making every project more important. The downside of smaller companies is variability of quality. Therefore, pay attention to their proposals when considering hiring them so that all potential goals and expectations sound clear and look realistic.
Freelancers and Working through Freelance Websites
This is the most simple option to go for yet is a bit of a grey area. Working through a third party can be limiting as you are unlikely to have close enough communication with your provider. All tasks will have to go through the platform so urgent matters might have some time to be completed, which isn’t optimal. On the other hand, if you want just a few small irregular tasks, this option might be the cheapest. Additionally, there are little to no time obligations, so that you can receive one simple task without signing on a retainer, but this means that you should know exactly what you are looking for, as the online marketing strategy will be in your hands.
Digital Marketing Prices for Small Businesses
Prices for digital marketing services may vary dramatically depending on a provider and their service. Most small businesses, however, are limited with their budgets making it a bit harder to shop for third party services. This being said, it is very important to understand how digital marketing prices are formed since in many cases the costs will directly affect the quality. It doesn’t mean that more expensive is always better, but low prices can translate into poor quality.
One thing to keep in mind when coming up with your budget is that marketing is a service based industry, meaning that the prices are formed based on the labor cost alongside tools they use and additional margins to stay profitable. As simple as it is when outlined, many small business owners look at marketing as a product rather than a service and are searching for the lowest cost on the market.
Generally, digital marketing companies and consultants form their prices on an hourly basis. So just keep that in mind, when looking for the lowest cost possible. You can even calculate what your hourly salary is, add taxes, fees for tools and software they use, rent, and all other standard business costs, and then you would have a rough outline of the lower hourly fee you will be looking at. This way of looking at costs will give you a better understanding of who you are dealing with and what you can expect.
Let’s give an example. In the past we had enquiries for a monthly retainer of £100 per month for SEO (but it works the same for any service). In 2019, the average hourly salary in the UK was around £15 and in the US around $19 (without industry specific expenses such as taxes, software etc.). So, a hundred pounds would give you a maximum of 6 hours 40 minutes campaign time, which is less than a day per month. It would be great to be able to maximise your profits working only 11 days in a year, but does it sound realistic? If to translate it from an individual salary to business expenses, the price example above simply can’t work as it would lead to business losses.
So when you are looking for low costs services keep the example above in mind to understand what can be considered cheap. £50 per hour (or £500 monthly retainer) is probably the lowest any quality service can go without making a loss. Anything below that will most likely mean of the following:
Therefore, when planning your marketing budget, focus on the return of your investment rather than an investment itself. Is it better to spend £2,000 per month and return £5,000 (£3,000 profit), or spend £200 (£2,400 in a year) with no return at all? Numbers can look complicated and be pretty scary sometimes, but it’s the bottom line that matters.
The most important takeaway here is to look for a service that is the most trustworthy and is most likely to bring you results that you are looking for. When choosing a digital marketing provider, ask questions and listen attentively to what they have to offer so that you know that you will be on the same page from the start without overpromising and/or under delivering.
Here at Lemon Pulse we believe in a completely tailored and transparent approach to your marketing efforts. Reach out to us for a free initial consultation, and we will do our best to offer you the best strategy for your specific small business needs.