Marketing is nothing new; it's inherent in business. Some of it involves shouting from the rooftops, some of it promulgates through whispers, and the modern majority of it comes tailored to you via the internet.
If you have a product, you're going to have to market it one way or another — it's inevitable. But when do you devote serious time to it? And how? When is the time right? Do you tackle it solo? At what point does handling marketing internally become financially foolish? When do we need to bring on help to market? Where/how can we find professional marketing help? What kind of personal stars need to align in order to make this thing called marketing successful?
We think through these questions with business big and small all the time. Here's how we approach it:
Let’s start at the beginning: you’re a company that needs to get the word out about a product you are super excited to feature this year. Working backward (yes, working, not walking) is something we've found to be effective in defining some key numbers about the potential ROI from your marketing. Thinking analytically can help you determine the appropriate budget for your goals and also show whether or not those goals are realistic.
Let's think backward together:
1. S.M.A.R.T. Goals - You want to achieve “X” number of sales generating “X” revenue by finding "X" amount of leads through reaching “X” number of people via email lists, socials, etc. Be as Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound as possible.
2. Timing - How long will this take? Figure out the rate at which your previous product revenue grew according to your target metrics or KPIs and use that data to estimate how long it will take to achieve those “Xs.” If this is your first product release or part of a new line you can do some educated guessing and market research based on past business iniatives and general market/trend research.
3. Product Release Date - Let's say you've identified your goals and want to realize them within six months. Will you hit that with your current growth rate? What can you do to change that? Do you have more hours and/or money you can devote to marketing? Are you confident you are executing the best marketing you can? Answers to these questions can help you determine whether or not to hire a marketing agency.
4. Establish Your Marketing Plan: This is where you lay down specific marketing strategies, so anything from a wide array of marketing assets, release schedules, cross-team cooperation ideas, PR, marketing funnel creation ideas, additional target demographic research, circular viralocity systems, make sure analytical processes are in place, budget — the works. It's a lot, but having a detailed plan on the front end makes all the difference.
Sidenote: A positive indicator for a good marketing company is if they take time to brainstorm and complete a marketing plan founded in analytics with you side by side before making revenue promises.
Once you have figured out your plan to reach your goals, it’s now time to buckle down, budget hours, and see if this something you can tackle them internally or if help is necessary.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself along the way:
Who else is on your team already? What are their skills and how do they fit in to your plan?
Do you know your target market?
What are your 6 month, 12 month, and 5 year goals? (verbally and numerically)
What happens if you don’t meet those goals?
What is your primary method for contacting/advertising to your potential customers? How often do you do so?
Do you have a budget in place to hire on more people to your team? (i.e. marketing, PR, etc) If yes, how much per month/year? Does the potential ROI outweigh the upfront costs?
If most of these questions are difficult for you to answer, don’t panic!
That might just mean you need to spend some one on one quality time with your business to dig deep into these pre-marketing questions. It’s important to know your business inside and out; where you’ve been, where you want to go with it, and the time and finances it will take to get you there.
"It’s important to know your business inside and out; where you’ve been, where you want to go with it, and the time and finances it will take to get you there."
Let’s say you could answer most of these questions in depthly like it was the back of your hand. You’re willing to put your full attention into this business, you have the finances saved up to help to get you there, and you have some pretty detailed and defined goals set in place. It’s looking like you’re about ready to take the next steps towards your goals — whether you do or don't need additional marketing help.