That old adage, “Jack of all trades, master of none” applies to almost every small-business owner I know. To save costs, you manage things in-house. But, what this actually translates into is:
I’ll do it when I get around to it.
Not surprisingly, tasks get put off for far too long. Now I’m all for do-it-yourself, especially the first time round. It takes a little longer yes, but it helps you to learn what it actually takes to perform each task. Spending the time to understand what makes a good website or how to write good copy makes you a better all-rounder, but ask yourself how is this bringing you closer to achieving your business objectives?
If you’re anything like me, your to-do list is a mile and a half long, and filled with things that absolutely-must-be-done today, to others that have a habit of being continually de-prioritized. This makes sense, but there are particular items that have been pending for over a month as I’ve given in to do more business-critical tasks.
But by focusing on the core services of my business, I found I was quickly trapped in a cycle. Delivering good work drives more customers, as you get referrals and more leads come in, which means more profits and even less time to tick off all of these pending tasks.
Now this is where bringing in a digital agency just makes sense.
Hire someone to clear out your to do list, so you can focus on the core of whatever-the-heck-it-is you do. Right now you’ve got a few choices. You could bring on a full-time staff member, which translates into another set of obligations like salary overheads, health insurance benefits, taxes and leave entitlements, or you could hire a digital agency.
Here’s why a trusted agency should be your first choice.
THEY’RE THE EXPERTS
When you’re hiring an agency to complete a specific task, you can focus on hiring an expert, with a wealth of experience in that particular niche. OK, you’ve probably done a decent job building up your social media following with regular posts, but consider the effect an expert will have. They already know the best type of content to post, can analyse the specific timings and insights your audience prefers to engage with, and are comfortable using the tools and systems to keep your accounts active, all the time.
Plus you can specialize. Get one digital agency reviewing your sales copy, another designing your new brochures, and a third putting together a new website with a mobile-response e-commerce store. You’d struggle finding a full-time candidate who can successfully do all three, but it’s simple to hire three different agencies to handle all of these tasks for you.
A DIGITAL AGENCY WILL GET IT DONE
Time is money. Everything you do has an opportunity cost, and you need to focus your time on what has the biggest bottom line impact for your business. Now look at your list of to-do items. Sure, you can probably figure out how to design a logo for your company, but first you need to learn the basics of Adobe Illustrator, read up on what makes a good logo, discover what emotions the colours you choose are going to inspire, and after spending weeks on it, it’s probably not going to look anywhere near as good as what a professional designer can produce in a day. Is it worth it?
Think about what you could have spent your time on instead. Perhaps a few more cold-calls could have landed you a new piece of business, attending that networking event could have led to a cross-promotional gig with another small-business owner, or more time spent getting your back-end processes in order would mean you’re not out-of-stock on your best-selling item. Don’t be afraid to spend your money on quality work, so you aren’t wasting your most precious commodity of all, time.
DIGITAL AGENCIES ARE AFFORDABLE
You can find an agency to fit every budget. Of course, you probably can’t hire the same advertising firm as Coca Cola for your next product launch without bankrupting your small business, but you’ve got plenty of options. Smaller firms are more flexible and can tailor packages to suit your specific needs, and if they’re a specialist in your industry they can often deliver better results than the big agencies. If you’ve really got no budget, you may even be able to work out a sponsorship deal or a trade for services, but this comes down to your ability to negotiate.
YOU’RE NOT ADDING ‘FULL TIME’ RESPONSIBILITY
My favourite part about hiring a digital agency for a specific task is that you only pay for what you need. Forget having to manage staff, benefits and overheads. When you hire a digita agency you’re paying them to complete a particular task. Once it’s done, so are your obligations, and you’re not scrounging looking for tasks to keep your new employee busy. Plus, most agencies have worked with hundreds of clients in their time, clients just like you, which means they’ll get stuck into the work far faster than a new hire.
DIGITAL AGENCIES ARE FOCUSED ON DELIVERING
When it comes to hiring an agency, focus on outsourcing tasks which have a clear deliverable, or are easily measurable. Copywriters can generate great content for your sales pages, while designers are excellent at developing awesome promotional material for a new campaign. Good developers can build a website to almost any specification, and you can even have your social media accounts managed by a marketing expert.
As the amount of work you’re outsourcing grows, you’ll eventually reach a tipping point where it makes sense to hire someone internally. Until then, outsource like crazy. Just be sure never to offshore your core services. They’re the reason you’re in business in the first place, and you need to ensure you always over-deliver so you build a roster of happy clients, who continue to send new customers your way.
Take your time when you’re looking for a digital agency, and make sure you understand their timelines, intended action plans, and the results they’ve had in the past before you even think about going ahead with their services. It can take time to find the right one, but once you do, your business will sky-rocket.
How many of you have hired a digital agency before?
What went well, and what would you recommend other entrepreneurs to watch out for?