As the first person hired by a small business to be responsible for creating, implementing, managing and measuring marketing activities — a one-person marketing department — I need to find ways to get a lot done with minimal resources. I also need people to bounce ideas off, and strategize with, and do it with a modest budget.
The easiest way might be to hire a full-service marketing agency, so that I could focus on strategy, planning and management. If you have the budget, that’s certainly a reasonable choice. Plus, an agency is likely to have expertise in more tactical areas than a single person. However, my company did not have great experiences with the agencies they tried to work with in the past. Nor do we have many dollars budgeted.
On top of that, the company has been growing and changing and trying to figure out what services or offerings we want to promote. We are creating a value proposition and positioning that we can build a brand around. At the same time, I can’t wait for all that to be finalized; I need to start implementing and generating leads.
So what did I do?
- Leverage (I love using that word) the LinkedIn company page. I built it out fairly easily, got all the employees to follow the company, added product pages, and I post updates every week or so. We doubled the number of followers in the last 9 months, and create at least 200 impressions per week with each update that is posted. Employees are posting their own updates now, too!
- Find an online marketing tool that is low cost, easy to use and satisfies multiple needs. A marketer I networked with recommended Constant Contact. I now use it to manage prospect lists, create newsletters, build custom emails, create customer satisfaction surveys – and get real-time reporting. In the past 6 months, I published 5 client newsletters, 3 employee versions, created 10 custom email campaigns, increased our contact/distribution list to 750 contacts from a start of only 150 a few months ago. At a cost of under $40 per month.
- Utilize the expertise of people in your company – even if they are not in marketing roles. For client newsletters, I brainstorm with our practice leaders for article topics, then ask the experts to draft the articles. I edit, layout and publish. As a technology consulting company, we also have very gifted tech-savvy people – the office manager knows some html and helped with layouts, another updates the company website for me. Ask around, you might be surprised how much can be done internally by the talented folks you work with.
- Hire freelance copywriters, art directors, photographers, web and graphic designers with experience in your industry, who have multiple skills, and are recommended by people you trust. Freelancers often have lower hourly rates than a large agency, and can be flexible and responsive. You have to find the right matches so it might take some interviewing and reviewing portfolios. For the ones I select to work with, I set up a fixed number of hours for each per month and manage to that with a list of projects. We make changes and re-prioritize as needed (which is often).
- Do hire agencies for specific projects that you do not have the time or expertise to execute on your own. My company is an IBM Premier Partner, so I have access to co-marketing funds and (sort-of) ready-to-execute campaigns. I found an agency that built a 6-month email nurture campaign, with a prepared menu of email content along with 3,000 leads selected using our prospect criteria. The agency created a branded microsite for us that leveraged content available from IBM. Leads flow through the microsite and they’re scored automatically and emailed to the sales force for followup. Everything is managed for me and I can focus on making strategic decisions, selecting the content, and tracking and managing leads.
- Take advantage of other resources like the AMA. When I’m undertaking a new effort, such as selecting a new logo or color palette, figuring out what to consider in rebuilding our website, or find best practices for email subject lines, I research the AMA online library (the new website is even easier to browse) and other sources. I also talk to people in the business and ask advice — they are always happy to give it.
There’s a wealth of information available – and as they say, information is power – or is it knowledge? Either way, it’s given me the power to run a successful one-person marketing department.