Biz Tips: Does my Startup Need a Marketing or PR Agency?

Biz Tips: Does my Startup Need a Marketing or PR Agency?

GROWTH:

Does my Startup Need a Marketing or PR Agency?

How to tell whether to hire an agency or wait for more growth.

Startups with a validated MVP and funding often wonder what the next step is. How do I get my product or service in front of more of my target market? While there are still more steps to take to build out the MVP and expand functionality, many startups at this point are ready to start a marketing and/or public relations campaign.

It might not be a full-blown marketing and PR campaign, but at this point, it is time to think about the online world. Startups can split needs into categories:

  • Content marketing (blogs, optimized website, sales materials, etc.)
  • Social media marketing (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Public relations (media stories, bylines, etc.)

The product will dictate whether or not a startup needs each of these, though most need all at some point. And, more importantly, the team structure will decide whether or not hiring needs to happen. Let’s take a look at each of these three to determine whether or not an outside hire is necessary.

Do I need to hire an agency for my content marketing?

Content marketing encompasses many things, but to keep things simple, we can focus on website content, blog content, and sales content. Other items include long-form/evergreen content and email marketing, but companies just starting out can wait on this.

While basic website copy is fine in the beginning, the copy needs to be revised and optimized when launching a product to a wider audience. The biggest reason for this? Search engines need to be able to find the website. Website copy is important because it should accurately and succinctly describe the product, as well as the benefits to the target market. When this doesn’t happen, bounce rates rise, and no real leads come in.

Blog content helps with this process by providing search engines with fresh, optimized text to catalog. Blogs should focus on the target market’s pain points and opportunities, which helps bring them to the website to find the solution aka the product. Plus, 60% of consumers feel more positive about a brand after consuming content from it.

Sales materials help bring prospects from the top of the sales funnel to the bottom. In an ideal world, marketing and sales teams work together to produce these materials and measure how they convert along the sales funnel.

Can I handle content marketing internally?

There are a few questions to ask to determine whether or not the existing team can handle content marketing.

  1. Does someone on the team have a marketing background and experience running successful campaigns? 14% of startups that failed cited “bad marketing” as the reason. Content marketing takes skills that not everyone possesses, so if there are only technical people on the team with no marketers, hiring is necessary.
  2. Does my sales team have content capabilities? Can the sales team create content pieces that help nurture leads? This is especially important for B2B startups who have a long sales funnel process and need content for various touch points.
  3. Does anyone have copywriting experience? While writing website copy seems easy, it’s not. Poor copy means poor UX, and 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout are unattractive.
  4. If there is already someone running a content marketing campaign, can they produce an ROI?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it’s time to look for outside help.

Do I need to hire an agency for my social media marketing?

There are so many social media marketing statistics that prove its worth. Social media is an excellent top of the funnel tactic that brings marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to the website for nurturing.

“The biggest mistakes we see startups make is hiring an intern to handle the entire social media strategy and campaign.”

A social media campaign does not mean throwing up anything on Facebook and Twitter. While an intern is a great asset in helping to create content, a more experienced team member is needed to create the strategy.

Social media networks change their rules and algorithms constantly, and a professional marketer understands how to get the right content seen by the right audience at the right time. This person can make data-driven decisions on which networks to post on, use analytics to determine posting times, and use buyer personas to post the right type of content confidently.

Can I handle social media marketing internally?

There are a few questions to ask to determine whether or not the existing team can handle social media marketing.

  1. Is there someone on the team that has strategized a social media campaign before? Trial and error are key for social media, so someone with experience running networks outside of their own personal social networks is crucial.
  2. Is there someone on the team that can dedicate a considerable amount of time to building up networks (gaining followers, responding to social messages, etc.)?
  3. If there is already someone running a social media marketing campaign, can they produce an ROI?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it’s time to look for outside help.

Do I need to hire an agency for my public relations campaign?

According to Cision, audiences view earned media as the most authentic form of marketing. People trust what they read in media outlets, which is why many startups want to launch a PR campaign. PR campaigns can be used for lead generation, but they are mostly used for branding and building the company’s online reputation.

The problem is that journalists are incredibly picky (rightfully so), and PR people need to build relationships and take the right approach with individual reporters. A huge mistake startups make is sending mass emails to reporters. That tactic results in no coverage and angered journalists.

Can I handle a public relations campaign internally?

There are a few questions to ask to determine whether or not the existing team can handle a public relations campaign.

  1. Does someone on the team have PR experience / built up relationships with reporters? Or does this person have time to build up these relationships?
  2. Does someone on the team have time to learn PR best practices and research individual reporter beats/areas they cover? Also, this person will need perfect grammar and copy experience.
  3. Does someone on the team (ideally a founder) have time to contribute his or her expertise in the form of quotes, bylines, etc.?
  4. If there is already someone running a PR campaign, can they produce an ROI?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then it’s time to look for outside help.

Anyone in Marketing or PR Must Produce an ROI

While calculating an ROI might be difficult, it can, and must, be done. Marketers must have access to all analytics as well as the sales process to understand how their efforts are working. Without a clear picture of what works and what doesn’t, marketing campaigns fall apart.

Should I Hire In-house or Look for an Agency?

Startups ready to tackle marketing and PR are left with the choice of hiring someone in-house or hiring an agency. To decide between these options, it’s important to look at needs. No one single person can handle all content, social media, and PR needs, but an in-house team could. So if the startup is ready to hire a team of four or five marketers, then in-house hiring might be a better fit.

Hiring full-time team members is difficult and costly, which is why many startups and SMEs alike opt to hire an agency. An agency offers a team of minds ready to handle all marketing and PR needs with experts in each field often at a lower price.

Whichever option, it’s important to find an appropriate team. 23% of startups said a team issue (lack of experienced team members, lack of problem-solving skills, etc.) was the reason for their failure.

For startups ready to dive into marketing and PR, contact us to see if Launchway Media is a fit.

Originally published at www.launchwaymedia.com.

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