October 05, 2018

What’s behind door #3?

Throughout my 25 years in marketing, business owners have asked me countless times how to best grow and scale their businesses.

As a business owner myself, I understand just how much risk one takes starting and running a company. But whether you own a start-up or an established, mid-sized business, smart marketing is one of the best investments you can make.

What constitutes “smart” marketing?

The right marketing strategy will increase your brand awareness, amplify your message to your audiences, position you and your company as a thought leader in your industry, and increase traffic to your website. And there’s no time to waste, as Business Insider reports:

  • 99.7 percent of all businesses in the U.S. are small businesses.
  • 50 percent of small businesses fail by their fifth year.
  • 82 percent of small businesses fail within the first two years because of cash flow.

Because cash flow is the largest roadblock for many small businesses, this makes your marketing decision even more critical to ensure you’re investing those funds wisely.

If you’re like most business owners, you’ve dabbled with a junior level marketing hire that didn’t work out as well as you’d hoped—or maybe they spent the bulk of their time on internal demands like responding to RFPs and requests from the sales team. Or maybe you’ve hired an ad agency for help with an email campaign or a new product launch. And maybe that experience left you feeling like you spent a lot of money for little return.

I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with many business owners, and I’ve heard a lot of confusion about how to make a wise marketing investment. I’ve also heard many complaints about bad experiences with the current options:

Behind door #1: The traditional ad agency

Sometimes the traditional ad agency model is exactly what a business needs. Agencies come in all shapes and sizes, and many of them position themselves to be full-service; however, all those creatives in one location can come with a price tag too big for most small and mid-sized businesses.

And the larger the agency, the larger those fees—and the smaller the fish you become in their large pond.

In most cases, leading with creative (versus a smart content strategy) leaves business owners with a bunch of marketing “fluff” instead of messaging they can actually use in their business that will resonate with their audiences. I’ve been on the receiving end of that myself.

Behind door #2: An internal marketing team

Often, a business owner will hire an internal FTE with the title of marketing coordinator, manager or director in lieu of the pricey agency. This requires interviewing a wealth of candidates who are likely very good at marketing themselves and selling the business owner on all their capabilities.

In most cases, that business owner soon discovers what they really hired was one skill set—and not all the skill sets they actually need. And because of inexperience, those hires typically come without the ability to think strategically and guide that strategy to truly impact the business. The company will spend a pretty penny covering a salary, benefits and employee costs, especially if the one skill set requires the addition of another skill set, and so on.

Time for a new option?

What’s behind door #3: Outsourcing

For the longest time, businesses were forced to choose between doors #1 and #2. But now, the strong hybrid model of outsourcing has provided a third option for businesses. Whether you need a more robust accounting, human resources, marketing or IT department, outsourcing allows your company an affordable way to gain senior-level experience while amortizing costs and reducing risk.

With outsourcing, you gain an entire team of senior talent who entrench themselves in your business, guiding you on the right marketing plan and ensuring your messaging is consistent and on-brand.

The Crux model is based on the premise that we’re the “un-agency” – an in-house marketing team, outsourced – thereby providing our clients with an experienced CMO to build the marketing strategy and oversee the work product, along with an experienced team to execute the work product. You get a chief marketing officer plus a team for less than the cost of hiring a marketing manager!

Outsourcing provides you with a practical way to get a whole team of experts with years of experience at a fraction of the price. Because when you’re growing your business, you don’t have time to play games (and spend precious time and money) with the surprises behind the first two doors. It’s time to open door number three.

Melea McRae is proud to be involved in the Kansas City marketing community, building Kansas City’s first “un-agency.” Interested in unlocking door number three? Connect with Melea on LinkedIn or share your thoughts on Facebook or on Twitter @FindYourCrux.

About the author: Melea McRae is a marketing strategist with 25+ years of B2B and B2C experience leading client-facing marketing departments, where she earned the reputation as an insightful brand strategist. As SVP and CMO at the Greater KC Chamber of Commerce, she led the organization’s marketing and business development efforts. In July 2016, Melea launched Crux KC, providing an in-house marketing team, outsourced – the “un-agency” – for her small-to-mid-sized clients. As founder and CEO, she builds marketing, communication and business development strategies for her clients, while positioning them for sustainable growth.

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