Are you thinking of hiring a software marketing firm to help market your software or services? This article will give you some suggestions for when to hire a marketing agency, when to do it yourself, and whether to consider full-service or point solutions.
Regardless of your situation, there are four things that you must have in place before outsourcing your marketing: goals, user persona, USP, and role expectations.
If you're going with a full-service agency, then they will want to work with you to refine these items. But at the end of the day you must be the ultimate decision-maker, so you need to go into the conversation with a first draft.
Ask yourself these questions:
Before starting any marketing campaign, it is important to be clear on why you are doing a marketing campaign now, and what your goals are for it. Perhaps you are launching a new product? Need to target a slightly different audience? Or maybe sales are not what you had hoped and you need to improve them.
There are many different reasons for doing a marketing campaign, and the software marketing firm will take a different approach depending on your goals and business needs.
Also, remember that your audience is not only prospective customers. You may also want to market to other audience segments, such as:
For each audience segment, you need to define a clear, specific call-to-action (CTA). And be selective - you don't need to market to all potential audiences. Think about your goals, and then choose those audience segments that can help you get there most effectively.
What is the most detailed description you can provide of the type of person who will buy or use your software or service?
Be as specific as you can in your description: it is better to keep your niche narrow and focused, than to try to appeal to every possible user.
Focus on prospective users who are:
* the most profitable (highest customer lifetime value),
* those who will get the most unique value from your offering.
Your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is what sets you apart from other possible solutions to the user's need. You should be able to articulate something that is unique to you, your company, or your product. This is one of the reasons to focus your niche - define it so that you can describe a unique value.
Don't worry about wordsmithing your USP right now - the software marketing firm can help with that. What is important is that you fully understand and can describe what your unique value is.
How much involvement in the marketing effort can you commit to? What control do you want to have over the process? Which decisions do you need to be involved in? What pieces of the campaign will you or someone else on your team own?
Also, be ready to discuss clear roles, expectations, and deliverables with the software marketing firm.
These are just some of the questions you should ask yourself before selecting a marketing agency:
There is a big difference between B2B and B2C marketing - make sure your agency has the right background for your target audience.
Do you sell to a specific vertical industry? Each industry has different terminology, ways of doing business, expectations, etc. Make sure your chosen provider has experience in your industry.
Marketing is a broad field. Not all marketers have the same expertise. You may find you have to hire different marketing outsourcers to cover different aspects of your marketing needs. You could also hire a full-service agency that will provide you with a team that covers all your requirements - but be aware that you will pay top money for that.
Be clear on where you need help, and look for a firm with that specialty. The areas you might want to cover include:
What will be the impact on your sales outcomes (or other business metric)?
Will you want to measure conversion rates for marketing assets, email campaigns, etc?
How important are online metrics, such as website traffic, social following, etc?
Does the software marketing firm have metrics and ROI built into their process?
What's the final takeaway? It can be a good idea to hire a software marketing firm, but make sure you're clear on your goals and exactly what you need from them.
Hire a specialist if you just need help with one thing (eg, copywriting or creating a brochure), or hire a full-service agency if you need them to plan a strategic marketing campaign to grow your business.
At Software Marketing Advisor, we also offer marketing services, specializing in marketing strategy, process and planning. You can check out our services here or contact us with specific questions. If you just need a little mentoring through the marketing process, then you can also sign up for a pay-as-you-go coaching session here.