Or so you may think. And I feel for you. With many services going virtual these days, what isn’t outsourced? What hasn’t been turned into a virtual service?
When you are ready to choose a marketing company to help grow your business, you may be faced with this decision. Do I work with a firm who is local or do I work with one of these outsourced virtual marketing teams?
Particularly for first time clients of virtual or outsourced services, this can be a daunting decision. Who are the people working on my account? How can I trust them? How do I interact with them? What if I want to meet them? Will they let me down? What if they disappear?
This article will help to explain why outsourced and virtual marketing companies exist, how you know you are ready to work with one, and how to choose the best to work with.
Here’s my take. First, technology. Second, things are getting complex. Third, eBay.
Simply, we are able to do things via email, phone calls, texts, chats, Tweets, credit cards, and online reviews that we were never able to do before. As a consumer, you’ve probably bought something from Amazon, carried on an important work conversation over email and learned some helpful information from a stranger online.
All these experiences have laid the foundation for you to use and trust technology to get things done in your personal or professional life. You are familiar with and trust the technology as a form of communication.
Yes, marketing is my industry and so you may raise an eyebrow when I go on about how complex things are getting. Don’t we all talk about our own industry as if it is so important? Well, we’re not saving live or doing rocket science, but it is that marketing is getting more complex.
What this means is that with each area of marketing, be it strategy, SEO, social media advertising, content marketing, email marketing, lead generation or analytics as examples, the pace of change is increasing. The skills and time required to keep up on the changes and to understand how to apply them to help a client achieve their goals is too much for one person to be able to do well. Knowing enough to be dangerous, is, well, dangerous.
With that comes the need for specialists. You want the very best working on your SEO. You want the very best writing your content. When I say very best, I mean one who lives, breathes, gets excited by and delivers great work in that area.
Yes, founded in 1995, you may wonder why I’m referencing this company. The apprehension to buy something online from someone you didn’t know was a huge fear. Until a few people tried it and a few more and word spread that it really was possible to trust and do business with someone online who was across the region or across the country from you.
With technology, trust and the need to find the best, (and not just the best locally) to work with your business, these three forces have helped to create an opportunity for outsourced and virtual marketing companies to exist and the clientele who trust these types of services and who are looking for this type of marketing partner.
Experience. The team. Your work.
Look for experience.
Yes, we all have to start somewhere. I started this company in 2009, and though brand new, I had the background working with teams, experts and suppliers virtually while in the corporate world. I knew how to run, manage and deliver results based on a virtual, remote team
My very first job after college was as a marketing assistant in the music marketing dept. of Future Shop (now part of Best Buy). This was 1994 and at that time the company had a mandate to launch a music department into each Future Shop location across Canada. My job was to connect with the music manager in each store, keep them aware of promotions, encourage sales, advise on floor plan changes, answer questions, troubleshoot on department set up and anything else they needed help with.
And how was this done? Via phone and fax across Canada. I had to be available, be clear with my requirements, build rapport and be encouraging to 20+ music store managers I had never met in person. This was my first job and first experience working virtually, before the term entered our vernacular. Starting then, and throughout my corporate marketing career, working with suppliers, experts and team that were only (only being the word – it was the only way to be in touch with them) a phone call or email away, I know what it is like to move a team to magic and to make things happen when limited to using just the written word and friendly voice to get results.
Ask about their team.
You want to look for a company who chooses the best for the job, the best for your project and uses professionals who are able to deliver. You want to hear that they like working this way and are good at it. The worst thing to hear would be that a company works virtually because it is cheaper.
Know how they’ll manage your work.
Does the company have an established process for working on your project? Will you have access to an online portal to see the status of your work? They meet with you in person (or via video) if requested? Are weekly, monthly or quarterly reports part of their deliverables to you? Does their process feel comfortable to you? Will they accommodate your time zone?
When working with a new team, there will always be the learning curve and bumps in the road that go along with getting to know new colleagues. However, do you trust their process? Have they answered all of your questions? Do they know you may be new to working with a virtual marketing team and need a bit of help getting use to the process? Have they offered references of other clients you can talk with?