There are three persistent myths about remote marketing agencies. This article will myth-bust all three and give you the peace of mind to confidently hire the best for your needs.
“Remote” or “virtual” was an established way of working for many consultants, professionals, and service providers prior to the pandemic. In Canada, Statistics Canada reported 4% of the workforce worked remotely in 2016 compared to 32% at the beginning of 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has blown away many people’s reservations regarding working remotely and has been the biggest driving force for remote work in recent times.
Whether you like working remotely or you don’t, one big hurdle facing remote/virtual marketing agencies has been removed due to the pandemic. And that hurdle has been the trust from the client that their work could get done just as well by a remote team as an in-office team (most often in the client’s city) the client could physically visit.
When I set up New Initiatives Marketing, I set it up to be remote from day one (circa 2009). This choice was due to my experience and level of comfort working with remote teams while in the corporate world (1994-2009). I was very used to working with colleagues or suppliers who were across the country or across the globe. Some I never met in person, others, I met in person only after working with them a few months to a year or longer.
This is not to say that remote work is the only way to go, not at all. I very much value in-person relationship building, which is why my colleagues and I routinely hopped on planes (pre-COVID and when safe) to meet clients for working sessions, presentations and other important get-togethers.
Working with a remote marketing company allows the company to hire the best people onto your project, not just the best available locally. And since marketing often involves many different experts contributing to a project, they all are not needed all day, every day, week in and week out. This requirement lends itself to remote teams.
If you’re still hesitant to commit your company’s marketing support to a virtual or remote agency, I understand. Below I run through six of the biggest hesitations from company owners and in-house senior marketing leaders on this topic. I hope I can encourage you to consider a remote marketing team this year.
Somewhere along the line, the impression became that communicating with your remote marketing team was somewhat like putting in a support ticket online, which once you hit “send” you were never really sure when or if you’d hear back about your inquiry.
Fact: It is as easy to communicate with a remote marketing agency as it is to contact a brick-and-mortar marketing agency.
Folks running a marketing company know that their clients are the reason they are in business.
Typically, a remote marketing team will be supporting your company with a marketing program you both (client and agency) have agreed upon. This will include levels of support to expect and may include your own client operations manager for your day-to-day contact.
Much like you probably wouldn’t drive over to your local marketing company located in your city to ask a question, you’d probably email, chat, message or call them – the same goes for communicating with your remote marketing agency.
Most virtual marketing companies will be set up to accommodate different time zones, work styles, service level agreements and reporting they are responsible for. This may mean communication is via email or limited to weekly communication at the smaller end of a marketing program level, all the way up to a white-glove level where you have a dedicated representative ready to respond within a couple of hours. All levels of what you need for service and communication are negotiable.
Keep in mind that just because you have a remote marketing team, doesn’t mean you can’t ever meet them in person. Arrangements are possible for team meetings, important events and other times in-person support makes the most sense to support your company’s goals.
“Out of sight = must not be working” is a misconception that many managers may have either from how they themselves have been trained or from their own experience.
While personal preferences can vary widely depending on the type of supplier relationship you want to have, the assumption that a remote team is naturally less productive than a traditional agency where every team member is at their desk, in the office all day, every day is false.
Productivity in this case depends on many things such as management, the will to work, enthusiasm, future prospects and great skills/task fit.
Fact: A study published by Statistics Canada reported that 90% of remote workers maintain similar or higher productivity as compared to in-office work. The study also reported that a large portion of remote workers accomplished more work and reported longer work hours as compared to in-office work.
The reason behind this increased productivity for remote businesses and workers according to an article published in INC magazine is that remote working allows for more comfort, no commutes and fewer office stressors.
Productivity is achieved regardless of location. Productivity depends more on the skills, expertise, and tools used.
There are a few ways to ensure your projects get completed to your satisfaction. This includes setting up regular check-ins, milestone reporting, and task deadlines. Those can be done via email or video calls, or another way that suits you best. Most often, depending on the marketing program you are investing in, there are opportunities for weekly, bi-weekly, monthly reporting on progress,
Another way that many remote marketing teams involve the client in the progress is by inviting them into their project management software. Be it Teamwork, Basecamp, Monday, or something else, clients can log in to see when their approval is needed, what the progress is and who on the marketing team is working on what.
This visibility into your projects your remote marketing team is handling can give you, the client, the peace of mind that your work is being done, and that your remote marketing team is very productive.
It is true in our industry that anyone who wants to can start their own remote marketing company regardless of their marketing experience. The marketing discipline, unlike being a medical doctor or lawyer, for example, does not require formal training or formal certification by law in order to call yourself a marketing consultant/professional/expert.
It is also true that many in the marketing profession have formal marketing training, and have kept up their training at least annually as our industry continues to change and the pace of change keeps increasing.
Fact: What is inexperienced? Experience requirements may vary depending on what you need.
Ask yourself, “what do I need the marketing team experienced in?” Asking that question, then seeking to answer it may be a better way to get the marketing support you need.
You should feel comfortable asking about who will be on your team and what type of experience they have. For our teams, we typically work with other professionals who are independent consultants or who run their own company specialized in an area of marketing. We do this as we’re working with other business owners who know what it is like to keep clients happy and keep the revenue coming into their own business. Too, working with experts means that they are focused on certain subject areas of marketing that require dedicated study and experience.
For example, our design team is a graphic design company focused on serving marketing companies, our Google Ads team is led by a marketing professional with decades of marketing experience who runs his own agency, our white paper writer is a specialist who only takes on long-form b2b (business-to-business) writing assignments, our other writers are a mix of journalists and content writers intent on carving out a solo business for themselves supporting marketing companies.
When you find out who will be on your team, ask about their professional background, how long they’ve been in business, how long they’ve been doing the work that they’ll be doing on your project. Ask why they were chosen to be on your team. Ask all the questions you need to in order to feel comfortable about who’ll be working for you. You may find that your remote marketing team is a symphony of experts, a dream team if you will.
With the experience, visibility, and reliability a remote marketing team can bring to your company, it may be your next best choice for your marketing needs this year. Many remote marketing companies work on packages or programs covering several months, you can always request a small test paid project to see what it is like to have your work done this way.
If you’re new to working with a remote marketing team, be sure to let them know. They were once new to remote work and understand it can take some time to get used to working this way. The good ones will be patient and ready to help you feel good about your choice to try out a remote marketing team.
Jen Kelly runs New Initiatives Marketing (NIM), the marketing team for businesses who don’t have a marketing team. With implementation and execution as NIM’s focus, we’ve been working world-wide remotely since 2009. NIM has supported marketing strategy execution in companies as large as the Fortune 50 and those as small (but growing) as $2M in annual revenue.