As a Platinum-level HubSpot parnter and the owner of an experienced inbound marketing agency, I frequently speak to companies that are looking to hire a marketing agency. In the course of these conversations, I regularly discover that the business owners and marketing execs I'm talking with are suffering from a common misconception in that they think by hiring an agency they won't have to devote any time to their marketing.
Just because you hire a marketing agency, it doesn't mean you can be hands off and take a "set it and forget it" approach to your marketing. This is especially the case if you have high expectations for the impact that your marketing investment will have on your business.
In this week's video, I break down how much time you should expect to spend working with your agency, and how you might need to adjust your expectations depending upon your level of commitment. Watch the video (just over 4 minutes long) to learn more.
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You Get Out Of It What You Put Into It
The amount of time that you'll need to dedicate to your inbound marketing depends on what your expectations are as far as what kind of relationship you want to have with your agency and what results you want from your investment in inbound.
For example, if you want to go fast and hit it hard and get lots of leads right out of the gate and have fantastic content that really stands out from the competition, you should be prepared to spend more time. On the other hand, if your goals are more modest and you just want to ensure you're blogging regularly so that you can raise brand awareness, and you're not really concerned about your content sounding like you wrote it yourself, you can spend less time.
Another thing to consider is how complex your product or service is. We work with a lot of health care companies (think hospitals and surgeons) and cyber security firms and in those industries, the accuracy and technical quality of content is critical. As a result, you should be prepared to spend more time working closely with your agency to create and edit content. On the other hand, if you sell a pretty straightforward product or service, you might be able to step back more and let your agency do the bulk of the work on content creation.
Yes, But How Much Time Do I ACTUALLY Need to Spend?
The exact amount of time you put into your marketing also depends on what exactly you are doing:
- Blogging: Blogging is typically a part of every inbound marketing engagement. In my experience, most clients should be prepared to spend, at minimum, an hour or two a week on their blogs. Even when an agency is writing your blog, you should still collaborate with them on the topics and review/edit the content they produce. In some cases, you may also need to commit time to subject matter expert (SME) interviews. Here at Quintain, our Content Manager spends a lot of time on the phone every week interviewing client SMEs. She's got it down to a science, and in a one hour phone call, can extract enough information to produce four blogs. The process is very efficient, but if your team isn't willing to commit that time, it could be hard to consistently produce high quality blogs.
- Conversion Offers: There are many different types of conversion offers, from ebooks, to case studies, infographics, webinars, calculators, white papers and more. Regardless of the format, the idea behind most conversion offers is that they deliver more value than a simple blog. As a result, they typically will require more of your time than a blog will. Think of it this way, if you need to devote an hour or two to blogging each week, you should expect to devote at least twice that for the creation, review and editing of a conversion offer (although this time will likely be spread out over several weeks).
- Emails: From email newsletters to lead nurturing workflows, most inbound marketing strategies include a considerable amount of email marketing. It's probably a good idea to budget at least 15 minutes to review and edit each email your agency is producing.
- Meetings: On top of SME interviews and content creation/editing, you should be meeting with your agency team on a regular basis. For the typical retainer, we meet with our clients weekly for 30 to 60 minutes, and then hold a Monthly Goal Setting and Strategy Meeting that takes about an hour.
These are just four examples of the things you'll need to devote time to if you hire a marketing agency. As you can see, its a far cry from "set it and forget it."
Are Your Expectations Realistic?
The last thing to ask yourself is whether your expectations for working with an agency are realistic. We've worked with hundreds of clients over the years and in a few cases, we've had to end our agency-client relationship because the client had unrealistic expectations for us as an agency. Typically, this occurs when clients come to us and want their blogs and other content to sound exactly like they wrote it themselves.
If this is something you're looking for, I hate to break it to you, but the only person who can create content that sounds exactly like you wrote it yourself is YOU. So if that is the case, you should plan on spending even more time, because you'll need to write your own content.
In most cases, your content doesn't really need to sound exactly like you. Instead, it needs to be consistent with your brand voice, accurate, well written, educational, search engine optimized, and have a clear point of view. When you achieve this, you'll get more traffic to your website and your readers will keep coming back for more - and that is the whole point of having a blog.
How Much Time Are You Spending?
The amount of time that you spend on your marketing when you work with an agency will vary depending upon the variables I mentioned above, as well as the sheer volume of marketing work that your agency is doing every week. Bigger retainers that require the production of 3+ blogs per week and a monthly conversion offer will require more time on your part than a small engagement where the agency publishes one blog a week and a new conversion offer once per quarter.
The most important thing, in my opinion, is that you are honest with your agency partner up front - before you sign a contract - about how much time you can realistically devote. If you say you are committed and then don't make time for your marketing once the engagement is underway, you and your agency will both be frustrated. On the other hand, if you are candid during the sales process and say "I don't have ANY time" at least your agency can put together a solution that takes your bandwidth and availability into account.