By Jennifer Dring, (Digital Content Director)
“We didn’t market enough. That’s a rookie mistake.”
I recently saw this quote from an area business woman who, unfortunately, was explaining why her company was closing two of its three restaurant locations.
Having recently made the switch from Marketing Director of a local restaurant group to sitting on “the other side of the desk” as an Account Director with a digital marketing agency—this sentiment made me reflect on my experiences. On what I thought I knew, and what I know now.
As Marketing Director, I was clear on my responsibility to integrate various forms of marketing, advertising and public relations into a comprehensive strategy to grow brand awareness of two distinct restaurant concepts, while driving customers into seven individual restaurant locations spread across two states. I also was clear on my responsibility to live within a very defined budget. Those two efforts did not always feel compatible, especially considering that I was a one-woman marketing department.
I was given nothing but support for my efforts to market our restaurants and I was certainly not the only one who alone was doing the job meant for a team of employees. But such is life in the low-margin restaurant industry, and in any small business, I presume. Nevertheless, the result was oftentimes the sense that I was not doing quite enough, or “if I only I had … I could do this better.” And so it went.
Of course, as any Marketing Director will tell you, the phone rings non-stop with business development folks who are sure that their service, software, or platform, is the very thing that will make your marketing more efficient, effective, and successful. Most of the time I gave a polite “no, thank you,” but occasionally I would give it a chance. A new vendor through which I could place digital or print ads, maybe a billboard or radio promotion, or a new cloud-based service that would help me to engage with our clientele. But when a marketing agency approached me about their service offerings, my answer was always a firm “no.”
Interesting, right? Well, at the time, I was the marketing department—if I had to hire a marketing agency that meant I wasn’t doing my job … and I certainly didn’t want my boss to think that! Certainly, I could handle the social media for seven restaurants, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn—I’m not paying someone to write social posts for me! Yelp and Trip Advisor—I’ve got this. No worries, I can update the website with specials, promotions, events, and menu updates. Artwork—I have Canva! I will have that email blast ready to go in time for the next event. Oh, the blog … well, I am a little behind on that, maybe we should take that off of the website for now, I’m sure the SEO will be fine.
Oh, if I only I had known then what I know now after working for MJ2 Marketing.
What I know now is that hiring a marketing agency doesn’t mean that you are not doing your job, it means that you are able to do it better. A marketing agency provides a team approach to accomplish your marketing—and business—goals. As an Account Director at MJ2 for various accounts, including everything from a nonprofit association, a local builder, and a robotics company, I now spend my time working closely with my clients, helping them strategize, and to put that strategy into action. And I have a team of professionals to help me do that, which includes these amazing creatives, SEO specialists, web developers, social media specialists, content writers, photographers, and videographer. We function as a de facto marketing department, allowing our clients the time necessary to analyze the big picture, build strategy, and accomplish the myriad other tasks that fall on the desk of the Marketing Director.
Without a doubt, retaining a marketing agency is a financial commitment, especially to a small business. But when looked at as hiring the equivalent of a team of individuals, it begins to feel reasonable and, dare I say, necessary. In fact, it is even more effective as the onboarding and employment costs of hiring all those team members above would be next to impossible. Most businesses just could not do it. Our contracts at MJ2 are flexible, and I am amazed at how they blend the right talent (senior and millennial) to achieve the necessary KPI’s. I was also amazed at how passionate the team is at MJ2 about each and every client. They keep one eye on execution and the other on performance, and consult in a very transparent way. I often wish I knew then what I know now and truly understood the power of effective marketing or what that even looked like. I fully understand what it feels like to sit on the other side of the table with limited resources, and I know I did a good job with what I had at the time. Sitting on the other side of the table has sure opened my eyes to the value of outsourced marketing. Look me up at MJ2 Marketing if you would like to continue the conversation!