Addressing the Marketing Stressors of 2024

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When you are just starting out in marketing your business or non-profit there can be a flurry of questions that enter your mind. How do I create ad campaigns? How do I stay consistent on social media? How can I reach more people on Google? These are a huge part of marketing, and it can be a lot of work to keep up on these topics, and there are many other topics that we will not even be able to get into, like how to handle bad publicity or bad reviews.

In this insight we are going to look at ideas focusing on small businesses and non-profits looking to begin or flush out their marketing campaign here in Cleveland. There are so many vast audiences here in our city that it is becoming increasingly important to focus your audiences down to a few types of customers or clients. There are different names to give potential customers or clients, but in this post, we are referring to anyone that might be interested in your business as a “persona.”

SEO spelled with scrabble pieces

What marketing services are offered?

Our firm is a full-service agency, so there is extraordinarily little we cannot do, and if we can’t do it, we know the people to go to get it done. Here are a few types of marketing that many firms mix and match, we will start with the most common and get a little more niche as we go:

It is important for small businesses to zero-in on what they need for their marketing strategy. Some agencies might not have the capability to do authentic video production, and it will inevitably increase your bill, because they will be hiring out-of-house video production services. In many cases, the prices of certain services are increased depending on the amount of labor required for things like that.

a post0it note with "design the pricing web page" written on it.

How can marketing help my small business?

Marketing is a business essential. We would love to tell you that word of mouth is the best type of marketing out there, but with over eleven million people in Ohio, and over three-hundred sixty-one thousand in Cleveland alone, well, that is a lot of mouths and ears doing a lot of work. It is much more effective and time-efficient to get your brand out in front of people with campaigns, posts, and content in general.

Once you increase your brand awareness it is much more likely you will be picked out of a crowd of your competitors. You will be the organization people choose because of the familiarity with your name. One way to focus on brand awareness is to cultivate relationships with your clients and customers, these systems are aptly named “CRM” or “Customer Relationship Management” systems. These can help you build leads, reach out to potential customers who have clearly shown interest in you, and even use a point system to assign each persona a score, this lets you reach out in confidence as they have clearly heard of you. Assigning personas also facilitates lead scoring, it all works in tandem.

Lastly, working on “Search Engine Optimization,” or “SEO,” for your brand name is going to get you in front of more eyes on Google and Bing. If someone searches “Best Thai restaurant in Cleveland” you want your website and social media pages mentioning that you are, in fact, a Thai restaurant in Cleveland. This puts you higher in search results, in more search results, and will get more people to order from your Thai restaurant. It is as simple as that.

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What is your approach to marketing strategy?

First, we will tell you our approach, and then we will touch on other common strategies used by many Cleveland marketing agencies.

Acclaim approaches each client with a full brand audit and website audit, and our first meeting with a client involves a small “discovery” period where we look at the strengths and weaknesses of your business or non-profit. Through a written and constructed plan of attack we will get our team members on separate facets of whichever strategy we produce. Recently, we had a non-profit located in Akron, Ohio who needed a website refresh, social media advertisements, overview videos produced, and even their social media accounts created for the first time. If a client needs multiple projects to be completed, we facilitate each other and coordinate simultaneously. We started all of those immediately after two discovery meetings, and we always tell our clients that our retainer services enable us to go a bit heavier one month, a little bit lighter another depending on their immediate needs.

When we speak for other marketing agencies, we want to be clear that more local agencies will probably approach a client in a similar way; however an agency located elsewhere in the United States, or even in an entirely different country may have barriers that prevent them from showing up the next day to film a video, or even send you an email in a timely manner because of a huge time zone difference.

A widespread practice in the marketing world is up-charging for specific labor-intensive services. There might be an hourly rate for copywriting and social media management services, and then a much higher price per hour for video production or website design. Be aware of this when probing different agencies for their services, make sure to flush it all out before signing a contract with that agency.

A marketing report laying next to a Macbook Pro.

How does a marketing agency measure success?

A common term used in the marketing world is “Key Performance Indicators” or “KPI,” which is a set of goals and aspirations you and your marketing firm wish to accomplish in a set timeframe. KPIs take many forms, it is up to you to decide. One of the most common goals a business or non-profit might have been to reach a certain number of followers on a specific social media site. Say, “We want 1,000 followers on Facebook by June 4th”, this is a wonderful KPI as it sets a clear goal that is well-defined with an exact date. However, “Work on Twitter” is a bad KPI, as it is too vague with no time limit at all. Remember, setting a time limit is not necessarily important to be stressed when you approach the date, but it gives you accountability towards the goal. If you are making progress, but do not hit the goal by the end date, it might still be a really good Key Performance Indicator by and large.

Engagement is a great KPI, as you and your marketing firm can set simple goals in reasonable time, like “100 more website visits per month by the end of the year”. This is trackable, doable, and can have multiple ways to be accomplished so different strategies can be explored. We already talked about social media but remember that content created can always be cross posted. Make a KPI for yourself like, “Upload all videos from YouTube channel directly onto Facebook, Instagram, X, or Tumblr by the end of the month.” This will undoubtedly help your engagement, and it creates evergreen content on those platforms that can be boosted or utilized later on those platforms.

We have talked about KPIs enough, let us move on to “Return on Investment” or “ROI,” which we are sure you have heard before. ROI is only tricky when it deals with certain types of engagement, as you cannot put a price on a Facebook like, or a shared video on YouTube. Instead, ROI is usually concentrated on “Cost per Click” or “CPC” on your website through a search engine. Google, Meta, and Bing have statistics and tracking capabilities that make the United States government jealous. We can calculate the potential price of someone searching for a good or service in a specific location and assign it to individual key words or phrases. Compiling a report on those statistics is straightforward, and multiple platforms can give you one at the push of a button.

Analytics spelled out with colored pencils below and a hand placing the "S" at the end.

How do marketing firms determine pricing?

Acclaim charges a monthly retainer, and an hourly charge that is the same no matter what type of work we are doing. We have seen many times where an emergency occurs and someone needs a page added to their website or a short showcase video for potential investors, and we do not charge for diverse types of work or changing projects quickly to dedicate your retainer towards. It is important to note that not all marketing firms subscribe to this method. We like this approach as it is the most flexible and allows us to dedicate an hourly rate to impulsive projects or overages.

Some firms will only charge by the hour, and the charge will change depending on the service provided, here let us make something up to give you an idea:

This might be the exact approach an agency might take with you for different marketing services. You decide on what needs the most focus, and then the marketing firm will charge you for the hourly rate of each service.

The last style of charging is cost per project. This is quite common as well, where an advertising agency might charge you a flat cost for a televised commercial, say $15,000 including video production, editing, and acquiring/paying for the television spot. This type of service charge is very straightforward and is great if you only need a few things done intermittently. If you already have a designated staff member working on your website and socials, but you want to flush out your YouTube channel, it might be a clever idea to hire a marketing firm like Acclaim to make you a one-off video here and there throughout the year. We have had contracts for individual projects like that, though it is not our norm.

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What type of marketing agency is best for my small business?

This is not a well-defined answer, we apologize, but it truly depends on your business. Taking the time and identifying your needs is important. Self-reflection is always difficult, but taking a good hard look in the mirror and picking your business apart will go a long way in targeting your marketing efforts.

If your online presence is lackluster you need to find a marketing agency that can overhaul or redesign your website and SEO, this will get your name out in front of more people in Google searches. If your logo and brand has not been changed in many years it might be an innovative idea to look at a firm more skilled in graphic design where they can make you a new logo and a brand-new animation for that logo. If you feel like you don’t have enough customer interaction it would benefit you to find a marketing firm that is capable of a lead generation campaign, or email marketing strategy to get deals and specials out in front of repeating customers or to reach out to possible newcomers to your business or non-profit.

Look at each agency’s work, and if you notice similar types of businesses listed on their client’s page, or multiple instances of work similar to what you are looking for, it’s a good idea to reach out and ask about pricing, payment structures, and capabilities if your project might be a little larger.

It is up to you and your business’ needs. Feel free to reach out anytime to Acclaim to pick our brains and find out exactly what kind of marketing agency would work best for your circumstance. Our phone number is (844) 375-2220, call us anytime.