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Should I Hire A Marketing Agency, A Marketing Consultant, Or A PR Firm?

Regardless of the size of your organization, it can be confusing to figure out what type of marketing agency or marketing consultant to hire to help you create awareness, and ultimately cause sales of your products, services, and solutions. The ability to market digitally/electronically — that came with wide-spread adoption of the internet — brought with it the following changes when it came to organizations engaging outside help for their marketing (outsourcing their marketing), whether it be for one-off/one-time work or ongoing work.

How Digital Marketing Leveled The Playing Field For Both Advertisers and Ad Agencies

  • Organizations who couldn’t afford the high costs associated with producing TV, radio, transit, or outdoors (billboards or other) advertising, found new, more affordable marketing activities were now available to them in the form of social media posting and advertising, tactics that support websites being found on Google and other search engines for desirable search phrases (organic search tactics/SEO tactics), paid search engine ads/marketing (SEM), e-blast and e-mail marketing, and more.
  • Since many organizations looking for marketing help no longer required the infrastructure and diverse skillsets associated with marketing tactics that involved large production activities and costs, some realized they no longer needed to hire a full-service large advertising agency — think the type of agency featured in the acclaimed TV series, “Mad Men,” or on “BeWitched,” as smaller marketing shops, like ours, could meet their digital marketing needs and/or traditional marketing needs related to activities that don’t require a lot of production, such as Public Relations (PR), or print advertising.

Getting back to whom your organization should consider hiring for ongoing marketing services or one-time/one-off marketing project work/help, here’s one Boston digital marketing agency’s, Boston SEO company’s, and Boston marketing consultant’s thoughts — yeah, we consider ourselves to be all of the aforementioned, and for clients who engage us for non-PR work, we can also be engaged for help with PR since our Principal has a great deal of PR experience.

This is a square gray image with our Boston digital marketing agency's logo (Results Communications & Research's) logo at the bottom. At the top of the image in big bold letters it says "Should I Hire An Ad Agency, A Digital Marketing Agency, Marketing Consultant, Or PR Firm?" Underneath That In A Dark Powder Blue It Says" Read One Marketing Professional's Thoughts."

How To Figure Out What Type Of Marketing Firm To Hire And Questions To Ask

Branding and Design Firm. A firm that refers to themselves as a branding/brand and design firm primarily focuses on helping you figure out the look and feel of your brand, including the logo, colors, and graphic elements that will be associated with your brand. They usually offer website design services, but not always. And, some do offer other digital marketing or traditional marketing services thru collaborations or partnerships with digital marketing agencies, advertising agencies, or marketing consultants, or marketing freelancers. So, if you know you will need particular digital and/or traditional marketing services after working with the branding firm to develop or execute a new brand identify for you, ask in advance if they offer those services, so you will know whether you will have the burden of hunting around after for someone to help with traditional and digital marketing services — particularly to drive traffic to any new site you engage them to design for you.

Digital Marketing Agency. Digital marketing agencies tend to offer both higher-level strategic planning services, as well as hands-on/execution services, related to any marketing tactic that is digital or electronic related, including: e-blast/e-mail strategy and execution services, social media strategy and voice (actually writing and scheduling of social media posts), online advertising (social media/display advertising, Google Ads or other search engine advertising), blog strategy and voice work (actually writing and posting of blogs to your website), and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Most will offer content marketing services as well to help you figure out what content your target audiences are most interested in, and an editorial calendar for serving up such content on your website. Website content writing services likely will be available as well.

SEO Company. Because paid search engine advertising/marketing (SEM) supports an organization ranking well in relevant search engine results, as our Boston SEO company does, most SEO companies offer strategy and execution services related to both organic search/organic SEO tactics, as well as paid search advertising services. Some will offer some additional digital marketing services as well.

Marketing Consultant. In the almost nine years since we launched Results C & R, we’ve met a large number of marketing consultants. The degree to which they offer hands-on/execution work vs. developing high-level strategic plans tends to really vary. Some offer a number of hands-on services, in addition to helping you develop a strategic marketing plan, while others don’t do the actual marketing tactic execution work. If your organization has a number of internal marketing people who can actually oversee or execute the marketing plan developed by a consultant, a marketing consultant may be just what and all that you need.

Public Relations Firm/PR Firm. The focus of public relations firms is to get your organization unpaid-for-advertising/marketing. By helping your organization develop a strategy for causing various reporters and media to cover your story, they help your organization get mentions and attention without the cost of an expensive advertising campaign. PR firms also tend to offer event planning services since an event may be the perfect way to create awareness of your organization and/or create good will among your target audiences. Keep in mind that if you only need help with putting on an event vs. getting regular/ongoing press coverage, you could consider hiring an event planning firm. Many event planning firms also have experience getting media/reporter coverage for an event as well.

In general, the biggest overlap between a digital marketing agency and a Public Relations firm is that they both tend to offer social media services, since social media posts — particularly organic vs. paid/boosted social media posts — can help to generate good will and create awareness of an organization’s products, services, and solutions.

Advertising Agency. Nowadays, when people think of, or decide to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency, it’s related to the fact that advertising agencies can pull in the right team members or hire the right contractors for a marketing campaign that requires heavy-duty production. As we mentioned above, scripting and executing a radio, TV (network or cable) or streaming advertisement requires the collaboration of a bunch of individuals with diverse skillsets, the renting of studios and/or locations in which to film, the hiring of “talent” for the broadcast spot — whether it be aired on the radio or TV. Activities like the aforementioned are often the reason why, in our current day and age, an organization would look to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency. Although, most advertising agencies offer digital marketing services, in addition to traditional ones.

Web Design/Web Development Firm. Web design and web development firms are exactly what their name indicates — firms who help design and develop websites for clients. Many also offer logo design or other graphic design services because of their web designers’ ability to successfully complete such work. All web design/web development firms DO NOT offer SEO services nor do they always understand SEO, so if you expect or want to receive SEO services as part of your new website launch, be sure to ask any firms you are considering to design and develop your site, what knowledge they have of SEO and/or who they have on their team that has an SEO background. Otherwise, as we explain in this blog post, you’ll end up with a website that is not easily found via search engine searches.

Unfortunately, we regularly interact with prospective clients who had someone develop a beautiful, effective site for them, but the site is not being visited/found by target audiences because SEO tactics weren’t put in place by the web design/web development firm as part of the site development and design engagement.

This image shows the back of a dark-skinned woman who is wearing a striped white and light blue shirt. She is holding a pencil or pen above a notebook on her right-hand side and her left-hand is hovered over a laptop computer keyboard. The screen of the computer says "Marketing" in big blue letter. The image is being shown in keeping with our Boston Digital Marketing Agency's blog post about how to know what type of marketing agency or consultant to hire.

What Should I Expect To Pay A Marketing Agency Or A Marketing Consultant?

Based, again, on our 9 years of marketing agency and marketing consulting experience at the time of writing this post, we’ve found that, in general, the bigger the agency/marketing shop, the more expensive their hourly rate and marketing project fees are. Why? It mainly comes down to overhead and the costs of maintaining and marketing a larger organization, offering a large number of employees benefits, etc.

If your organization doesn’t expect to need the type of traditional advertising production work outlined above under the “Advertising Agency” section, you’ll very likely fare better financially hiring a smaller digital marketing agency or PR firm or a marketing consultant. Plus, you may end up getting more personal attention than you would with a larger agency. And, most smaller shops can pull in a collaborator, freelancer, or other agency or consultant, as needed.

We’re A Boston Digital Marketing Agency, Boston SEO Company, Boston Marketing Consultant, and Boston PR Firm All In One!

Due to our Principal’s more than 30 years of corporate marketing and consulting experience, we offer all the services called out in the heading directly above! We regularly meet with both start-ups and long-standing organizations — both for-profit and non-profit — for complimentary discussions about their marketing challenges and opportunities, so feel free to use our calendar app to schedule a FREE initial consultation https://calendly.com/gail-moraski.

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How To Know Where To Invest Marketing Energy and Dollars: Push Vs. Pull Marketing

Regardless of whether your organization has a small or large marketing budget and staff, you still want to spend your time and money on marketing judiciously. Who wants to throw either valuable dollars or time out the window, right?

Why not make this the year you ensure you’re maximizing your marketing efforts by revisiting your marketing plans based on the information shared below about what marketing tactics make sense based on available data.

What Is Pull Marketing?

Each marketing expert probably has their own thoughts on what they consider marketing tactics that fall in the “pull” category. But, at our Boston digital marketing agency and Boston SEO company, we think of “pull marketing” tactics as those to be employed if evidence shows that individuals are actively searching to identify someone in your geography who offers the products, services, and solutions to problems that your organization offers.

So how do you know if people are actively searching in the geography you serve for the products, services, and solutions you offer? The best way to ascertain the aforementioned is by conducting keyword research. As we explain in this previous blog post, keyword research helps you identify the average # of monthly Google searches that are conducted on search terms (known as keywords) relevant to your products, services, and solutions. Because of the tools to which you’ll need access and the challenges of figuring out how to structure your research, you’ll likely fare better by hiring an SEO company or a team of SEO experts, like ours, to conduct meaningful and accurate keyword research.

If keyword research does indicate a large volume of individuals are regularly searching to identify an organization like yours, then pull marketing tactics, such as optimizing your website to be found on Google via organic search engine optimization (SEO) tactics and/or paid search tactics (think Google Ads) make great marketing sense. You’ll still need to have an effective website (one with appropriate calls-to-actions and that provides for a strong user experience) to cause site visitors to take desired actions on your site (convert), but the two aforementioned tactics should definitely cause individuals who are “warm leads,” i.e., likely interested in your products because they are actively searching, to visit your website.

What Is Push Marketing?

We always like to say “push marketing” is about the putting the idea in the heads of individuals and organizations who might be a good fit for the product, service, or solution you offer. Push marketing tactics are all about serving up/providing information about your products or services to individuals who, based on various demographics and characteristics, such as age, gender, income level, job/career/industry, etc., might likely be interested in buying your product or engaging you for your service.

Examples of both digital and traditional push marketing tactics include: display advertising (both social media advertising and Google display advertising), banner advertising (ad purchased on a website that serves individuals and orgs. who might be a good fit for your product), and print advertising in a newspaper or magazine. The aforementioned list is not exclusive, but we think you get the picture.

So, when is push marketing warranted? Push marketing makes great sense if keyword research indicates that individuals aren’t actively searching in your geography to identify someone like your organization. Particularly when a product or service offered is a brand new one that your target audiences are not likely familiar with/don’t know exist, then focusing on executing effective push marketing tactics will be the most efficient use of your marketing time and dollars.

When To Employ Both Push and Pull Marketing

Organizations with particularly large marketing budgets and teams tend to employ both push and pull marketing tactics, and therefore, both pursue people that are “warmer” leads for their products and services, i.e., those who are actively searching AND people who are less warm but still might be a good fit for their products and services. A key reason they may employ both push and pull marketing tactics is that pull alone doesn’t bring in the volume of leads and sales they need to meet their sales objectives.

For smaller organizations who have fewer in-house individuals devoted to marketing and a limited marketing budget, the majority of marketing dollars and time should definitely be earmarked for the type of tactics — push vs. pull — that make the most sense for the organization, based on what keyword research and any other appropriate available data indicates. But, it’s likely still worth investing a small amount of time and dollars in push marketing tactics, like Google Display or Instagram/Facebook advertising, just to see what such tactics yield in results.

Our Team Of Marketing Experts And SEO Experts Is Here To Help

We always say our Boston SEO company and Boston digital marketing agency “never encourages clients or prospective clients to continue with or start with a marketing tactic that doesn’t make sense for them.” In fact, our company’s tagline since we launched our marketing agency in 2014 has been “maximizing results thru research-supported marketing.” We’ll never suggest a client employ a particular tactic, based on whether or not we offer a service related to it. If we don’t offer a marketing service from which research indicates a client would benefit, we’ll refer the work to a one of our fellow marketing collaborators. But, the very first step is holding a complimentary discussion to learn about your particular organization’s marketing challenges and opportunities, so please use our calendar app to select a convenient day and time for you if you’d like to chat!

strategic planning, walking

Why I Always Walk On New Year’s Day

Note: This post was originally posted in January of 2023, but the update below pertains to January of 2024.

The Best Laid Plans

Well, as I mentioned in my original post about why I always walk on New Year’s Day, I made a plan to, and did enjoy a long walk on New Year’s Day of 2024. My husband and I had a great day visiting Powers Farm in Randolph. Such a beautiful place. Nice walking trails — some in the woods, some out-in-the-open, ducks, geese, large pond, plus playground, so what’s not to love about that and starting off your new year at some a nice property? And, it also made it extra special that so many other people were enjoying the beautiful estate, fresh air, and sunshine, and we were greeted by so many with “HAPPY NEW YEAR!”

I had packed a snack for us of some yummy roasted red pepper hummus from a new favorite Lebanese restaurant of mine, Casba, in Quincy, and some gluten-free crackers, so we ended our time at the farm by sitting on a bench in the sun — as the sun started setting — by having a snack picnic. It felt like the perfect ending to a perfect New Year’s Day.

As the owner of a small digital marketing agency and SEO company, I’ve take very little time off annually. Most of the work completed by my agency is completed by yours truly. But, after a year that was particularly heavy and fast-paced on the work front (which prevented me from taking planned time-off during the summer), I felt I owed it to both myself and my clients to take some time off during the holidays. Often, I work a fair amount during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, so that I can hit the ground running in 2024. But this year, I decided to do things differently. I was always jealous of other marketing consultants and work connections who started off the new year refreshed, and thought, “why can’t I, and shouldn’t I, be one of those “refreshed” individuals this year? I didn’t let anyone book me for a meeting during the week between Christmas and New Year’s and I only worked the equivalent of about 1.25 or 1.5 days between when I wrapped up work on December 22 and returned to my office on January 2. And, the main reason for working at all during that timeframe was because of time-sensitive online advertising campaigns that needed my oversight.

Ultimately, by only working one full day on the day after Christmas, and not putting in any weekend time as I usually do, after December 22 and before January 2, I was able to take about 7.5 days off from working, which is pretty much unheard of for me as a business owner.

So, the above is all the good news, actually great news!

The bad news is that I unexpectedly began experiencing the symptoms of norovirus the evening of New Year’s Day, after we returned home from the farm. And, hence, why I used the heading above, “The Best Laid Plans.” I had done everything I could to position myself for a new year — did my annual new year’s walk, started a new stretching program, took all those extra days off to give my busy mind a rest, spent a lot of fun, quality time with friends and family during my time off (see picture of fun day in Boston at Snowport in Boston’s Seaport District below), but life can certainly throw you a curveball. Rather than hitting my office computer refreshed and rearing to go on January 2, as I had planned, I barely had the energy that day to cancel or reschedule a couple of meetings and to respond to a couple of time-sensitive issues and/or e-mails, after being up all night with stomach sickness.

It took me several days to bounce back from fever and belly woes, but as I type this, I feel back to my old self. And, you know what? I still believe taking time for me/to take care of myself this winter was a fabulous idea and the right decision even if I didn’t accomplish all I hoped to on the work front the first week of the new year. Despite being a little worn out physically, I feel very energized and excited about the new year — on both the personal and work fronts! And, I’m glad I’m going to bring that energy to all my client engagements and deliverables!

Gail Snow Moraski, Audrey Snow Barresi (Gail's twin sister), Jay Moraski (Gail's husband) and Nick Snow (Gail's niece) standing in Fan Pier area Boston MA with Rowe's Wharf and the Boston Harbor Hotel and Boston Harbor in background.

Stay Strong So You Can Bounce Back More Easily

I guess the point of sharing all of the above is this. Whether it’s related to your personal health or your business health, we all should always do all we can to prep and position ourselves for success, because as we discussed in this recent blog post about planning for Google SGE, there are times when we will be forced to change course and pivot unexpectedly, and we’ll be glad we went into that need to pivot from the strongest possible place.

Original Post From 2023:

Since the month of January is always busy at our Boston digital marketing agency and Boston SEO company (clients and prospective clients often want to kick off new initiatives and tactics with the new year; plus everyone’s re-energized after some time off), and since many are still in holiday mode today (many employers marked this as a holiday since New Year’s Day 2023 fell on a Sunday this year), I’m taking advantage of the slightly quieter day to post another in a series of posts about walking.

At least for the last 20 years or so, I’ve always kicked off the new year with a new year’s day walk or hike. My thinking has always been that it will bring good health luck/karma to the new year if I start the new year off with a walk. When I look back at my New Year’s Day walks/hikes, I have fond memories of a variety of family members and friends joining me, and of the different locations where we’ve walked. A number of New Year’s Day walks have taken place at Pond Meadow Park, which straddles the towns/cities of Braintree and Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Yesterday, a long-time friend of mine, as well as my husband, Jay, joined me for a walk at two locations — around the Quincy Quarries Reservation (despite currently living on the South Shore, and having lived here when I was in my 20’s, I don’t believe I ever visited the Quarries) and on the main road (Riccuiti Drive) leading from the Reservation up to Granite Links Golf Club. I so enjoyed seeing all the brightly spray-painted rocks at the Quarries, but just as much, all the groups of individuals enjoying visiting them. And, the motivation to complete the 3-mile round-trip trek to and from Granite Links (which requires a lot of what I call “hill work” in one direction) was the fabulous view of beautiful Boston that awaited.

This image shows a number of very large jagged rocks -- ones big enough for people to climb painted with a variety of graffiti in a variety of bright spray paint colors. It is shown to support our Boston Digital Marketing Agency's blog post about why we walk on new year's day and one of the places we visited, Quincy Quarries Reservation, of which it is an image.
Source: Image Of Quincy Quarries From Stacy Botzos, Fotospot

While we were out, we also drove and stopped to visit a Massachusetts landmark my husband had been wanting to check out for a while, Granite Railway — one of the first railroads built and operated in the U.S., but also an inclined one.

Since I had already gone for a short walk in my own Braintree neighborhood (Braintree Highlands/South Braintree) prior to our Quincy walking, I was thrilled that New Year’s Day 2023 had been a two-walk day! If that doesn’t manifest good health for the new year, I’ll definitely be disappointed!

How Will You Kick Off Your New Year To Support Your Dreams For 2023?

We’d love to hear how you plan to kick off your new year to support your dreams and goals for 2023, so please do share. And, please reach out if we can help you in any way to achieve those dreams! And, if you’re looking for some 2023 marketing inspiration, check out these evergreen posts about planning for a new year.

Strategic Marketing Planning For New Year

We wish all our readers a very happy, healthy, and adventurous 2023!