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Hiring marketing that fits

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Smart companies see tough times as an opportunity to ramp up their marketing and leave their competitors in the dust. But how to decide what kind of approach you need?

Settling for just a print ad in the daily newspaper or local weekly just doesn’t cut it, says Jerry Ketel, president of Portland-based marketing firm Leopold Ketel & Partners.

“You want something to elevate your brand,” Ketel says, adding that companies are flocking to the web for this reason.

The level of marketing your company needs depends on any number of things, among them being size, type, location and the ambition of the business. The clearer you know the long-term goals the more empowered you are to pick the right professional to help you get there.

Consider the average size of the company’s accounts and number of clients. If you are a smaller company working with a marketing firm with many large accounts, you may not get as much one-on-one attention when you want it.

Also know that some marketing firms say they can do it all, whether it is conventional ads, public relations, branding, video or online strategies. Maybe they can do it all, but the first question you should ask is can they do any of them really well.

That’s one advantage of picking a smaller niche-marketing company. Chances are better that they do one thing extremely well. For example, if you are a company convinced you need a more elaborate, flashy web presence targeting a certain demographic, a younger firm that specializes in this may be a wiser choice than a firm that for years has worked only in print.

“If you sell something that is niche, the marketing of it should be much less,” says Frank Grady, president of Portland-based marketing firm Grady Britton.

The drawback of hiring a specialized marketing firm is that you may instead need a broader strategy. Either employing one larger firm that offers several services or a handful of small, niche marketers can solve this. But working with a variety of marketing firms that have different ideas for your business can fracture the message you are trying to get out. That can be very counterproductive, says Grady.

A marketing firm’s reputation in the business community speaks for itself, but also look for a firm that isn’t afraid to challenge your own marketing predispositions and be innovative.

Finally, before calling firms Grady advises that you understand the two major philosophies of marketing: Some marketers look at your budget and spend only as much as needed to get the job done; others will spend more than actually needed.

“At the end of the day,” says Ketel, “there are no marketing dollars that are frivolous.”


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