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Press Release

Why outsourcing Marketing and PR to a specialist agency is a wise investment


Andrew Harvey

Sales and marketing are among the top concerns for SME engineering firms, according to a survey conducted by the (FPB) the Forum of Private Business. This was the headline that caught my eye for an article published in a well known UK technical engineering publication.

Well I suppose I would notice this headline, given that I run a PR & marketing agency which acts for among others…SME engineering firms.

In the article, Phil Orford, the FPB Chief Executive says, “Getting sales and marketing right is crucial for small engineering companies – especially as they are acknowledged as one of the main sectors which will continue to help the country to a sustainable private sector recovery. However, marketing often falls outside the skill-set of many business owners in the industry, leaving them unsure about how best to increase sales and grow. According to the survey, sales & marketing strategy is the priority for 26.1%, over 1 in 5 of smaller firms in the engineering industry.

As someone running a marketing business you would appreciate why I would agree with the sentiment. However, acknowledging the concern is one thing, doing something about it, is another. My experience from running a successful PR & marketing agency for over 17 years and talking regularly with publishers and media representatives is that many business owners do acknowledge that getting marketing right is crucial, but they are either unable, or unwilling to dedicate sufficient time to marketing. This is due to a lack of time, resources, or both. Whilst I would point out that this does not apply to our clients, the reality for many small engineering firms operating in a tough economic environment, is that they have to focus on what are the more important day-to-day functions of running a business…and marketing is often pushed down (or off) the agenda.

It seems to me that the sales and marketing functions of many businesses are often ‘lumped’ together, perhaps for convenience, cost-saving, or just because convention suggests that is what works best. The two functions are actually very different and require different skills.  Most people would agree that selling happens after marketing, because you need to open doors, raise awareness and create an understanding and appreciation of your products and services in order to clinch the sale. This applies to small engineering firms as much as any other type of business and at least the FPB member’s who responded to the survey, should be admired for their honesty for acknowledging that marketing does fall outside their skill-set.                

Thinking about the structure of most small engineering firms, especially in today’s challenging economic situation when resources are more likely to be under pressure, there is a case for out-sourcing marketing to a specialist consultant or agency, rather than having a directly employed marketing person.                                                                          

This would, at the very least reduce salary costs and if the ‘right’ agency is selected, could result in a satisfactory solution. Of course, there are hundreds of agencies from which to choose from, one-man bands up to larger concerns all touting for business. However, when the client is a ‘small engineering firm’ the choice can actually be narrowed down to a specialist agency - because in reality there are relatively few that genuinely understand the industrial, engineering sector and the media that serves it.      
     
So, what key benefits could a specialist, dedicated Marketing & PR agency offer small engineering firms? Most importantly, a clear understanding of the huge changes that have occurred in trade and technical media over the last 10 to 15 years and how this has impacted on where and how their customers (and potential customers) source information. The digital age has brought about massive fragmentation of media, no longer is an effective marketing strategy about appearing in a range magazines and maybe a couple of product card packs! The power of PR is also often misunderstood and opportunities are missed. An agency can advise small engineering firms on a clear and effective PR strategy with the value of regular editorial coverage, regardless of the size of the advertising budget. With the right media database, and good writing skills, coverage can be much broader than many companies can imagine, both on-line and in-print.        

So, if small engineering companies and other SME’s want to realise their potential and meet the expectations of helping UK plc to a sustainable private sector recovery, maybe it’s time they focused more on marketing and utilised the skills of a specialist Marketing and PR Agency. 

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