Contracting · Digital marketing

Would it be better for my smal business to contract out it's digital market / SEO or to bring on a partner to handle it.

John Hannan Ecommerce

Last updated on August 20th, 2017

I've been looking to hire a local advertising firm to handle the digital marketing of my brand. I live in a city that does not have a lot of options to choose from and worry about the quality of the work. I've reached out to a few local business owners for recommendations but they also do not know anyone. The local business man that I know don't have the relevant knowledge to be able to help me scale my business. On this websites there are only 12 entrepreneurs in my city which is why I am asking this question here.

I sell items that I manufacture in Mexico that are marketed online in The United States on Amazon, EBay, Etsy, and Houzz. I'm on track to do well over 250K in revenue in my first year. I have developed the manufacturing capacity to well over this, at this point in time. This is not a private label brand, I went out and found the various shops, and worked with them on developing and improving the quality of my own products. In my niche I sell the highest quality products for a premium. I am currently adding some new product categories to be able to offer a complete line of hardware. Next year I am looking to start another brand of hardware that would be in a completely separate niche in the market.

I've had businesses in the past that were interested in being able to purchase wholesale from me, but I didn't have the capacity at the time and regrettably had to turn them down. However, I am now at a point where I can start to do wholesale. I am making catalogs and will reach out to businesses later this year. Which will range from several different business types based on the businesses that contacted me in the past.

I have gotten to this point with very minimal web presence, I have spent less than a thousand dollars advertising. I did not feel compelled to so because of the production issues in the past. I have a basic understanding of this area, but I want a professional to do this so that it is optimized. I want to continue to find new products to market online and I have found several different opportunities that I would like to pursue, but I need to finish of my current brand before I start to work on the new ones.

I have been building this business on cash flow and I really can't afford to bring anyone on. I'm at a point where I need to increase revenue by 30% before I would consider this business a success.

How hard would it be to find someone who would be interested in handling the digital advertising, seo and could they be remote?

Thank you in advance for any advice.

Eric Kaufman Managing Director, Acumen Business Advisors,llc, Startegic Advisor to startups and small businesses

August 21st, 2017


First, congratulations on your current success.

Second, SEO/website work is best left to third-party companies. In addition, as you are already dealing on a national basis, the solution you seek need not be limited to your location.

(You already have some excellent suggestions.)

As you grow, it may be appropriate to bring someone in as an employee. Unfortunately, the results that are promised (from SEO) are difficult to authenticate.

Although your question concerns SEO, are you seeking a solution to the wrong (or premature) problem?

If I understand your intent, it is to increase sales. It is hard to believe, however, that Amazon, EBay, etc. are lacking in their capacity to lure customers.
Without knowing your product categories, it is impossible to estimate the total number of potential customers for what you currently offer. Are there so many more that your current venues fail to reach them or are they reaching every potential customer - who actually wants, needs and will pay you for your product?

It appears that you already have a business model that works.

You have current sales and the potential for increasing those sales via wholesaling.

Before spending any money on SEO or advertising, I suggest that you optimize your current potentials. Your percentage of profit per sale may be lower, but your total sales (and profit) will increase - and without additional out of pocket expense or effort.

Finally, when proposing any new product(s), it is advisable to test the market using customer/market "validation" techniques. Although a "direct to consumer" approach is best, wholesalers/distributors are a good source for validating what the market wants and what it will pay.

Hope this helps.

Mechelle Timmons First time owner, employer and job creator

August 21st, 2017

We are a small business, just starting out this year. We did a lot of research around this and the cost difference between companies was crazy! Additionally, looked at using an individuals but again through research, it was hit and miss whether you would get good bang for your dollar.

We ended up going with a company called PowerPhrase - they have different package levels depending on what your needs are

We are only engaging them for SEO at this time but they have a lot of other services and seem reasonably priced. We are using a mid-level package that is $399/month but they do have less expensive packages.

Best of luck to you!

Marko Tiosavljevic CEO at Cloud Industry

Last updated on August 21st, 2017

Its better to partner up with some experienced team. It will secure growth of your ecommerce.

Other choice is to go forward yourself, in that point you can hire someone experienced, but there is no cheap experienced eCommerce expert there..

I have over 7 experience and i know how they work... and i know if you find some who is valuable for your company, he will help you to increase your business value.

It is really simple

Jamr1970 entusiastic sympathic always wish to be entreprene

August 22nd, 2017

Dear John I would said that the location of your marketing would not be the problem. You have to ensure about the honesty, professionalism, knowledge (your products, your market, your market segment and where they are, the audience) of your marketing partner or firm. If I could be of help let me know. My Lïnkedin profile: I am also partnering with a Web Design & Digital Marketing company from India. Best Andrés Libre de virus. <#DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

Ian J.H. Reynolds Value Investor and Free Market Thinker

Last updated on August 20th, 2017

From a cost standpoint you are better off paying an affordable agency that has some expertise over bringing that capability in house near term given your size.

Full disclosure I run a software development company that offers SEO services. SEO is a long game that will not be an overnight success for your business unlike certain targeted ads.

If you are selling on ebay/amazon etc only then you will be limited to the on-page SEO of the associated platform. An independent website or postings / content outside of that domain are the only things that are going to get you traction outside of their portals.

Reach out if you'd like to learn more.

Ayodele Adedeji MD/CEO, ATASOA Nigeria Limited

August 21st, 2017

I think the best option is to partner with experienced person

Andrea Leiter Marketing Strategist - Multi-disciplined, brand & revenue builder, 40+ verticals, B2B & B2C

August 22nd, 2017

Hello John, Congratulations on the launch of your business! Before we begin I will qualify myself. I'm a marketing strategist with 20+ years’ experience building brands for large companies and Startups -- in multiple industries and in over 40 industry sectors. I've done business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C)...I'm what's considered both a brand and marketing strategist (with experience in product marketing, marketing communications, business strategy, corporate marketing (including public relations and investor relations) roles)... I understand all the functional areas of marketing, and which approaches are best for varied companies based on their industry, and how to form go-to-market strategy and frameworks taking into consideration changing purchase behaviors in industry due to technology changes, disruption or other factors). When I reposition or build the brands of companies or product portfolios, my efforts result in >20% top line growth, and often acquisition by competitors. I helped an RFID solution Start-up company orient early on to a B2B strategy for the hospitality industry (versus an initial B2C strategy they wanted to use). They got traction quickly, and won a Google Entrepreneur award. It's difficult as a marketing strategist for me to provide advice, because I don't understand exactly what your products are, what segments of customers you are targeting, what ‘the job of your product is’ in your customer’s minds (the need your products are solving), and what value they provide. I get a sense however that you may need 'company credibility' and "brand influence' in the marketplace as you begin your business, so a basic informational website likely makes sense for you. (when a customer buys, they research the company that the product is coming from to gauge if: they are an established business and successful; don’t have many customer service issues; etc… this feeds into the perceived quality factor that customers make purchases on… there are other factors too, which could be product category, or emotional needs). How much marketing capability you build into your website and its functionality (like SEO) however, depends on specific questions tied to: who your customers are; how exactly they buy; where (what channels) they will learn about you; whether or not you're also targeting distributors, and the conditions of the retail channel, etc... For most early Start-up companies, a web site makes sense (particularly if there is no product/technology intellectual property information that may be compromised). For most start-up companies however, advertising versus using social media or public relations is not necessarily the right answer to begin building a brand. (Advertising is typically used at a medium or late intersection for brand awareness continuation, not to begin brand awareness. The exception would be using banner or pay per click advertising in conjunction to social media – where the two of them work better together versus just using each singularly). I would strongly advise you to talk with a marketing brand agency before you choose which tactics to use for your target customers and audience. You need to understand how target customers buy your type of products (“the buyer's journey”) before deciding how to invest your marketing budget on particular tactics, and how much to spend where and when. The question you need to ask yourself (in regard to SEO) is, "Do my customers search for these types of products via Google, Bing or other internet browsers?" That question can be answered partly by looking at keyword searches and trending using Google Adwords (additional secondary market research information can also quantify how your products are purchased either via online or other more traditional channels). In addition, you should look at volumes of purchases based on product category online and on, and also look at competitors and their online/offline purchase channels. This is likely a lot of information for you to digest, but I’m giving you the soundest advice to ensure your business will be successful. You’ll also see that it may not be the best 1st step to work only with someone who is a SEO specialist, because it’s not common for that type of specialists to also know how to build and position a brand in a market. It’s the integrated point of view you need that only a marketing or brand (or maybe even a public relations) agency can give you. If you’d like to connect, I can carve out some time to talk with you offline to lend some advice and provide clearer direction.

Chandrakant Sharma Entrepreneur

August 23rd, 2017

Well in my point of view , if you are running a small business you should not go first with seo just pick the another options available like e-mail marketing, social platforms etc.

But if you can afford a second person to handle SEO you can go with it.

And always stick to one option .

All the best

Prakash R.Lewis Co Founder and CTO, TargetWoman Online Publications,

August 24th, 2017

It is not too hard to find someone who is specialized in SEO and digital advertising from around the globe. Problem is to find whether the person/agency you find is really trustworthy and know what they are talking about.

I have seen cases where many people belonging to the European Hospitality domain find small agencies who do Search Engine Optimization on different European languages, different technologies and consistently provided measurable results for years.

The point here is hire someone/agency with good track records. They must be conversant with the changing algorithm of the search engines, be familiar with different technologies and be available to answer your queries wherever they are.

Leave the SEO/marketing to someone who is specialized in that job and concentrate on what you do best - running your business.

Jonathan Leung

August 24th, 2017

Hi John,

I think it would depend on the current state that you are in. This is a very sticky situation since there are extreme pros and cons to both scenarios. I was a former partner (7.5 years) at a digital marketing agency that specialized in SEO and SEM for small businesses. I am currently doing freelance digital consultant for small businesses and startup such as your and would love to give you advice if you'd like. I can also give you tips to vet SEO/SEM companies and potential partners. This advice is free of course since you I believe knowledge helps our overall economy.

Here is my Linkedin if you are interested: