Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Hire a Creative Consultant
Intimatology founders break down three phrases they hear most often about hiring a creative agency.
If you are a business owner you’ve likely thought, “I can’t afford that,” or “I don’t have the time,” at one point or another. Creative consultants Erin and Rich Harris, founders of Intimatology, have heard those lines before. Prior to starting their business they worked together as part of the in-house creative team for a large company. “That’s how we got the idea for our business,” says Rich. “We thought smaller companies could benefit from the same services, but not all year round.”
In 2012 Intimatology set out to deliver their large-scale creative services to small businesses in a more digestible, affordable way. We caught up with the couple to discuss three of the industry’s most common misconceptions about working with an outside creative consultant. Read on to hear more about how Intimatology works for you.
I can’t afford that!
“The big challenge for small businesses is that they think something is not affordable to them so they don’t even ask,” says Erin. By not starting the conversation about creative services many business owners are missing out on the ideal opportunity to build their brands and marketing department in a way that works for them.
Above: Champagne Corsets, one of Intimatology’s latest clients. Photo by Christine Petit.
When someone asks Rich how much it costs to build a website he responds by asking how much they would like to spend. “Depending on what they can afford we can help them achieve something in their budget,” he says.
That being said, your marketing budget should be a priority. “That’s what is going to grow your business,” Rich adds. Many of the elements involved in a great marketing campaign, like social media management, take time. “Don’t just think you can do a quick tutorial,” he says. “It takes patience and consistency to make it look nice. How do you keep readers engaged and followers following you? Creative services are not always cheap, but it’s not something that can easily be done on your own either.”
Intimatology’s Solution: Start off small and work in stages. “If you can afford a website and not much else let’s do that and make you some money,” he says. From there the Harris’ can invest more into social media, and so on. Carol Stella, owner of Champagne Corsets and Designs in Prospect, CT, had just moved and was making some huge changes to her business. When she first reached out to Intimatology she wasn’t sure where to start with all of the company’s services. So they started out with a new logo and business cards. “Then we did a new website from scratch,” she says. “Next we’re working on some SEO.”
I can find someone cheaper!
There are plenty of options for creative services out there, including brand specialists, public relations consultants and social media experts. Hiring one may be cheaper, but not in the long run, warns Rich. “People don’t often know the difference between a PR consultant and a creative agency,” says Rich. “Often a PR consultant can be more money because you are paying someone in the middle to manage someone else. At Intimatology we don’t just create a strategy but we create the content, too.”
Just some of their services include web design, photography and photo retouching. And the Harris’ boast their level of service far exceeds that of any middle man out there. “We never compromise on quality or customer satisfaction. Both are top priorities for us,” Erin says. “The other guy might charge you extra fees to get things right.”
Intimatology’s Tip: Find an expert to help you. Keep in mind that Erin and Rich have a background in the intimate apparel industry, which not many consultants share. “We know how an ecommerce site for intimate apparel works,” says Erin.
After interviewing several web designers in her area Stella reached out to Intimatology and found right away that they understood best how to relay her vision. “The business need that they fulfilled was helping to deliver my message to the world that everyone should own a custom corset,” she says.
Where do I start?
At first, planning a marketing strategy can be overwhelming, especially if you can’t do everything all at once. Stella says she often gets too excited about new projects that she’s likely not ready for. “Erin and Rich guide me as to what path I should take,” says Stella. “This isn’t my forte. If I get ahead of myself and talk about a project they will say let’s work towards this, but do this first instead.”
It all depends on your target customer, Erin adds. “Social media is definitely high up there.” She recently worked with a designer who was in the beginning phases on launching her business. “She only had a business concept,” she says. “We talked to her about social media being an early strategy for her so she can start to tell her story and create buzz.”
To better hone in on your target audience Erin and Rich like to run an exploratory marketing campaign. “We allocate budgets to each channel for a few months,” says Rich. “Then we will begin to funnel your investment into the channels that give you the most return so in the end you’re only spending your money on the most effective areas.”
Intimatology’s advice: Everyone has this misconception that they should be everywhere,” says Erin. “Smaller businesses don’t have the time or the budget to dedicate to that.” They both agree it’s better to have good strong content in one or two places than to do a bad job everywhere. Take the time to narrow down your target audience and focus your marketing efforts on the most profitable strategies.