Should you outsource your marketing?

Should you outsource your marketing?

On the surface it seems like such a simple question. But scratch just underneath and you’ll discover the reality can be much more complicated. So let’s examine the question about handing off your marketing to someone other than yourself.

You should always be involved and in the lead

First, let’s agree no matter if you’re personally handling your marketing or if you’re outsourcing all or parts of it – you should always be at the helm. You should be the navigator, even if you’re not actually flying the plane – you should still be choosing the overall destination.

It’s tough to do your own marketing

We can attest to this, as one of the hardest clients we have is ourselves. It’s difficult to remain impartial and to react to market forces in unbiased ways. It’s also far too easy to delay one’s own marketing when you’re busy doing tangible, payable work for clients. That is, if you’re busy, it’s tough to think about filling the pipeline when you’re scrambling to simply fulfill orders.

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of running your business and to neglect growing it. Even when deadlines are known, often things get pushed to the very last minute when those things are for yourself. Few can honestly say they've never scrambled to create collateral or graphics in the days before a trade show, even though you knew you were exhibiting months in advance. It’s because these items weren’t a priority until they were critical.

Outsourcing can save money

Outsourcing your marketing can save you money in a few ways (when it’s handled correctly). First, you won’t have to increase your payroll by hiring additional staff. And you can contract for types of work you many only need occasionally, such as video creation or exhibit displays. Moreover, you can save time - where time equals money. Freeing yourself from having to implement your marketing allows you to concentrate on running your business. Basically, once your set your goals, you can work with an outside source to achieve them.

Similarly, outsourcing marketing is just like other activities you’ve deemed better done by others. Chances are, you buy raw materials from suppliers to produce your finished goods because you realize you can’t do it all - and it’s more efficient and cost-effective. Or perhaps you outsource warehousing or shipping. You recognize it’s better to contract these services where you can often allocate a steady budget to cover these functions and activities. It also allows you to competitively bid or to compare suppliers to balance cost against quality. Marketing is no different provided you’ve established your objectives and monitor and measure your results.

You also may lack the experience or knowledge to implement your own marketing. Not that you couldn’t learn as you go - and hopefully you wouldn’t make any expensive errors. But if you outsource your marketing - you can hold your “marketing partner” accountable. You can leverage their experience and knowledge across various industries and mediums to find the best solutions and to navigate the marketing world for you. You get to concentrate on the end results and generally don’t have to worry about the process. So there’s no learning curve and hopefully few, if any, missteps.

Of course it’s not all candy and roses

It’s not always a perfect union when you outsource services. You need to find the right partner that will work for you without breaking the budget. And you need to make sure they stay on course or adapt when necessary. You need good communication flowing and some type of measurement of results. Otherwise you’re simply hiring someones else to fly you around blindly.

A typical problem encountered with outsourcing is when, somewhere along the line, expectations don’t match the outcome and unhappiness grows. Blame can fall on either side, but it shouldn’t reach finger pointing; rather, if the relationship is working well, everyone will know what’s going on - good or bad - and be able and ready to change course if necessary.

Or costs can spiral out of control when project parameters are poorly communicated or schedules gets squeezed. Again, proper planning and communication can avoid most of these types of surprises.

Of course the most frequent issue is simply a lack of results. If you’re outsourcing your marketing, and sales aren’t increasing or your goals aren’t being achieved, don’t wish for change - make a change. This is much easier to do if you've outsourced your marketing - no layoffs or severance required.

Sometimes even an initially good fit can sour if teams change on either side. So keep in mind you’re always the navigator - you’re in control. I the results aren’t happening, either your marketing partner over promised or under delivered. Regardless, you need to change course – and this likely means changing the pilot or the plane – so you reach your expected destination.

So, should you outsource your marketing? Most of the time, if you don’t have an internal marketing department already, the answer is yes. If you do have staff, you can always outsource small projects or initiatives to inject new creative blood or ideas. But regardless, make sure you know where you want to go before you take off... and check frequently you’re on course so you reach your desired destination.

Sep 17, 2015

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