Can You Outsource all of Marketing?
I wrote a post of the same title a couple of years ago. It's been almost three years since I started my freelance business, and I thought I'd update it with what I have learned.
There are marketing agencies that provide general services and can provide soup to nuts marketing services. Many of them augment their in-house capabilities by leveraging specialists like me.
For many companies, especially those where most of the executives are engineers (or doctors, lawyers, or whatever speciality required no marketing/business classes), it's tempting to go down this route. For the most part, it can be a success, but there are a few caveats.
Choose a vendor that understands your business. Two years ago, I suggested that it helps to have someone who does not need to be trained on your industry. It's hard to argue with that, but it can be tough to find.
If you can't find a specific vendor that has ever marketed your particular type of widget, at least look for someone with experience in the level of product or service you offer. For example, I leave business to consumer marketing to others. (I may be one of the few marketers I know who would rather watch the game than the superbowl commercials.) My focus is on B2B, and the more technical, the better. I have friends who are great consumer marketers, but they'd freeze if you put them in a room full of engineers.
Experience matters. We hear about this happening all the time in business consulting. The firm convinces the client that they have vast amounts of experience in the business but once the contract is signed, all the client sees is junior level people.
Of course, this helps the agency keep their costs down and, presumably, keep their fees low. However, it can raise the handholding you need to do. Ask to meet or at least talk to the people who will be assigned to your account.
Keep someone on staff and accountable. Even if you outsource all of your marketing, the agency will need someone to be their main contact in-house. This individual can be instrumental in helping the agency understand the priorities of the company and develop the right contacts with subject matter experts, executives, and salespeople.
Having someone on staff with a marketing title, preferably someone with some credibility within the organization, can be important to project success. They can also help you keep tabs on how well your marketing budget is being invested.
I'd love to hear from you. How much of your marketing have you outsourced? What components? Are there pieces that you feel absolutely need to remain in-house?
All the best!
Posted by Melissa Paulik