Marketing is vital to continually build your business but is it one of the first things you sideline when a client issue or financial situation arises, or perhaps when there is a chink in the supply chain or a staffing problem?
Marketing is just one of the many, many balls business owners juggle. When your business gets to a certain size, however, achieving the golden rule of marketing consistency can be demanding without bringing in additional resource.
So, when you reach that point, should you insource or outsource your marketing?
If you are reading this then you have probably recognised two things:
- You can’t grow a business without good marketing.
- It takes time and resource, things you don’t always have a lot of.
A lot of business owners are able to manage their marketing perfectly well in the early years by utilising the resource and skill they have in-house, i.e. their own time and experience. Then one day they start to feel the pinch on their time from too many demands from too many areas of the business and find they aren’t really keeping up with new marketing developments or capitalising on opportunities as quickly as they would like. It is then that they start to wonder how else they can continue to progressively market their business and build their brand while simultaneously freeing up more of their time. In the broadest sense there are really two possibilities: insource the necessary skill and time (recruit an employee), or outsource it (employ an agency or consultant). Both of which are feasible options. Both of which have similar concerns for many people. Can someone else really understand my business well enough to do a good job? Can I trust someone else to take as much care and attention as I would? Can I justify the cost? In answer to just those questions, yes, you can find good people with business acumen as well as marketing knowledge; yes, you can find good people whose standards will equal your own; and yes; the cost is often very justifiable if you really calculate what your time is worth comparatively. You may have to look hard for the right support and probably be patient until you do but it is out there. So, the other big question still remains: insource or outsource?
Some reasons to insource:
- You have reached the size where you have a full-time marketing requirement at a consistent skill level.
Some reasons to outsource:
- You need a specialised skill but only on a periodic basis.
- You want to have access to a wide range of experience and knowledge.
- You need someone who can manage and direct the marketing element but not on a full-time basis.
- You need more than one level of marketing support – director, manager and administrator but none on a full-time basis.
For most businesses thinking about adding marketing support for the first time, it is unlikely that bringing an in-house marketing employee on board will deliver the right skill mix or be the most cost-effective option. And while you should never really go into a relationship thinking about how to get out of it, considering your exit options can be prudent. An agency may be a good way to get started and test the water before jumping in with both feet. Deciding to conclude an agency relationship is relatively straight forward compared with the legal obligations you would have with an employee if you decide you need to review your requirements after a period of time.
Marketing agencies, today more than ever, have become more flexible and cost effective. Some of the more forward thinking and versatile agencies have adopted a ‘virtual team’ business model. This essentially means having a smaller core team with one or two specialisms and bringing in selected partners when additional expertise is required. It keeps their overheads down which can (and should!) be reflected in your charges, while giving you access to everything marketing related you are ever likely to need under one roof and avoiding the ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ issue.
When you need to bring in marketing support, decide what would really help you most, shop around and closely scrutinise the options. It is a buyers’ market at the moment and you should not have to settle for less than the right solution and the very best service.