To outsource or not to outsource? This is a question many businesses and their marketing departments repeatedly ask in this age of digital transformation as outsourcing becomes more common due to advances in technology and communication. But is it worth it? Cost-effective? Will it compromise quality? And if we do outsource our content marketing, then who do we choose? How do we identify the good from the bad to the downright horrible?
Lots of questions and all legitimate concerns which we will explore. Firstly, it is important to know that outsourcing your marketing does not have to involve such black and white thinking. The best marketing agencies are available to call upon as you need them, ensuring you are only paying for specific tasks as you need them. As a result, you avoid handing over complete control of your marketing or locking yourself into a lengthy set-contract.
The fact is, in today's digital transformation, most companies don't have the resources in-house to run every area of business. Marketing is a monumental task for any organisation and managers need a hand to get things done. Most know that a good strategy involves outsourcing some marketing tasks; however, knowing when it is appropriate to outsource and how to select the best agency is the challenging part. In this post, we aim to help you find the best marketing partner and set you up for outsourcing success.
How to know when to outsource
One of the first things to look at here is your workload. If you have an internal marketing team, how are they coping? Are they feeling overworked? Are lead-generation campaigns delivered on deadline? Are we keeping up with content calendars? Communication is vital here. Sit down with them and ask them how they are handling the workload. If they are feeling pressured, rushed or stressed, then the quality of the work delivered probably isn't as good as it should be. You want to keep your team happy and engaged to do their best work. Therefore, it may be advantageous to take some load off their shoulders and outsource some tasks.
Another essential factor to consider is that if you are like most internal marketing departments and only have a manager and just a few (or even only one) junior marketers; then there are a lot of skills to cover. Some of which include:
Basic B2C & B2B marketing
Graphic design (Adobe Photoshop, InDesign & Illustrator)
Basic video production (including editing skills)
EDM's (Most likely MailChimp)
Social media (Facebook ads, LinkedIn Ads, Instagram, Twitter, etc)
Social marketing software (Hootsuite, Schedulegram, Hubspot)
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Basic CRM skills (WordPress, Square, Wix, etc)
Okay, I don't know about you, but I feel exhausted just reading through that list! It's easy to see why so many digital marketers feel overwhelmed. Moreover, while it's great to have someone capable of doing all of the above, it's highly unlikely they are awesome at doing it all. However, if you do know someone that is, please send them our way!
Isn't it better to have your team focus on the tasks they are great at, and outsource the rest? Marketing is about quality, not quantity. Once you put an article or video up it can work its magic indefinitely, so wouldn't you want to get it right the first time? This is where outsourcing makes the most sense. Let a professional make your killer social media marketing video that's guaranteed to get clicks, or an expert SEO copywriter write you an article that turns up on the search engine results and brings traffic to your website.
Even sizable B2B marketing teams still need external support, mostly with online advertising, graphics, writing, video and retargeting campaigns. Generally, whatever skills the team either isn't proficient in or doesn't have time to do it justice, great business leadership outsources it to someone who is and does.
At the end of the day, are you less than thrilled with your current marketing efforts? How's your ROI? Do you even have the time to measure your marketing ROI? If the answer is no, then it could be a good sign that it's time to outsource some marketing.
How to choose a marketing outsourcing agency
Once you've realised it's best to outsource, your next task will be to choose an agency that's right for you. I repeat, choose an agency that's right for you. This is crucial. You should choose as if they are going to be a part of your organisation. Treat it like a job interview because that is exactly what they will be doing - jobs for you.
When researching different marketing outsourcing agencies, there are a few things you should do. Here is a checklist:
1.Check out their website
A company's website is like the digital home of their business. Just like as you can tell a lot about a person or family by the contents of their home, you can also tell a lot about an organisation by the content of their website. Look at their website's design, UX, functionality, aesthetics and the quality of content. Are there spelling, grammar or formatting mistakes? Does the video load properly and explain things in simple terms? Is the website well-optimised for phone, tablet, and a laptop? Keep an eye out for red flags as these can be a tell-tale sign of the general functionality of their organisation. The idea being; an outsourced marketing company will never do a better job than their own marketing content. If their own website, graphics, and content marketing don't impress you much, then find someone who does. Remember, you want to find someone who's branding, writing and content compel you to engage and take action because that's exactly what you'll be paying them to do!
2. Is this agency transparent about any outsourcing they do?
Yes, that's right. Marketing outsourcing agencies outsource some of their work too, which isn't such a bad thing for some tasks, as long as they are transparent about it. You have a right to know precisely what is outsourced by the agency. Moreover, you are entitled to have the contact info of anyone else involved in your work.
So, ask the prospective agency the names of all persons involved in your company's marketing. Make sure you know what they plan to do, and how much each of the items should cost. Great marketing outsourcing agencies have nothing to hide and will provide this information without you having to ask. Either way, it's best to choose a transparent firm. It is one of the biggest mistakes businesses make when outsourcing and one which you can easily avoid.
3. Do they have dedicated personnel and resources?
Continuing from the rule of transparency, you'll want to get a sense of the amount of dedicated personnel and resources that they can utilise for your project. Are their workers' specialists in each component of your delivery? To reference the extensive skill list again, do they have dedicated social media guru through to a qualified graphic designer and a talented writer? Or do they have a similar Jack of all trades, master of none (or some), arrangement? If the answer is the latter, you may as well keep it in-house.
With specialists in each area, not only will the quality of work be significantly higher, you can expect the time taken to complete various marketing tasks to be much quicker than the Jack of all trades who is attempting to do it all.
4. Do they "get" you?
An outsourced marketing company should crystal clear understanding of who you are and what you do. Okay, prospective agencies won't know straight away; however, they should demonstrate a laser-like focus to know about every aspect of their brand and company personality.
Much like an actor takes a walk in the shoes of their character, an outsourced marketing company should do much the same with your business. They need to live and breathe it. Does your business have a brand style-guide? If so, your outsourcing marketing agency should ask for a copy. If not, we advise you to create one as your outsourcing company should have a copy!
The secret to successful outsourcing is to work with a marketing agency that has a granular understanding of your company's brand personality, content marketing style, as well as industry and competition.
5. Social proof
Social proof refers to testimonials, reviews, word of mouth, anything that is proof that a business delivers on its promise. Whilst carrying out your research on prospective outsourcing marketing companies, if you can't find any reviews or there are no qualified testimonials on their website, ask the agency to provide a list of clients you could talk to. This shouldn't be a problem. If there is no social proof available, consider it a red flag.
Outsourced marketing solutions: Finding a keeper
By carefully researching and evaluating, you can be smart about who you hire your B2C or B2B marketing partner. In doing so, you're likely to set yourself up for outsourcing success.
It's all about the relationship. Develop a solid relationship with a quality company, and they'll become a part of your brand to help you produce quality marketing materials.
Collaboration is essential here. Are they looking to work with you in the marketing process? If you have a vision with specific ideas for your marketing, you'll want an outsourced marketing agency who's willing to work with you as a business partner. You should be able to treat the marketing company as an extension of your team.
Like any relationship, business or personal, communication is the key success factor.
If you do find yourselves challenged with time and/or quality of your marketing strategy or are looking for an outsourced partner, feel free to get in touch to discuss how we can work with you to find the right solution.