Most companies try to keep their work internal, hiring new employees to fill specialized positions, such as marketing management, rather than outsourcing work. This approach is advantageous in many ways, since it allows companies to keep tight control over their flow of work, and in some cases, it keeps costs minimal. But internalizing all of your company’s processes doesn’t always pay off. Since specialized marketing firms staff several niche employees with varying realms of expertise and have a much wider range of capabilities than non-specializing companies, in many cases they can perform more efficient work for a lower overall cost.
Realizing this, a problem arises: how can you tell when it’s more efficient to hire your own staff to devise and carry out your marketing strategies, and when it’s more efficient to outsource the work?
Take a look at these seven strong cues that indicate it’s time to start outsourcing your marketing:
Your marketing campaign isn’t the only factor responsible for encouraging revenue growth, but if you do find your revenue to be growing slower than usual or slower than you’d like, it could be time to outsource at least some of your marketing efforts. Most marketing agencies measure their success in terms of ROI. Essentially, they’ll be able to link their efforts to a specific amount of new revenue, giving you a firm, objective insight into how much extra revenue you’re generating per your outsourced marketing spend. If you aren’t already measuring this, or if you have no way of determining how much revenue impact your marketing campaign is having, it’s a good idea to enlist the help of an outside agency.
Similarly, if you do measure this and you find that your revenue isn’t growing as fast as your marketing spend, it could be an indication that it’s time to seek outside assistance.
This is common, especially for small firms with only a handful of marketing employees. If you have more than 150 hours of marketing work that needs to be done every week and only three people to handle it all, it could be time to use an outside firm to help reduce the workload—especially if you can’t currently afford to hire another full-time employee.
In this scenario, it’s beneficial to enlist the assistance of a marketing firm for a finite number of tasks, rather than a blanket strategy or multi-channel campaign. If you aren’t sure whether your employees are overworked or not, ask them directly. Most employees are observant and reasonable enough to realize when their workloads are starting to become too heavy to be viable in the long term.
No matter what, you’re going to encounter periods of high stress and high workloads, but if you find that you’re always running behind on your projects and campaigns, you should look to an outsourced form of marketing help. For example, if you find that all your projects get pushed to the last second, forcing you up against tight deadlines on a consistent basis, an outside marketing firm might be able to alleviate that pressure.
If you’re falling behind on your deadlines, that also means you don’t have time to stay ahead of the curve. Marketing, especially digital marketing, is always changing, and the most successful marketing campaigns are the ones ahead of the major trends. If you can’t afford to spend the time to research the up and coming strategies, you could be losing out on some major opportunities. A specialized firm could do all that work for you, and give you advice on the best strategies to engage in.
Proper marketing requires time and thought, two things busy marketers don’t always have time for. Ideally, each campaign would start out with a brainstorming session, coupled with objective market research and evidence of results from similar campaigns. Then, it would be created, and refined in an iterative process that eventually yields the best finished product. Then, after a series of tests, it’s rolled out gradually and carefully measured.
This ideal scenario doesn’t exist for many. If you find yourself forgoing all these steps and just slapping all your materials together in an improvised solution, you can be sure that you aren’t getting the most out of your budget. Too many of these last-minute strategy sessions can compromise your reputation in addition to wasting your budget—so get the help of a marketing agency so you can have the time and resources to orchestrate a campaign properly.
Do you find yourself using the same marketing channels over and over again? It’s a trap that many marketers fall into. Old-school industries, like manufacturing, often end up focusing only on printed advertisements, while newer tech startups tend to focus heavily on free or cheap online strategies, like social media marketing. These might be the best uses of resources, but new options are always arising, and if you don’t have the expertise to explore them, you could be missing out.
Specialized marketing firms usually have a broader range of experience, so you can rely on them to help direct you to the best channels, or at least possibilities for new channels in addition to your traditional strategies.
Speaking of strategy, how often do you find yourself able to step back from your daily task list and contemplate the ways you can improve your company’s overall direction? Not often, if you’re so overwhelmed with individual tasks that you never have the time. If you fall into this category, leaning on the shoulder of an outside firm could help you rediscover your greater vision. You can’t make your campaign better if all you ever do is knock out low-level tasks—let your marketing firm handle it so you can come up with new ideas for your campaign.
Finally, if you’re flat-out disappointed with the marketing results you’ve been getting, you might as well try your campaign in the hands of an experienced firm. If you’re already losing ground, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. And, if after a few months you still aren’t seeing the results you want, it’s usually easier to get out of a marketing program than it is firing a full-time employee (especially for a small business). So if you’re unsatisfied with your marketing efforts—for any reason—why not give an outside firm a shot?
You don’t always have to choose between all-internal marketing or all-external marketing. In fact, hybrid marketing strategies are becoming more and more common, especially in small-but-growing companies. If you notice your company demonstrating some of the previous signs, you can start outsourcing small portions of your marketing efforts to an outside firm. If you find yourself greatly struggling, or struggling more after a period of time, you can escalate your outsourced efforts, or find a firm to manage your marketing needs.
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