It’s difficult to keep count of the vast array of potential marketing suppliers your business could work with. From marketing consultants, agencies, social media managers, or some self-styled guru… there’s no end of people offering to take your marketing problems away.
But when is it right to keep marketing in-house, and when would your business be better off out-sourcing to an expert?
To answer the question, you’ve first got to ask what it is you’re thinking of out-sourcing. So, let’s break it down into some key elements to consider when, or if, it’s something your business should do itself or give to somebody else.
Strategy & Planning: Working out the “what” and the “why” of your marketing plan
To get the most from your marketing you’ll need a clear and structured strategic and tactical plan. The very best person to put this together for you is an experienced marketing strategist. They’re likely to have upwards of 10 years marketing experience at director level.
Critically, they will have a deep understanding of how marketing supports the end-to-end buying decision. These people are analytical, able to structure and review data and research findings. They’re also creative, and are able to get to the key messages that work for your business.
If you were to take someone like this on full time, in-house, you’re definitely well into the higher-band tax bracket. Having this person in-house can be a major asset, but if they operate as an external resource – either an independent marketing consultant or a planner in an agency – your business will definitely benefit from the variety of clients they work with. It will bring new ideas, and a level of objectivity.
The best set-ups I’ve seen often have a relationship with a strategic marketing consultant to help them plan the year out, and then review and re-plan at key intervals, like a quarterly review and monthly check-in.
Marketing Management: Making it happen on brief, on time, and on budget
Here you’re looking for an experienced pair of hands. Someone who has proven their ability to manage deadlines, budgets, suppliers, and people.
So, core project management skills, but in a marketing context. You’re looking for someone who can write a creative brief, manage creative suppliers, understand marketing technologies, handle marketing data, proof-read copy, etc. These skills only really come with experience.
You typically need one of these sorts of people full time for about every £150k of marketing budget. Upwards of that level of spending, you’re almost always better getting this key person in-house.
In smaller businesses, this role is often very well suited to a part-time team member, or a retained relationship with an independent marketing consultant.
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