When should you outsource your marketing?

Marketing Execution: Day-to-day administrative tasks

Then, there’s the doing. You know… updating your website, scheduling social media, bits of copy, sending emails… the stuff that takes time and just has to happen. A marketing administrator or exec is a really useful person. And, once you have good one, you’ll wonder how you ever functioned without them.

This is a role often really well suited to a recent graduate, or even an intern. If you can afford one, I’d say go for it. But, with a note of caution… they need very careful management. A fresh-faced grad left fully in charge of your marketing effort can do a lot of damage. And, with a time lag between marketing effort and sales results, it can often take a little time for this to show itself. Even a marketing graduate will need clear guidance and support from an experienced marketer to grow into their potential. 

The other option for this one is to work with one of the ever-growing number of virtual assistants or social media assistants. Or, many marketing consultants, and agencies offer this sort of assistance.

Specialists: Depth of knowledge in a particular specialism

The people I’ve described above are marketing generalists. They should get the bigger picture, seeing the end-to-end buying decision, and managing an integrated set of marketing tools and techniques across your whole plan. 

You will definitely do well to supplement this with specialists who really know their stuff in specific areas. For example, copywriters, designers, web developers, public relations people, etc. But, these people are only ever as good as the brief they’re given. Getting brilliant work from talented people means giving them a clear idea of what you need.

Why marketing outsourcing goes wrong

Where most businesses, particularly smaller businesses, get their fingers burned is in getting a consultant or supplier who is great at marketing management to try to give them strategic advice, or in getting a smart young graduate to deliver their marketing plan. In both circumstances, you’re likely to waste money, become very frustrated, or even seriously damage your business.

A good marketing manager might have a go at strategy only to send you off in the wrong direction, missing market opportunities. They might produce a brilliant campaign – but are you targeting the right people? And, the smart grad? 

If you’re getting someone to do things for you for the first time, you are unnecessarily elongating the process – it may cost you more in terms of day rate to get an experienced pair of hands – but it is likely to get delivered quicker and with fewer costly mistakes on the way.

The very best way to overcome these frustrations is for the MD to get marketing savvy. It is often only when the leaders of a business have a clear idea of how marketing supports their business goals, and is broadly able to map marketing against the sales process that marketing is really able to do its job. Which is, delivering long-term sales results.

I’ll end with a quote from Red Adair that captures what I mean superbly: “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

Bryony Thomas is the creator of the Watertight Marketing methodology, captured in her 5-star business book of the same name.

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