Apparently, 42% of UK businesses outsource their marketing. That doesn’t surprise me. Marketing is a multi-faceted practice – especially if you throw both traditional and digital marketing into the pot. It can cover everything from PR and events to SEO and PPC, and even vendor management if you’re a reseller. And then you have to throw in the high level stuff like strategy. It is very rare that you find a marketing person who can cover off multiple disciplines, and I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to find one who covers off all of them. Unless there’s some sort of marketing super robot I don’t know about. So, you either have to recruit one or two marketing people and then outsource the rest, or recruit a whole host of marketing people.
While we marketing people are certainly delightful to be around – recruiting a whole team of us to cover off multi disciplines can get expensive. Many businesses will find that outsourcing is more cost-effective – but that’s one for another time.
If you are outsourcing your marketing – whether that’s part of it or all of it – then there are a number of things you should think about before you do so.
Experience in your industry
Honestly, any good marketer worth their salt should be able to turn their hand to and apply their knowledge to a range of businesses, whether they’re familiar with the industry or not. But I’m not going to pretend that previous experience in the industry isn’t a serious advantage – particularly in B2B, where things can get super specific. Seems an obvious one really – if an agency has previous experience in your industry, whether that’s with other clients, or they’ve actually worked in the industry – then you go into the relationship with confidence that they know what strategies and tactics work best. Also, there should be a baseline of knowledge around your products and services there too.
Do bear in mind though, that agencies and professionals with experience of other industries might be able to bring a fresh perspective to yours – maybe shake up the status quo a little and get you to stand out. How much experience in your industry factors in will depend on the more general career experience of the agency and the team in question. As I said – the most seasoned marketers have a toolkit of skills that they can apply to any business. We’re quite a versatile lot – we have to learn to adapt to ever-changing technologies, tactics and methodologies, so we should be able to adapt to different industries too. We’re chameleons, like Madonna.
Beware of the fluff
I’ve covered this in more detail in a previous post – but it certainly bears repeating here. Unfortunately, as marketers we do have a predisposition towards the sensational – the best looking design, the nicest copy, the best email subject lines. But you need a marketing partner that’s grounded in reality. They need to be able to provide you with all the wow-factor stuff, but also deliver results. Avoid agencies who will not commit to timescales, objectives and numbers like the plague . They will try to blind you with pretty things and continue to take your money until you’re left wondering what you’re getting out of this relationship. I’m not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence, but we humans are emotional beings, and sometimes if we’re being shown something that absolutely knocks our socks off, all logic can go out of the window. Marketers know this – and some spurious ones will use this to try and put the blinders on you. Get down to brass tacks with these people – make them give you numbers and propose objectives – if they don’t commit, kindly thank them for their time and move on.
Are you a good fit?
Before this post gets too long and I start breaking out the Beyoncé GIFs, I’ll get to the point. I think this is one of the most important points you should consider when it comes to selecting an agency or partner to outsource your marketing to. As I’ve said, realistically, any top-class marketer should be able to a) turn their hand to most industries and b) commit to (and deliver) some kind of results. So that leaves you with whether or not you’re a good fit. I don’t just mean can you go and have a few drinks and a laugh together (although that does help). You need to ensure that the way you work, and the way your marketing partner works, mesh together well. If you like to be reactive and agile in your marketing, but the agency rigidly sticks to a plan they refuse to deviate from, then it’s not going to work. If your time and attention is in high demand, but if they can’t be proactive, use their common sense and make things easy for you, then it’s not going to work. An outsourced marketing team works best when they’re like an extension of your business – it should be effortless. Like Beyoncé (too late).
If you’re a B2B organisation looking to outsource any or all of your marketing – we can help. We’ve spent years on the client side carefully considering all of the above, enabling us to develop an approach that works. Let’s chat – we’ll see if we’re a good fit.