It’s probably fair to say that every business owner or nonprofit organization understands the importance of marketing. It’s probably also fair to say that too often marketing ends up at the bottom of the to-do list.
The good news? You can outsource many – if not all – of your marketing tasks. The question, of course, is when do you know it’s time to do that? Here are six things to consider:
1. Does your marketing suffer when you’re busy? OK, it’s probably true that most businesses aren’t as active in the marketing department when they’re super busy. But there’s a difference between having your marketing slow down a little and having it disappear altogether. The problem with the latter is that once your busy period is over, you often have to start from scratch and prime the marketing pump before it “gets going” again. If this is the case with your organization, it might make sense to outsource some tasks so that the marketing of your business continues even when you’re too busy to notice.
2. Are there certain aspects of marketing you hate or have absolutely no interest in learning? We might push back and say that it’s smart to understand the tenets of whatever marketing program your organization is implementing, but that doesn’t mean you need to be the one doing the implementation. If the thought of creating a twelve-month marketing “plan” or taking part in social media or writing press releases (and sending them and following up) leaves you shaking in your shoes, well, that’s a sign that it might make sense to outsource those tasks to someone else. Think about it this way: if you HATE doing something (such as putting together a monthly newsletter), it will likely take you two to three times as long to do the task…time that you could be putting toward the parts of your business that you do enjoy or that you need to do (such as selling, talking to customers, networking, paying employees).
3. Do you find you’re more of a “big picture” thinker? This is nothing to be ashamed of. Many business owners are, and it’s an essential trait for entrepreneurs who want to “get out there” and grow the business. But if that’s the case, who is going get down in the marketing trenches and do the work? Who is going to send the emails and draft the newsletters and manage the Facebook page and all those other myopic-minded, detail-oriented sorts of things that need to get done on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month basis? Exactly. Which means outsourcing probably makes sense.
4. Do you love marketing, but you’re looking for guidance to take it to the next level? Believe it or not, some business owners love the marketing piece. But unless you majored in marketing or you follow all the big industry names, like HubSpot, Marketing Profs, Copyblogger, etc., there’s probably a lot you don’t know…and don’t have time to learn. Outsourcing can make a lot of sense if you fall in this camp, because a good marketing firm can help fill in the gaps so that you organization stays ahead of the marketing curve.
5. Do you know you need marketing help, but you’re not in a position to hire a full-time marketing director? Outsourcing to a marketing firm can help solve this problem. You dictate your budget, and because you’re outsourcing, you don’t have to carry all the costs that come with hiring a full-time employee. At the same time, you get the expertise you’re looking for (and, often, a wider array of skills than one person would have to offer).
6. Have you been doing your own marketing, but you have no real strategy, plan, or way to measure results? In this case, outsourcing can make a huge difference because a professional marketing firm will make sure you’re leveraging your budget and that you’re measuring results so you can make informed decisions on future marketing tasks.
What to look for when talking to a marketing firm:
Find out how many people are involved with the firm. It’s fine if the firm itself is small (e.g. only owned by one or two people), but it’s important to know how strong the creative “stable” is: ask about copywriters, web developers, graphic designers, PR specialists, and social media specialists. These are all very different types of people—people a good firm should have access to.
Find out how the marketing firm bills work. Hours can add up fast. The best way to manage costs is to be transparent about your budget. Yes, what can be accomplished at a $500/month budget will vary greatly from a $5000/month budget. But the truth is that you can do marketing at both levels. By telling the firm what your budget is, the firm can tell you what to reasonably expect in the form of deliverables.
Ask for references and CALL THEM. We can’t emphasize this enough. Ask for references — they don’t necessarily need to be within your industry. Call the reference and ask the following questions:
- Does the firm stay within budget?
- What are the firm’s three biggest strengths?
- What are its weaknesses?
- What does the firm excel at?
- What would you like to see the firm do differently?
- Did the firm deliver value?
- Would you use them again?
Question: Do you outsource your marketing? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments. We want to hear them!