by Carro Ford
How Many Hats Can One Marketer Wear?
The days of having one, two, or even three marketers on staff and feeling like your bases are covered may be gone. The exciting new reality is that marketing disciplines have evolved beyond what many marketers will admit they can learn, implement, and manage. We have new platforms, new technologies, new apps, new software, and the advanced use of data. We’re seeing no slowdown in mobile, augmented, digital, Internet, social, print, and even virtual marketing technology. Every day across the globe, communication and engagement ideas are being developed into apps and software platforms at an unprecedented rate. They may not all be in it for the long haul (e.g., Twitter’s recent shutdown of Vine), but part of demystifying marketing is trying to figure out which new disciplines and technologies will be effective and should be included in your own marketing strategy and how you’ll execute on them.
The flip side of this exciting new reality is this—an overloaded marketing group or solo marketer with little time to take on more initiatives or learn new skills. You fall behind on techniques and updates. You can’t thoroughly research new strategies and opportunities. And the resulting scenario is that attention is divided across your marketing initiatives, with limited effectiveness and frequent fire drills. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to consider outsourcing certain marketing tasks.
Outsourcing opens immediate doors for skills, platforms, and programs you can’t easily ramp up internally. Whether it’s testing new channels with less risk, improving your content strategy, or implementing an email marketing campaign, partnering with a professional can deliver immediate and better results.
Going Hybrid: Fuel Marketing Success with the Right Outsourcing Formula
“You don’t always have to choose between all-internal marketing or all-external marketing,” says Jayson DeMers, contributing writer to Forbes. “In fact, hybrid marketing strategies are becoming more and more common, especially in small- to medium-sized growing companies. And while a small- or mid-size business might not justify a full-service agency, many good boutique firms and freelancers are readily available.”
In a recent Hoover’s study, it was revealed that an estimated 44 percent of small- to medium-sized B2C companies are now outsourcing part of their marketing tasks in an effort to gain outside expertise. Still, it’s a big decision to outsource even one function. You may feel you’re losing control, that your boss may question your performance, or that the cost cannot be justified. Think again. Today, you can find every level of marketing assistance, including virtual marketing assistants! A wide array of talent and services can be found that can fit within every budget and complement any marketing team, filling gaps in areas where skills are lacking or where time constraints limit productivity.
Kay Kienast, head of marketing operations for GE Power Digital, has led hybrid marketing teams at a variety of technology firms and frequently outsources. “If you choose the right partner, you may get to market with good results faster,” she notes. “I’ve found marketing outsource partners mostly through word of mouth from other marketers whom I trust and who’ve successfully used the people they recommend.”
Who Gets Your Business?
Only you can decide if outsourcing is right for your organization. Nobody knows your company, product, or services as well as you do, and there is always a learning curve with any new partnership. Start with an assessment of your workload. Ask your marketing team how they spend their time, how those tasks rank for value to the business, and their level of expertise in each task. Going through this exercise identifies where your time is being spent versus where it would best be spent. It may make sense to outsource simple tasks such as scheduling your posts across your social platforms or entering data into databases. Outsourced marketing has traditionally been thought of in terms of big-ticket items such as SEO and link building, telemarketing, or lead generation. While these are commonly outsourced services, clearing your plate of smaller, nontraditional marketing admin tasks can return valuable time to your day as well.
In addition, Kienast suggests working with a partner who:
- Supports your work hours and is available for emergencies.
- Has sufficient technical talent to assess and correct issues between systems.
- Can hone reports to correspond with your key performance indicators daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly.
- Wants your business and works to improve it. “Remember, it never goes right for the first few months,” she adds.
At some point, you’ll need to justify the expense, so ask for proposals showing what the outsourcing would look like, cost breakdowns, expected outcomes, goals, and success milestones.
Keep an open mind about outsourcing. You might find it offers the space you need to grow and the edge you need to compete. Lack of marketing bandwidth turns serious when the missing skills are critical to a revenue-generating initiative or a new market opportunity. Then it’s not just about an overloaded team. It’s about loss of customers and revenue. However you look at it, outsourcing can be an important strategy for marketers.