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Outsource marketing considerations: when should you outsource?


Marketing can be a complex, time-consuming and expensive part of the business. You may think that all marketing involves is social media and making images, but actually there are a lot of different elements involved in making that perfect marketing plan for your business. If you don’t currently have a marketing team you may want to look into whether you can outsource marketing — or at least some elements of it – it will save you the time, stress and also bring in more followers and customers to your business.

Outsource marketing: what can you outsource?

Lead generation

If you are looking into using different marketing companies for your business start first with finding reviews online. Having that to fall back on will give you peace of mind when you come to choose a company.

Lead generation is a part of marketing which takes a lot of time out of your day. It involves finding new customers for your business and increasing the relationship you have with your current customers too. Here are some elements of lead generation you could outsource:

  • Verifying Contact Information
  • Qualifying Leads
  • Booking Appointments

Outsource marketing PPC Campaigns

When you set up a PPC campaign with a site such as Adwords, you may think that all you need to do is set off the campaign, wait for it to run and then take a look at the results, but there is actually a lot more work which goes into the process. You will want to be monitoring the campaign as it goes so that you can see whether or not it is wasting your time and money. If you don’t have the time or ability to be monitoring campaigns like this constantly, then you may want to instead leave it to a company.

Outsource marketing SEO

SEO is a complex part of marketing which many companies will decide to outsource. Unless you have someone in the business who is qualified and has the knowledge in this field, you may struggle to do it effectively yourself. SEO involves working with your computer’s code, creating reports and running audits. It can be a full time job in itself. When hiring, be sure to consider the SEO interview checklist.

Outsource marketing social media

Social media is one of the more creative sides of marketing, but the key is to be social. You need to be able to dedicate the time to each of your social media accounts to create content, post it in interact with your audience. The best social accounts take the time to create content which fits the personality of the business and they take time to engage with the wider community. If you don’t feel as if you have the time to do this, you may want to outsource.

Content creation

If you want to get the best quality content for your company blog, then you will need to look into outsourcing this part of the business. The good thing is that great copywriters exist on every corner of the web and will be able to dedicate the time to creating engaging and informative content for your audience to enjoy.

Outsource marketing: B2C vs B2B

A fundamental distinction must be made here between B2C and B2B markets. In B2C markets, especially for manufacturers of branded goods, the marketing department is one of the company’s central departments, both in terms of responsibility and transferred competencies as well as in terms of importance for the entire business model. This is where the management of the brands and the product groups marked with them is responsible; there is often a close network with the research and development department as well as with production and thus a direct influence on the core services. Marketing is often the actual core service and competence of the company. In B2B markets, marketing is often focused on sales support and corporate branding. An influence on customer selection, product design, etc. is at most indirect. This distinction also tends to apply to service companies in the respective markets, but taking into account the particularities of the marketing of services. In particular, services that can be standardized (as opposed to highly individualized) in consumer goods markets are marketed like classic branded goods, so the importance of marketing is correspondingly high here.

Due to the high importance of marketing in B-to-C markets, there is therefore only little potential for outsourcing, here only individual areas appear to be able to be outsourced. For manufacturing companies and service providers in B-to-B markets, on the other hand, there are significantly more options for outsourcing large parts of marketing, which is why these companies are the focus here.

Identification of activities and processes to outsource marketing

As a rule, business activities are deemed to be able to be outsourced if they can be highly standardized and are not of direct strategic importance for the core business (see Fig. 1 ). In addition, the size of the outsourcing company is also relevant in this context. For many smaller medium-sized companies, it does not make economic sense (especially for reasons of capacity and know-how) to have a complete marketing department of their own. For such companies in particular, a focus on strategic coordination tasks and outsource marketing in functional areas can be useful.

The components of the strategic level, such as strategic brand management, positioning and brand controlling, must remain in the company, as they form a substantial part of the marketing strategy and thus the overall corporate strategy. Such questions must be assigned to the board of directors or the management. However, since these topics do not represent core competencies in most B-to-B companies, an at least advisory role by external experts is conceivable and sensible.

In the operational area (marketing conception, communication and service) there is a multitude of activities that are basically suitable for outsourcing, as they can be standardized as well as are of “supposedly” less strategic importance. In the next step, these individual functional areas must be checked to determine whether and how outsourcing should be implemented. This may lead to the result that not all marketing activities in the operational area can be outsourced and should therefore remain in the company.

Determination of the organizational structure of the outsourcing

The questions relevant in this context can be differentiated according to an internal and an external focus:

Internal Analysis:

  • Organizational embedding of the previous marketing department (cost or profit center already available)?
  • What do the department’s performance and cost structures look like?
  • Can individual activities be isolated and removed?
  • Do the internal services also have external marketing potential?
  • How could possible external interfaces be designed?
  • Will the previous marketing staff remain (other activities in the company, spin-off, termination, etc.)?

External Analysis:

  • Does an external market already exist for the activities that can be outsourced?
  • What does this external market look like (number of suppliers, prices, quality, etc.)?
  • How efficient and competent are the providers there?

Internal company optimization measures

The marketing department forms a profit center in the company and thus acts as a relatively independent unit in the company with responsibility for costs and revenues. Most companies already have a profit or cost center organization. Ultimately, this form is not outsourcing, as the profit center is still an integral part of the company.

Outsource marketing within the company
This describes the case when services are outsourced to an external organizational unit within the own company, ie within the own group of companies. There is a capital interdependence of the outsourcer and the company taking over the service (e.g. as a subsidiary or joint venture).

Outsource marketing outside the company

Outsourcing occurs when the company taking over the service is located outside the boundaries of its own company. The external procurement is carried out by a legally and economically independent company. This can also be a spin-off, ie a new company is founded as part of the outsourcing endeavors, which for example consists of the employees of the former marketing department.

There is no general answer to which of the forms described is best suited to outsource marketing . In principle, the company-specific situation must always be taken into account. A key factor here is the know-how of the company taking over the service. The principle applies: “Only those who understand the company’s business can do successful marketing.” This necessary industry know-how, which is particularly relevant for the technical and advice-intensive business-to-business markets considered here, is currently only available from a few external providers.

Companies willing to outsource marketing are often faced with the problem that they fear a loss of know-how due to complete outsourcing of marketing and, on the other hand, that there is pressure to act in terms of increasing the efficiency and professionalism of the marketing department. A joint venture or holding company (eg joint venture) with an external marketing service provider offers a solution here. Such a cooperation offers the advantage of maintaining existing marketing know-how as well as the increase in know-how and risk sharing by the external service provider. In this mostly temporary cooperation, a decision is made after the contract period has expired whether to outsource completely or to choose another alternative course of action. In summary, there are the following advantages to outsource marketing :

  • Securing know-how and network access
  • Avoidance of layoffs
  • Transparency of the services received
  • Change of mentality among employees
  • Efficient use of the marketing budget
  • Clear task and performance boundaries
  • Professionalization of the customer-service provider relationship
  • Better performance control of marketing services
  • Higher commitment of the marketing service provider
  • Know-how increase through third-party business of the marketing service provider
  • New development prospects for the marketing staff

In particular, the resulting transparency of the individual services, combined with the more efficient handling of the marketing budget, can be described as a major advantage. In addition, the control of an external company is often significantly less complex than comparable internal departments due to the precisely regulated service relationships.

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