The benefits of outsourcing your marketing
Hi, I’m Tam Al-Saad, the in-house growth marketer at Webprofits. In a former life I worked client-side and hated the idea of outsourcing my marketing to an agency or consultancy.
In this video I’ll be sharing why I’ve changed my mind and some of the benefits that I previously overlooked.
The problem with outsourcing your marketing
For the first 10 years of my career, I managed the marketing and growth for start-up companies. I was approached by agencies all of the time but I hated the idea of someone outside of our organisation doing our marketing. I had a number of problems with agencies and consultancies.
- They always seemed to be focussing on the wrong metrics like impressions, clicks or traffic, when all I ever cared about was leads, sales and revenue growth.
- They would only allocate a portion of a full-time employee, whereas I would get a lot more time out of someone I hired to work internally.
- And lastly, they could never be as immersed in my business as much as an employee who sits in my office and understands our culture, product, problems, and strengths.
The industry has changed a lot since that time, and my understanding of the value that agencies and consultancies can bring has changed with it.
For starters, I think marketers and agencies have come a long way since then, and so they’re no longer chasing vanity metrics. They understand the challenges and goals of the businesses they work with and deliver work that aims to meet those goals. Well, the good ones definitely do anyway.
I’ve since come to realise that most businesses don’t need teams of full-time employees. A successful digital marketing strategy needs to span across multiple channels, but you don’t have to put the same time, budget and resources into each one.
If you hire specialists for each channel then some would probably spend a lot of time twiddling their thumbs and get very bored and unmotivated. The alternative is to hire people who manage multiple channels, but they end up not being as effective because they aren’t specialists.
And when it comes to being immersed in the business, there’s no denying that an employee can do this far better than an agency or consultancy, but you probably don’t need them to become quite so involved to be successful.
In fact, being so immersed into a business can work against you as your employees have little frame of reference for what good marketing or good results are in other businesses. It can also help a lot to see strategies for other businesses, and even other industries, that can be applied internally after a few tweaks and adjustments.
The problem with outsourcing your marketing
In the years that I’ve been working at Webprofits these thoughts have developed further but I’ve also come to realise 3 significant benefits to outsourcing your marketing that I hadn’t necessarily considered before working in a consultancy.
The first is that the people in agencies and consultancies are constantly developing and evolving their marketing skills. Most marketers will say that they stay up to date by reading industry blogs, watching videos, and downloading resources but few will do so as much as someone in an agency or consultancy.
Being surrounded by other marketers day in and day out means that you have the opportunity to learn from others first hand while they work on other campaigns. Plus we have internal slack channels where the best articles, videos and case studies are, not only shared, but discussed, so there is a deeper understanding of each topic.
I can’t stress enough how valuable it has been for me to have other experienced marketers around when I’m trying a new strategy or tactic. I’m able to ask the team if they have had any similar experiences with clients and then adapt their learnings to make sure that my campaigns and experiments are a success.
When I was previously the most senior person in marketing teams that option wasn’t available. I could ask for colleagues or managers opinions, but without the experience to back those opinions up they were just a best guess. The internet is full of people sharing their experiences but they can’t all be trusted, and there’s no substitute for discussing those experiences face to face rather than reading them off a screen.
As well as learning from other people, there’s the experience that comes from working on other clients. Working with bigger clients can help ensure that you set smaller client campaigns to scale effectively. On the other side of the coin, smaller clients can force you to learn hacks and shortcuts that can be applied on bigger clients.
Then there’s the benefit of applying strategies and tactics multiple times across clients, giving you the opportunity to learn each time, and understand the strategy or tactic much better.
Not only will these marketers upskill more effectively, but the good ones will also share what they learn with their clients to help them improve their marketing campaigns.
Access to tools & platforms
As well as access to experienced team members, marketing companies will have access to dozens of tools and platforms that most businesses won’t. For example, we spend more than $380,000 a year on these marketing tools which we can use on any of our client campaigns.
Unless you’re a fortune 500 company, $380,000 a year on martech is going to make a significant dent in your marketing budget so you’re likely to go without some of the tools that can really help. Agencies and consultancies will have these tools at their disposal, and they’ll have experience in how to use them, so they have far more options on how they can improve and optimise your campaigns to take your results to the next level.
As well as access to tools, marketing companies enjoy close relationships with the likes of Google, Facebook, HubSpot, Spotify, publishers and many other marketing brands. This means we’re able to leverage their time and expertise into our client’s campaigns to make them even more successful. We’re also invited to exclusive events to learn more, and have access to tools and functions that are yet to be released so we can get a head start on the competition.
Most businesses won’t be spending enough with marketing giants like this in order to have such a close relationship, but working with an agency or consultancy can indirectly give you this access, particularly if they are partners like we are.
Not having to hire
The last major benefit is not having to worry about hiring the right team.
I recently spoke with a client who spent months trying to find the right people for their team before deciding to talk to us instead. They told me that all the good mid-level marketers were already snapped up and not looking for jobs, while the more junior marketers with very little experience were asking for high salaries because the demand for marketers is so high.
Then once you’ve found a good person, you have to invest a lot in order to make sure that you keep them. Most businesses can’t offer the development opportunities, perks and benefits, or the culture that marketing agencies and consultancies can, which means that’s where a lot of the best talent ends up.
The client I spoke to is now happy they couldn’t find the right people as they ended up with a team of specialists who are not only great at executing the marketing strategy that we created together, but it’s enabled the remainder of their team to focus on aspects that an outsourced team can’t. They look to find improvements internally and have become more like product marketing managers who can rely on us to support them and enhance their marketing wherever possible.
To be clear, it shouldn’t be a case of hiring internally or working with an agency. I think the strongest approach is to have a combination of both.
And outsourcing your marketing isn’t for everyone, you need to make sure that you find an agency or consultancy that has a similar approach to you, but if you can find a team like that, then you can drive some significant results from your marketing together.
But I’m keen to hear what you think, particularly if you’ve experienced working at both. What approach do you see as working better, exclusively hiring in-house or working with an agency? Leave your comments below.
Thanks for watching, I’ll be back again soon with more.