Employing external resources to gain the greatest leverage possible is how you compete today, pure and simple.
Recently my company outsourced two creative projects for our client to a strategic partner. The turnaround time was less than 48 hours for both pieces of content, and the work was perfect. The agency my company worked with was cordial, prompt, and had 13 other glowing reviews of their work.
So, where is small business marketing going?
I know this much, I own a strategic marketing firm and haven’t even considered hiring someone on staff in graphic design, branding, or website design. I will partner and outsource on creative projects (with people I already know and trust) so I can focus on the real differentiator in my industry, driving bottom line revenue for my clients.
Marketing has changed a lot in the past few years, and it’s changed for the better. Marketing is much more data driven, and the data is coming out of analytics software along with marketing automation tools. Rather than needing a graphic designer, you need an expert in running Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, Salesforce, etc. Instead of needing an in-house web designer, you need a conversion rate optimization expert to A/B test exactly what is working on your site. Most importantly, you no longer need these individuals on staff, utilizing contract workers, consultants or agencies instead.
The Small Business Marketing Outsource Problem
Don’t get me wrong, there will always be a place for marketing research, strategy, and direction, thus the reason my company Indispensable Marketing exist. The strategic marketing direction comes from the Chief Marketing Officer in most businesses which is still an incredibly important role.
However, your CMO no longer needs a staff of 25 plus, instead they need great software, great software administrators, and a sizable budget. For small businesses that strategic marketing direction needs to come from the owner, sales or a trusted strategic marketing firm. The marketing budget should be reflective of the fact that the marketing group is lean on headcount and heavy on outsourcing.
We regularly talk with clients who haven’t made the transition from traditional corporate marketing to more of an outsourced or contract type engagement. For the most part, management isn’t putting a big enough emphasis, or spending enough money, on results-based marketing. They hire a graphic designer or marketing generalist, pay them $30-40k per year, and expect that they know everything about marketing (like strategic partnerships, differentiation, referral systems, timing triggers, ideal customer profiles, positioning, thought leadership, etc.) and can help affect the bottom line. Generally, a creative agency or graphic designer doesn’t have the systems, processes, and tools to engage clients in a strategic way for lead generation, online marketing, or marketing strategy.
Small Business Marketing Outsource Process
Below you will find the most effective way to start outsourcing your marketing in a practical, strategic and process way.
Develop and Define Your Strategy
Without strategy, how do you know who to target? What resources they read offline and online? What your competitors are saying? This should be the first step in any marketing process, regardless if you are interested in outsourcing or not. These key elements should be common knowledge for every single person in your organization. When you outsource, they should also be included in the education phase of the conversation. Hopefully, you understand the importance, so how can you outsource these elements of strategy?
Whenever Indispensable Marketing works with clients, regardless the type of engagement, we start with conducting customer research in the form of client interviews. We engage a handful of their best clients, and try to learn as much information as possible during a phone call. Questions ranging from what resources do they read offline and online to where do they do their research when considering a purchase to what types of words would they type into Google to find our clients in search. This is a great element to outsource to an outside company because it is a lot easier to pick up on themes with an outside perspective vs when you are living and breathing in the company on a daily basis.
Knowing what your competitors are saying, what they are excelling with, where they are online – are all essential elements of a strategy. Without this, how will you set your company apart from your competitors? How will you have an attractive difference? This is another really great strategy element to outsource. You could spend hours and hours looking at each of your competitors websites, social media profiles, content, the list goes on. You should always keep tabs on your competitors with your own prospect interactions, but there are also a ton of great competitive research tools that can drastically speed up the process.
The Move To Trusted Partners
As software programs and outsourcing platforms continue to advance, so will outsourcing of the marketing department. There will be no such thing as a marketing generalist or a big marketing department. The Chief Marketing Officer, Owner or Strategic Marketing Firm will have a bunch of trusted partners for everything marketing, and a handful of administrators and project managers to move the projects along.