Outsourcing marketing and advertising services is blossoming among small and medium sized businesses. Recently we’ve been asked a host of new questions as companies evaluate the pros and cons of outsourced marketing.
In no particular order, here are the most recent and frequent questions asked about outsourcing.
Is it a good idea to outsource social media marketing?
Yes and no. Seriously, it really depends on your business whether outsourcing social media is viable or affordable.
Consider the frequency and nature of your social content. For some companies social postings are infrequent and can be planned ahead of time. For other companies social postings come fast and furious. There isn’t a lot of time to consolidate and share the information with a third party who then must write it, share it, monitor it, respond to engagements, etc.
If your social media marketing is limited to organic postings on an infrequent basis, you might not consider outsourcing your social media marketing. However, if your plans include paid social media advertising using any paid platform, we encourage you to get guidance from a professional marketing agency.
If your social media marketing is directly impacting your lead generation or customer acquisition, then outsourcing your social media and gaining valuable professional experience might pay dividends in the long run.
Remember, just because organic social media postings don’t take a lot of time, they can lead to tremendous business growth for the right companies. If you decide to outsource your social media, do it because it drives business not just because it consumes time.
Does outsourced marketing involve overseas vendors or subcontractors?
Maybe. It depends on the outsourced marketing company you select.
Outsourced marketing is trending, which is good. Outsourced marketing companies using subcontractors or overseas vendors is also trending, which is bad. These companies often use third-party companies for services like website development and even content writing.
At EAG Advertising & Marketing all of our services are implemented in-house, right in our Kansas City offices. Occasionally we use a third-party software development company within a few blocks of our offices, but never overseas.
We believe outsourced marketing is not conducive to subcontractors because it creates even more distance between the client and the creator. Our designers and writers sit at the table with clients, understanding their brands. Whether you choose EAG or another outsourced marketer, choose wisely.
What services are included in outsourced marketing?
It depends on the marketing company but you can easily find all services from providers in all shapes and sizes.
Some full service advertising agencies consider themselves outsourced marketers. Some individual consultants consider themselves outsourced marketers. Some companies specialize in single services like search optimization, content development, Google AdWords or social media. Others, like EAG, consider themselves full-service marketing departments.
In the case of EAG, our services include anything you would expect from a fully staffed in-house marketing department or advertising agency – and then some.
Is outsourcing marketing like outsourcing IT, Finance or HR?
Yes, to some extent but with some big differences. Often outsourced services are similarly called managed services. While the basic premise is the same – services and benefits can vary a lot.
Like IT, finance or human resources, when you hire a marketing company you are doing it because you need a level of expertise you don’t have in-house. Not only do you lack the needed marketing expertise in-house but you also don’t need that expertise on a full-time basis.
Unlike IT, finance or human resources, when you hire a marketing company, your relationships should be entirely proactive rather than reactive. Often, IT and HR companies react to problems in your business. Even a finance company may provide tax and finance services on a regular basis but often they are not strategic in the relationship.
When hiring a marketing company to outsource, you should expect strategies, plans, tactics and budgets as part of the basic level of services.
For EAG clients, we do not model ourselves after the outsourced IT, finance and HR relationships that often have a recurring flat fee. That flat fee is great for the outsource provider but not necessarily for the client. At EAG we work within established client budgets but we only bill for real time and services. Just like having an in-house marketing department, you pay for what you need and what you get.
I have an existing relationship with my web company. Can I keep it?
Yes. Whether or not it is a good idea to keep any existing marketing relationship when you decide to hire an outsourced marketing department depends on your expectations and the plan set forth by your marketing company.
Here’s an example: If you outsource search engine optimization (SEO) to a third party company and they don’t ask for full access to your website – run the other way. SEO best-practices require technical optimization that must be accomplished with access to the website. If the website isn’t currently optimized, your existing website company has failed you. If your future outsourced SEO company hasn’t addressed technical optimization, they are about to fail you.
At EAG we work with legacy relationships all the time. But we also evaluate the services performed by those providers and tell our owner/clients when there are gaps in the service. Sometimes this works out well for us and sometimes it doesn’t. But it always benefits the client to know how their dollars are being spent for advertising and marketing services.
How much does it cost to outsource marketing?
Here’s the million dollar question. And, it doesn’t cost a million dollars.
Since no two marketing agencies are alike, we’re going to answer this question the best way we know how. Within ranges, we will show what you can expect to get from an outsourcing relationship with EAG Advertising & Marketing. Of course, we have no idea what others charge or the services they provide so this answer is specific to EAG.
All EAG clients receive a plan, budget, reporting and regularly planned meetings regardless of their investment level. In addition, the following are examples of what an investment level can create for your specific outsourced marketing program.
Invest up to $25,000 per year in outsourced marketing.
This is a great way to supplement an existing in-house marketing team with experts in social media, search marketing or the specialized talent fields like graphic design, video or copywriting. You can allocate this investment to anywhere your current staff has gaps in either experience or when the volume of work gets too big.
Some larger companies with in-house marketing departments simply need marketing leadership because they don’t want to invest in CMO-level talent. A fractional CMO is a great investment to improve the performance of your in-house staff.
Investing $25,000 per year in outsourced marketing may be enough to build a highly productive search optimization campaign, a lead generating campaign or both. What you get for your money will depend entirely on the competitive nature of your business and industry.
You can definitely expect to have your outsourced marketing department take care of the little things that you never seem to be able to address like updating a website, brochure or presentation. You might allocate these resources to improved content, a public relations campaign or even some new photography. All are doable, to some extent, with an investment of $25,000 per year or less.
Invest $25,500 – $50,000 in outsourced marketing.
At this level you begin to gain the benefit of not hiring internal staff and the added costs of taxes and benefits. When you outsource you get an entire team to replace one potential in-house salary.
At this level you can expect year-long plans that could directly affect the sales line and even the bottom line. A program of this size should include lead generating strategies and tactics and include all the items mentioned at the $25,000 level.
Most commonly, our client’s investment between $25,500 and $50,000 in outsource marketing have campaigns that include tactical strategies like: Website updates and edits. New content and organic search optimization. Paid search marketing and advertising. Robust social media campaigns. Lead generating tactics for supplementing tradeshow attendance. Public relations activity. And many more less frequent, but no less important, activities related to your marketing success.
Invest $50,500 – $100,000 in outsourced marketing.
Let’s talk ROI. At this level of investment, every business should have a solid understanding of their return-on-investment from marketing programs, whether they are outsourced or not.
Our clients investing at this level have deferred the hiring of staff and avoided the salaries and benefits of two or more employees. They also gain the benefit of expertise in 18 different disciplines, all likely to be called into action with this size budget.
The biggest difference in services received at this level of investment is related to the size and scope of lead generating campaigns. Our clients at this level are usually reaching a national audience through multiple channels, have a long sales cycle and require multiple customer touch-points to make a sale.
When companies invest more than $50,500 in outsourced marketing with EAG they begin to reap real economies of scale. A larger percentage of the budget is applied to media and tactical execution at the higher levels of spending.
Invest $100,500 or more in outsourced marketing.
The engine is revved up and our fully staffed marketing department is managing all aspects of the brand. Lead generation is in full force and sophisticated analytics are providing everyone involved with the level of reporting needed to determine ROI and more.
A robust selection of media and channels may be used at this level of spending. New technologies can be tested and applied where applicable. At this level, some companies choose to make capital improvements to their marketing programs to include a new website, CRM, e-commerce platform or even signage. A lot can be accomplished with budgets in excess of $100,500.
What can I get with a $4,500 budget?
There’s a famous marketing saying that came from John Wannamaker, circa 1915 – “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; The trouble is I don’t know which half.”