The concept of outsourced marketing makes a lot of sense in today’s business environment. As businesses grow and scale, keeping pace with the fast-paced and ongoing algorithmic changes of digital marketing is itself a full-time job. Add to that the challenges of hiring and retaining top talent in the current HR market and it can steal a lot of time and focus from hiring managers and current staff alike.
To fully understand what an outsourced marketing department looks like, we can take a look at each role a company can take advantage of under the outsourced marketing system, how the savings and benefits start to stack, and the comparative economics of outsourcing vs. hiring.
But first, a quick word about hiring marketing unicorns. A marketing unicorn is a truly magical beast, and one that companies have tried to find and capture throughout history. It’s that special, super-human marketer who is equal parts project manager, strategist, copywriter, and designer. A person who is equally comfortable in the traditional marketing world and is driven by curiosity to stay up to date on the latest updates, changes, and best practices in digital marketing. As you can imagine, that unicorn can be tough to capture and force to board your ark.
If you have a job to fill and it requires you to be a copywriter and designer, you have two jobs to fill.
Jobs in outsourced marketing
When a company hires an outsourced marketing agency, they have access to each of these roles in exactly the amount of time needed to do the job – no more, no less. The cost efficiencies make themselves clear, with each role staffed by a specialist to drive better results than when they are staffed by someone attempting more than one role.
- Marketing strategists. Marketing strategists like your Chief Marketing Officer take your organizational goals and translate them into the marketing tactics most likely to achieve those goals at your set budget level. When marketing strategy is someone’s stand-alone role, you’re getting the most up-to-date marketing direction that takes advantage of the latest technology, marketing tactics, and digital breakthroughs.
- Project managers. Project management roles may be called account management, account coordination, or some combination of strategy titles in addition to the project management tasks they guide. Regardless, one of the most important roles in the marketing department is the one that helps the trains run on time. Your project manager ensures tactics stay true to strategy, that budgets are managed, and messages remain clear and focused. They report on campaign success to keep your marketing department accountable. Your account manager is also your one point of contact at an outsourced marketing agency, making communication simple and efficient.
- Everyone can write. But not everyone can write. A trained, professional copywriter has the ability to bring text to life. They capture the essence of a brand and communicate it to your customers in a way that drives action. Your brand deserves to have access to this kind of professional.
- Today’s designers must be experts at both print and digital specs, creative benefits, and format limitations. Yes, they make things look pretty – but the primary goal of design is to move your customers to action, clearly communicating brand benefits in the most compelling way possible. Companies that outsource their marketing have access to these specialists who are as comfortable building a website as they are designing print ads or billboards, because that’s what today’s design challenges demand.
- Video production. More than ever, video communicates to your customers in a powerful way. Having access to video production specialists adds a critical component to the way your site, social properties, and email can communicate your message.
- It isn’t just about finding a photographer. The outsourced marketing model brings access to the right kind of photographer. Whether you’re shooting a portrait, product, or lifestyle may require the skills of a very particular kind of photographer. Your outsourced marketing department also has a network of trusted photographers in other cities, making it efficient to capture content far and wide, as needed.
- Media buyers, planners, and negotiators. Anyone can call a radio station and buy a media schedule. Those who specialize in media buying can take a “special offer” from a local television station that recently started selling Over The Top (OTT) advertising and evaluate their proposal to know whether this is a great deal that will impact your target audience, or if it’s more efficient to place your own digital ads and rely on that local television station for things they’re better at delivering. They know if you’re getting the best rate. They can tell you where your target audience is, and in what state of mind they’re in when they view your ad.
- Paid search specialists. When you absolutely, positively have to be at the top of the search results page, accept no substitutes. Paid search specialists at an outsourced marketing agency are going to be Google Ad Certified professionals who are up to date on the latest algorithm changes – minor or major unpublished updates to the search logic that determines whether you or your competition end up at the top of the list. Get it wrong and you pay hundreds of dollars for irrelevant clicks to your website. Get it right and that click can be a new customer at an appropriate cost per lead.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialists. Like paid search specialists, these pros help you get found for the search terms most likely to result in a customer contact. Tactics SEO specialists employ range from strategically determining what blog content you need, to back-end website coding, to acquiring the best links from other websites to your site. This position is absolutely critical in today’s marketing environment.
- Social media specialists. It’s not about hiring someone who grew up on Facebook. A social media strategist determines which social media platforms make sense for your brand, how your voice and message may change slightly to fit each platform, and the relative payback expected for each hour spent and dollar invested in social media advertising. A social media expert will also be able to design an ad campaign on the right social platform to support your company’s sales goals. The days of Throwback Thursday are over, making way for data-driven engagement and sales.
- Email marketing specialists. For business-to-business companies, email marketing is still the most reliable way to reach your next customer and re-engage with your current customers. Email platforms and capabilities vary widely. Your outsourced marketing department’s email marketing specialists are well-versed in each platform. They develop one-off communications as well as lead nurture campaigns that turn casual prospects into long-term, profitable customers. They also coordinate the development of your website’s landing pages that may be created specifically to drive customer contact from a single email or search campaign. With Apple’s recent changes to privacy, their job also requires professionals who are up to date on all the obstacles and changing conditions.
- Print production. Direct mail, magazine and newspaper production, handouts, and brochures are just a few of the projects where these specialists lend a hand. Your brand consistency matters. They’ll make sure the price is right, but they’ll also keep you safe from paper stock that makes you look cheap and ink that doesn’t match your brand colors. Specialization here saves you time and money.
- Website developers. The days of building a website and never touching it again until the next web refresh are over. Companies use the well-honed skills of a web developer monthly, making updates and improvements that result in a better web experience. Testing page optimization and user experience improvements can result in measurable results. Even improving the load time of a page by one second results in significant increases in page conversions and online purchases. The flexibility to have one at your disposal but not on your payroll makes a lot of financial sense, as web updates may be a monthly event, but not every business needs daily attention at the programmer level.
The economics of outsourced marketing
Before you hire additional marketing staff, you should go through this exercise to compare the relative cost of hiring an employee to the level of outsourced marketing you’ll get in exchange.
First, let’s look at the makeup of a typical in-house department vs. an outsourced marketing solution.
|Full Internal Staff||Outsourced Marketing Solution|
|CMO $100,000||CMO – $125/hour|
|Account Strategist $65,000||Account Strategist – $125/hour|
|Performance Insights $45,000||Performance Insights – $125/hour|
|Website Updates $45,000||Website Updates – $125/hour|
|Social Media $45,000||Social Media – $125/hour|
|Copywriting $65,000||Copywriting – $125/hour|
|Creative Director $100,000||Creative Director – $125/hour|
|Art Director $60,000||Art Director – $125/hour|
|Media Planner $65,000||Media Planner – $125/hour|
|Search Marketing Manager $75,000||Search Marketing Manager – $125/hour|
|Marketing Coordinator $40,000||Marketing Coordinator – $125/hour|
Next, let’s look at an annual allocation example utilizing the above assumptions. The example below is broad, as your mix of hours by position will be customized to fit your needs.
CMO – 23 hours
Account Planner – 40 hours
Performance Insights – 50 hours
Website Updates – 72 hours
Social Media – 100 hours
Copywriting – 100 hours
Creative Director – 20 hours
Art Director – 75 hours
Media Planner – 40 hours
Search Marketing Manager – 160 hours
Marketing Coordinator – 120 hours
The outsourced model is immanently more flexible and provides the organization with the precise number of hours needed, with no employment benefits, training time, or idle time. Adding an outsourced marketing team to an already established department to fill in specialty gaps like search marketing, art direction, and social media while letting in-house staff direct projects is an additional way to piece together the ideal marketing department that will scale as the business does.