Five Things To Consider
Small and mid-sized businesses often struggle to determine whether they should hire an outsourced marketing firm or if they should hire employees to perform it all in-house. Here are five things to consider before deciding the best route for you.
1. Do You Have a Comprehensive Marketing Strategy?
You need a marketing strategy that is tied to your sales goals. Without one, you are guessing and hoping your marketing efforts will work. You are also guaranteeing that whomever you hire is going to be handicapped in delivering the results you need because, without a strategy, they will be making decisions that will likely have little to do with your sales goals. They will be performing their duties in the dark and hoping something works.
What is a marketing strategy?
A marketing strategy is a written plan, informed by your business’s current situation. It will help you invest your budget properly, to communicate your value to the right audience, at the right time and in the right place.
If you do have a marketing strategy that is based on a well-researched situation analysis, then it’s likely that all you need to do is some cost comparisons of contracting outsourced marketing solutions versus hiring employees.
If you don’t have a marketing strategy, then you should probably hire a marketing agency to help you formulate one, or hire a Chief Marketing Officer who can research and create a strategy for you.
2. Do You Have A Tactical Marketing Plan?
What follows a marketing strategy is a tactical plan. (Tactics are things like email marketing, websites, social media, SEO, digital advertising, etc.) The tactical plan puts your strategy into action by taking into account your audience, message, and budget. This plan outlines exactly how you will allocate your budget, by tactic, to obtain your goals.
If you have a detailed tactical plan, then you may decide that some pieces of that plan are better handled in-house. Social media can be more efficiently handled by employees, especially when it is used as a customer service channel. Employees should know your customers and be able to deliver engaging social media content to them. Conversely, updating your website may require a full-time web developer. That role might be better suited for agency outsourcing.
The good news is, with a written tactical plan in hand, you have more control over how you spend your budget. You can hire specialists to execute on tactics or you can outsource marketing activities to a marketing agency or you can choose a hybrid approach as noted above.
If you don’t have a tactical plan, then you need to hire an agency to build one for you or hire a marketing director to create one for you.
3. Can You Evaluate Marketing Skills?
With a marketing strategy and tactical plan in place, your next challenge is to find the right people to execute the marketing efforts you have planned. Doing so requires that you can effectively evaluate an agency’s or a candidate’s ability to deliver on your plan.
Assessing an agency is a bit easier. You can look at its portfolio and case studies, and talk to current clients. For potential employees, you have to know how to write job descriptions that will fulfill your plan. The candidates should provide work samples that demonstrate the specific tasks you require of them, but they should also be a fit for your company culture.
4. How Will You Measure Marketing Results?
With a marketing strategy, marketing plan, and the right people in place, you are halfway to your goals. Now you have to determine the key performance indicators (KPI’s) of your tactical plan. How will you measure the success of each tactic? Using a written measurement plan, you can assign people to be responsible for measuring and reporting on each tactic.
For example, if one of your tactics is a weekly email newsletter, someone has to be responsible for tracking how many are sent, how many are opened and how many clicks each newsletter receives, among other key performance indicators.
Your employees and future hires should have analytic skills to measure campaigns correctly. If you have opted for outsourced marketing (hiring an agency), they must have data reporting built into their procedures so you know they are delivering on their contract.
5. How Much Involvement In Marketing Do You Want?
The last thing to consider is: how much do you want to be involved in the day-to-day management of your marketing campaigns? If you are a business owner who wants to “set it and forget it,” an agency may be the right choice for you. If you are someone who loves to look at the minutia of the day-to-day delivery of marketing campaigns, then hiring specialists to work for you is probably the right solution.
Contact A Great Marketing Agency
Inciting Marketing Solutions are experts at outsourced marketing. We can help you research and build a marketing strategy, tactical plan, and measurement plan. Contact us, if you think hiring an agency is the right move for you.