The Great Resignation has left countless companies scrambling to fill full-time marketing positions. From CMOs to junior marketers, vacancies abound—and this looks as though it will carry into 2023.
These developments have left many companies that never needed to outsource their marketing considering taking the plunge. In this post, we’ll break down why you might want to try outsourced marketing and how you can make it work for your company.
What it means to outsource marketing
Outsourcing your marketing refers to the practice of hiring external professionals or agencies to handle some or all of your company’s marketing activities. This can include tasks such as creating content, managing social media accounts, running advertising campaigns, and conducting market research.
By outsourcing marketing, businesses can benefit from the expertise and resources of external specialists without having to hire a full-time marketing team. This can help companies save time and money while still achieving their marketing goals.
Outsourcing marketing can also provide businesses with flexibility and scalability. For example, if a company wants to launch a new product or enter a new market, it can quickly scale up its marketing efforts by outsourcing to a team of professionals who specialize in that area.
Pros and cons of outsourced marketing services
There are advantages to keeping a company’s work completely internal, namely in terms of management and organization. However, there are also instances where outsourcing marketing is the most suitable option.
Marketing can be wholly outsourced, entirely in-house, or a combination of the two. After all, marketing firms generally have a more comprehensive range of offerings, a team with broader expertise, and the ability to work more efficiently than in-house teams.
- Access to expertise from a team of marketing professionals who specialize in various areas
- Cost savings compared to hiring a full-time marketing team
- Time savings, allowing business owners and employees to focus on other important tasks
- Avoidance of expensive investments in marketing tools and software
- Potential loss of control over the marketing process
- Possibility of miscommunication if expectations and preferences aren’t communicated clearly to the marketing agency
If your in-house team is overstretched and running behind schedule, it could be time to outsource your marketing.
When should you outsource marketing?
Here are a few scenarios where your company would benefit from outsourced marketing:
- Business is growing. Your company wants to maintain momentum through online marketing.
- You want to accelerate growth.
- You and your employees are pressed for time and don’t have enough bandwidth to execute successful campaigns.
- You want to focus on insights rather than operations.
- You want your marketing to be in the hands of experts.
- You want a unified marketing strategy.
- You want to get ahead of the curve.
What part of your marketing should you outsource?
Again, you don’t have to outsource every component of your marketing. You could outsource:
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
- Marketing Strategy
- Marketing Analytics
- Digital PR
And any other element of your marketing or PR.
In sum: consider your in-house workload, skill sets, timelines, and other factors when deciding which elements of your marketing could and should be outsourced.
Curious what you’ll get by outsourcing different elements of your marketing? Here’s a quick breakdown:
Outsource Content Marketing
- Help position your brand as an informative thought leader
- Create more relevant and engaging content for your ideal customer
- Increase the quality and quantity of your content output
- Streamline the content creation process
- Allow for new insights, platforms, and talents sets to help your content stay fresh
- Assist with creating digital brochures and other marketing collateral
Outsourcing Email Marketing
- Increase automation and personalization based on a user’s behavior
- Streamline email marketing delivery and timing
- Helps ensure you’re not breaking any laws regarding unsubscribes, unsolicited emails, or spam
- Assists in a well-planned “drip campaign”
Outsourcing Influencer Marketing
- Establishes your brand as a trustworthy and credible industry leader
- Creates long-term relationships with influential members of the public and/or your given industry
- Boosts your website’s SEO and ROI by connecting with a wider audience.
- Builds a community around your business via social media channels
Outsourcing Social Media Marketing
- Grow brand awareness
- Focus on one or many social media platforms
- Automate posting
- Utilize social media experts who follow trends, ignite interest and keep your marketing current and accessible
Now, without further ado, here’s your 7-step guide to outsourcing marketing
1. Decide if you’ll go the agency or freelancer route
How do you know if an agency or freelancer is best for you?
Here’s a comparison of the two:
- Typically charge an hourly rate or bills by project. Trackable with a time tracker for freelancers
- Different availability from standard business hours
- As a client, you usually communicate with one individual
- Likely working on other/multiple projects in addition to yours
- May have a speciality/expertise
- Typically bills on a monthly basis
- Similar availability to standard business hours
- As a client, you usually communicate with one point of contact
- Likely working on multiple projects and with multiple clients
- Can provide both depth and breadth
2. Establish a budget
Establishing your budget can help clarify whether your organization should use a freelancer or an agency that specializes in outsource marketing.
Take into account things like:
- How much time and money keeping activities in-house are costing you. It’s hard to get an exact amount, but if you begin with your staff’s salaries and calculate how much time they’re spending on the activities you’ll be outsourcing, you can gain a general idea of the resources you’ll (theoretically) be freeing up.
- How long you’ll be working with the freelancer or agency. Are you outsourcing a single campaign that will be completed within a month? Or are you looking for a long-term partnership?
- Any potential savings from tools, contractors, or other services that you will no longer need once you begin working with the freelancer/agency.
3. Nail down your marketing requirements
Before entering the search phase, you should nail down your organization’s marketing requirements and priorities.
What marketing initiatives are most important to you at this time? Is it a website redesign? Creating a social media presence? Refining your SEO strategy?
If you already have some in-house marketing team, consider their strengths and weaknesses. What are they managing well? What are they struggling with? How can outsourcing marketing complement, rather than replace, your in-house team?
4. Start your search
Searching for Marketing agencies
When looking into marketing agencies, LinkedIn is an excellent resource. You can search for agencies directly, and also reach out to your connections about whom they use for outsource marketing. These kinds of referrals can go a long way in the vetting process. Look at current marketing campaigns that appeal to you, and would be a solid match for your project. Which agencies created those campaigns?
After getting agency names, reach out either directly, through their website, or on a platform like LinkedIn to start a conversation.
What should you look for in marketing agency?
Here are some things to consider when researching agencies for outsource marketing services:
- Recognition, contributions, and influence: Is this agency an active member of their industry?
- Multitalented: Does this agency have experience working with a variety of clients in your industry?
- Reputation: Can you find outside reviews of this agency? What are others saying about it?
- Response time: How long did it take for this agency to get back to you? Were they fast to respond or slow?
- Partnership: Does this agency strike you as a good fit for your needs in an overall sense? Can you envision a smooth collaboration and effective communication? Pay attention to how they address potential customers through blog posts, website copy, and other content. Are they approachable? Knowledgeable? Interested in collaborating, rather than simply controlling?
Searching for freelancers
Here’s how you can search for freelancers who specialize in outsource marketing:
- Post a job on LinkedIn and other professional sites
- Post on social media groups and professional platforms
- Research existing bloggers in your industry by looking at the authors of blog posts and articles you like
What should you look for in a freelancer?
Here are some things to consider when reviewing a freelancer:
- Experience: Do they have experience in your field?
- Skills: Do they have the right skills you are looking for?
- Reliability: Do they have any outside reviews, or are they willing to share references?
- Contracts and payments: How do they set up engagements? Are payments on a schedule and platform you can work with?
Ultimately, you want an agency or freelancer that is compatible with your company. Again, consider how the working partnership would assist your marketing plan and make your campaign run more smoothly and effectively.
5. Give clear instructions
After deciding on your agency or freelancer, let the work begin!
To get started on the right foot, it’s important to give ultra clear instructions. Provide as much information as possible. You could even send over examples of what you’re envisioning.
Be sure to explain your target audience in detail, too. By offering specifics and outlining expectations and concise information for all avenues of the marketing campaign, time and energy will be focused on moving on the right path. If you don’t have a resource your agency or freelancer requests–buyer personas, for example–consider letting them create that resource by working with you
It’s so much more effective to begin strong and stay the course rather than endure repeated dead ends and misunderstandings. It can be difficult to get back on the correct trajectory if the initial concepts are not clear.
6. Collaborate with your team, and think outside of the box.
While setting expectations and sharing specifics about exactly what you are looking for is important, it is also essential to collaborate with your team. You are outsourcing because you want to grow and evolve as a brand—and you can’t do this if you don’t take your marketing team’s advice.
Make sure you remain open-minded to your team’s feedback as your campaign continues. The best results occur when you actively listen and try new things. Ask your publicist and/or marketers their thoughts on how to best increase brand visibility and ROI. Do they think your campaign should focus on earned media? Or, do they promote a Mixed Marketing Model (this is our favorite strategy, tbh!)?
If a particular strategy is not working during your campaign, try scheduling a brainstorming session where you and your team can think outside the box. B2B marketing is a complex world, which is why open mindedness is key to solving problems and moving your company forward.
7. Monitor progress on an ongoing basis—but don’t micromanage.
In the early stages of your partnership, be prepared to monitor the agency or freelancer’s progress while avoiding micromanaging. Open communication is key, but giving your experienced marketing agency or freelancer room to do their creative best is exactly why you hired them. Let them perform their best work by keeping close attention to the process without overwhelming them with unnecessary pressure or too much oversight.
Tools to help seamlessly outsource your marketing
Upwork is one of the most popular platforms for finding freelancers and agencies for outsourcing marketing. You can post a job and receive proposals from qualified professionals who match your requirements. You can also review their portfolios, ratings, and reviews to make an informed decision. Upwork also offers collaboration and payment tools to streamline your outsourcing process.
Fiverr is another popular platform for outsourcing marketing tasks. You can find freelancers who specialize in various marketing disciplines, such as SEO, social media, content marketing, and graphic design. Fiverr offers fixed-price services and packages, making it easy to budget and scale your outsourcing. You can also communicate and collaborate with your freelancers through Fiverr’s messaging system.
3. Hubstaff Talent
Hubstaff Talent is a free platform that connects businesses with remote workers from around the world. You can search for freelancers who have expertise in marketing and other fields. Hubstaff Talent also provides tools for tracking your freelancer’s work hours and ensuring accountability. You can also use Hubstaff Talent to manage payments and contracts.
Still unsure if outsourcing marketing is right for you? Reach out to Zen Media today for more guidance. We can’t wait to hear from you.