6 Step Guide to Outsourcing Marketing in 2021

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. 

After all, marketing firms generally have a wider range of offerings, a team with broader expertise, and the ability to work more efficiently than in-house teams. 

If your in-house team is overstretched and running behind schedule, it could be time to outsource your marketing. 

What does outsourced marketing look like?

Marketing can be completely outsourced, entirely in-house, or, a combination of the two. 

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 should you outsource?

Again, you don’t have to outsource every component of your marketing. You could outsource:

And any other element of your marketing or PR. 

In sum: consider your in-house workload, skill set, 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:

Outsourcing 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

Outsourcing Email Marketing

  • Increase automation and personalization based on a user’s behavior
  • Streamline email 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 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 6-step guide to outsourcing marketing in 2021.

  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:

Freelancers:

  • Typically charge an hourly rate or bills by project
  • 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

Agencies:

  • 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
  1. Establish a budget

Establishing your budget can help clarify whether your organization should use a freelancer or an agency.

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. 
  1. 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 complement, rather than replace, your in-house team?

  1. Start your search

Searching for 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 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 agency?

Here are some things to consider when researching agencies:

  • 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?

and

  • 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:

  • 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. 

  1. Give clear instructions

After deciding on your agency or freelancer, let the work begin!

In order 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.

  1. 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 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.

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. 

ABOUT SHAMA HYDER

She is the founder & CEO of Zen Media. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.

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