Marketing is one of the most important elements of a successful business strategy – but effective marketing requires near-constant monitoring and tinkering as well as a fount of experience and up-to-date knowledge. It isn’t difficult to do marketing, but it is nearly impossible for a small or new business to do marketing well.
As a result, many small businesses decide that the best course of action is to outsource their marketing efforts. You might be considering the same – but you might also be wondering whether you can outsource marketing while still maintaining high quality campaigns and sufficient consumer engagement. The truth is you can rely on a third party to market your business well, but you should do the following to ensure success.
Define Your Marketing Strategy
Before you can outsource marketing, you need to know what marketing services you need. To do this, you need to clearly define your marketing goals, outline your marketing strategy and determine what tools and actions are necessary.
Even if you think you know what your marketing strategy is, it is worthwhile investing some time spelling everything out for yourself and your future third-party marketing firm. If you don’t know what your business requires to accomplish your marketing goals, you will likely spend either way too much on marketing services or way too little; in either case, your business won’t thrive thanks to outsourcing. Plus, by giving yourself this extra review, you can refine your strategy based on emerging marketing trends, like account-based marketing for B2Bs or mobile CX for B2Cs.
Decide What You Should Outsource
Next, you need to pick apart your marketing strategy to determine what elements you need and want to outsource. It is during this phase that many businesses make grievous mistakes that impede the effectiveness and increase the expense of their marketing efforts. For example, you might be tempted to outsource the lot of your marketing needs, refusing to allow any marketing responsibility to remain in house. However, this can be an expensive mistake.
First, you should evaluate the skills and interests of your workforce. You will likely find that some of your employees claim moderate marketing skill, perhaps in writing blog posts or engaging with social media audiences. As long as these tasks don’t demand an exorbitant amount of your employees’ time, you should consider retaining those responsibilities.
However, you should strive to outsource the most time- and labor-intensive marketing efforts. These most often include:
- Social media management
- Search engine optimization
- Email marketing
- Content creation
- Search and social ads
- Video creation
- Data management
Develop a Company Style Guide
You know your brand, and you know how to express that brand through your marketing assets. However, a third-party marketing agency has less familiarity with your company style, and given free reign, they likely won’t perfectly emulate the style you have established thus far. That’s why you need a company style guide: to keep all marketing efforts uniform in look and feel.
Your style guide should focus on the creative elements of your brand. For example, you should explain the typical structure, grammar and tone used in written content, such as in product descriptions, blogs or social media posts. You might also detail the types of images integral to your brand – are they data-driven graphs and charts or artistic photographs? No element of style is too insignificant to include if you want your marketing efforts to be cohesive.
Drive Your Marketing With Data
In addition to style, you should also include metrics in your instructions for third-party marketers. For example, if you are outsourcing all content creation, you should explain how long content should be, how many links and images it should contain, what keywords should be included and similar data. This will ensure that quality is standard across multiple outsourced vendors, should you choose to outsource your marketing to several providers, such as freelancers, rather than just a single marketing agency.
Demand Open Communication
Outsourcing your marketing isn’t a set-and-forget solution; you shouldn’t write away these responsibilities and never think about them again. Rather, outsourcing merely allows you and your team to shift primary focus from menial marketing tasks to overall strategy or other business efforts. You should continue to check in with your third-party provider(s) to ensure that your expectations are being met. To do this effectively, you should mandate that communication is open between you and your outsourcees – and you should establish how communication will occur, be it over email, phone calls or in-person meetings.
Outsourcing marketing is an excellent idea – but only if you can commit to doing it right. As long as you remain attentive to your business’s marketing needs and active in communicating those needs to whatever third-party marketers you choose, you should find success in the outsourcing process.