I’ve never been a good writer, and I’m OK with that.
It would take me five times longer than the average person to write a blog post, and it still wouldn’t be ready to publish once I finish. So why would I even try to undertake this task when I could hire someone who specializes in my weakness? This same sentiment illustrates why companies of all shapes and sizes should consider outsourcing some or all of their marketing.
The body of the following post was written by a professional freelance writer, and will conclude with a note from me, Casey, explaining why that’s not just OK — it’s actually a smart move given the nature of today’s marketing landscape.
In its infancy, marketing was a more straightforward affair, as marketers were limited to getting our message out over a finite number of channels: TV, radio and print advertising. Now, broadcast may be good for reach, but it’s also a relatively blunt instrument. Granular targeting simply wasn’t possible in a world dominated by traditional media. Plus, a marketing professional could reasonably expect to be an expert on all aspects of their field.
Today’s marketer doesn’t have that luxury. Marketing has exploded into a radically complex, expansive ecosystem with new channels popping up daily. Digital marketing — itself a relatively new phenomenon — has changed dramatically in less than a decade. Gone are the days when digital marketing expertise meant mastering of Google Ads, SEO and email campaigns. The new digital landscape involves influencers, podcasting, YouTube, augmented reality and the social media platform of the moment. Digital marketers scramble to adapt to new channels only to find that audiences have already moved on to something new. The churn is real.
And technological innovation means that even enduring channels are constantly evolving. A television marketer of years past could go their whole career without having to adjust to any significant technological advances. By contrast, even the most basic digital marketing strategy must account for Google’s algorithm self-adjusting every six months. Simply put, to be static in today’s marketing landscape is to be irrelevant.
Modern marketing teams are overloaded. Not only are they expected to manage everything from branding and content creation to consumer relations and analytics, but they also act as liaisons, explaining and justifying marketing decisions to clients and other departments within their own companies. These broad expectations place stress on even the most battle-tested marketer’s ability to focus and perform.
The average in-house team simply does not have the time, personnel, skills and budget to do everything that is asked of them, or do it well. Most marketing teams make up less than 1 percent of a business’s total workforce. Companies with 5,000 employees employ an average of 45 in-house marketers, and companies with fewer than 50 employees have an average marketing team of only three people. Even highly-qualified professionals are limited by the resources at their disposal.
Moreover, an incredible number of specializations now fall under the marketing umbrella. It’s unrealistic to expect someone to be an expert in all of them. A general marketing manager should be broadly familiar with the various marketing channels and know which ones will best serve a company’s needs, but their expertise can only extend so far.
Building an in-house team of specialists is expensive and time-consuming. Even if a company can afford to employ an expert in every marketing field, it’s a poor investment — it means paying full-time for services you only need part of the time (or sporadically). Outsourcing eliminates the hassle of the hiring process and gives you access to experts while eliminating a lot of overhead.
It has long been common practice to outsource various business tasks, but until recent years, marketing was considered strictly in-house work. Today, the complexity of digital marketing has forced even the most competent marketers to look outward. The vast majority of companies utilize outside agencies for some or all of their marketing efforts, and 63 percent of marketing influencers agree that the most effective strategy is a combination of both in-house and outsourced talent.
What a company chooses to outsource will vary based on its size, needs, resources and industry. Some tactics are commonly outsourced because of their complexity and the expensive technology involved, such as programmatic advertising and data management. Other tasks, such as design, SEO and basic content creation, are often outsourced because they can be managed without intimate knowledge of the company and its workings. Most companies — but not all — choose to manage their overall marketing strategy in-house, retaining big-picture control and delegating smaller components.
Rather than treating them as a vendor, think of an agency as a part-time extension of your marketing team. Making this arrangement work requires knowing your company’s own strengths. Invest your resources in areas where your team excels and outsource relative to areas of weakness. An outside agency can expand your team’s capabilities, giving you access to their resources and experience for much less than it would cost to hire someone full-time or to try to train up your own team. Agencies can also hire specialists who have the time to deep-dive into optimizing a channel, freeing up your team to focus on the high-impact tasks that really need their attention. That means getting better results with greater efficiency.
Every word in this article, besides the intro and this conclusion, was written by a freelancer who worked off an outline I provided. That person did a better job than I could ever have done, and my time was free to focus on my strengths: setting strategy for Belo + Company.
This is what every company should be doing at a larger level in their marketing efforts. Expand the power of your internal marketing team by getting an agency to do those things that you either don’t have the bandwidth or the expertise to take on.