Outsourcing is no longer a dirty word. Even small businesses now do it. And outsourcing doesn’t always mean shipping work overseas. If you’ve asked a graphic designer to develop your company’s logo, you’re an outsourcer. One outsourcing area in particular, outsource marketing, is the difference between success and failure for many small to midsized companies.
But not every company is a great fit for outsource marketing services. During our first 18 years in business, our technology and healthcare marketing agency figured out which companies are the best and worst fits for turning over their marketing to an outside agency.
Interestingly enough, the success of outsourcing your marketing depends on whether you need strategic or tactical services from the outside agency.
You’re a good fit for strategic outsource marketing if:
- Your company needs a strategic vision for marketing and how it should support business goals.
- Your executives are OK with an external agency hearing about the good, bad, and “dirty laundry” of your company.
- The executive makes it clear to any existing staff that the agency is not replacing them, but is simply an extension of the team.
- You need impartial advice and subject matter expertise about the viability of marketing campaigns.
- You outsource other strategic functional areas such as accounting or public relations.
- You have a realistic budget for marketing strategic planning and eventual execution.
You’re a bad fit for strategic outsource marketing if:
- Your company does not outsource any function. If your office cleaning folks are direct reports, then outsource marketing is not for you.
- Your company has trouble making decisions.
- There is a war between marketing and another department. Most often, there is friction between marketing and sales, but if it’s an all out battle for power, bringing in an outsource agency is only going to add to the fray.
- You want to outsource marketing strategy just to “save money.”
You’re a good fit for tactical outsource marketing if:
- You don’t need to be involved in every small decision regarding copywriting and graphic design.
- You can give meaningful, detailed feedback to designers and copywriters.
- Your company is good with meeting deadlines.
- You allow adequate lead times for design, reviews, and changes.
You’re a bad fit for tactical outsource marketing if:
- You or a group at your company needs to control the minutiae of marketing campaigns.
- Executive and marketing leadership are not comfortable turning over accountability to an outside agency.
- You often say to contractors, “I don’t know what I don’t like about this ad/logo/article, but just show me more options.”
- Your company takes longer than net 60 to pay invoices. Outsource agencies’ employees like to get paychecks.
- You have unrealistic deadlines and poor planning. If you need a new trade show booth to go to a show in two days, you’re not a good fit.
If your company is deciding whether to outsource some or all of your marketing campaigns, carefully evaluate the above criteria before you start interviewing agencies. Having the right expectations is key to a successful relationship with an outsource marketing agency.