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The advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing

Marketing and sales is where your business meets the customer and creates the revenue to pay the bills.
In this article I refer to outsourcing the bits of your marketing where you might not have sufficient expertise or time to do the work, allowing a specialist to enhance your work.

Will outsourcing your marketing help grow your customer base and revenue?

The question you need to answer is what do you do best?
What don’t you do well?
And would you be better hiring a specialist to do the things you don’t do well, or haven’t the time to learn.

If you haven’t the money to do this, then it’s down to you to learn everything you can. And honestly, if you can’t afford help, then you will have to be really honest about how your business is travelling.

Just over a year ago I got a call from a manufacturer. He was thinking of outsourcing his firm’s marketing as his marketing manager had resigned. He told me he wasn’t so concerned about the cost of replacing the manager, but was wondering what the benefits of outsourcing the position would be, and what I might bring to it.

The big issue as I saw it, or should I say red flag to me, was when the owner told me that he was just too busy to be involved in the marketing decisions himself, and just wanted the marketing done. The other red flag was that sales had deteriorated over time and new sales were needed urgently.

His brief was simple, he wanted more sales and told me that it would be my job to know what to do, not ask him what was needed.

Well, if there was an elephant in the room this was a whopper. While it’s smart to outsource to someone who might be able to get the job done better than you, it’s a wise business person who knows their business , where they want it to go and the best way to get there.

Outsourcing has to be a part of your marketing strategy

The simple fact is that there are many benefits to outsourcing your marketing implementation.

But not your strategy.

Seth Godin makes a solid point when he tells entrepreneurs that their job is to build a business bigger than themselves through creating a business model that is scalable and repeatable. And then to only do work you can’t hire other people to do.

Simply put, a marketing strategy can be as simple as deciding how your firm is going to compete:

  • the customers you want
  • the activities your firm will do and won’t do
  • how you plan to differentiate yourself so as to avoid pricing competiton
  • revenue targets & more

The strategic decision is how to implement your plans for growth and how to attract the customers you want and the sort of expertise you will need to do this.

It’s at this point you have to decide if you want those skills in-house or to outsource.

That’s the gist of this article, to look at the advantages and disadvantages of oursourcing your marketing.

Advantages of outsourcing your marketing

  • Access to all the expertise and capability not currently available in-house
  • Choose the experts who have the right fit for your business
  • Time required for marketing may not be a full time position, hence paying someone who can get things done quickly
  • No overheads or on-costs
  • Ability to focus on what you are good at, your core business
  • Saves time not having to learn everything you need ie. training

Disadvantages of outsourcing your marketing

    • Non delivery – time or quality not as expected
    • Hidden or unexpected costs, more so with freelance sites where the bidder may not have the expertise
    • Inconsistency, again this can happen with freelance sites, depending on how busy the freelancer is
    • Lack of contact, lax reporting
    • Not as passionate about your customers as you are
    • Expertise stays outside your firm
    • Outsourcing to overseas can have language barriers & misunderstandings


What might you want to outsource?

Web management – updates, monitoring, maintaining your website and social media sites
Content management & creation – blogging & posting, ebooks, white papers, editorial, video, podcasting, photography, articles, how to’s, illustrations etc
Social Media management – content creation, posting
Email list management – segmenting your list, publishing newsleters
Campaign Management – inbound and outbound
Website and Social Media reporting – interpreting the analytics data and reporting
Online advertising – Adwords campaigns and social media advertising

Remember that the person or company you outsource to may not be able to do everything, they in turn may need to hire further experts to assist them, so factor in the extra costs.

How much does outsourcing cost?

Freelance Sites – discrete services, ie. you may need several to provide a full range of services

There are a range of outsourcing options, especially with the freelancer sites such as freelancer, upwork and others. While there are some excellent freelancers available, the trick is being able to brief them properly and get what you ask for. Again, believe me, done wrong this wastes time and is frustrating.

Freelance sites can save you a significant amount of money if you don’t have the funds and know what you are doing.
Rates vary per task, from as little as USD$5-50 , just be warned though, you will get what you pay for.
Go too cheap, or go for the lowest bidder you may be throwing your money away.
I have tried many times and found the results can be inconsistent, even based on feedback provided about the freelancer. Sometimes you find a gem, but they won’t always be available if they are any good to start with.

You may also consider working with a marketing services company. That way you will be able to tap into their network of providers, saving you a significant amount of money over time. The reason being is that by paying them on an ongoing basis they don’t require the mark-ups they need to survive from taking on discrete, single projects.

What should you do?

If you aren’t getting the sales and attracting the customers you want, then it will pay in the long run to bring in some fresh talent with the expertise to get your marketing done. But the secret is in knowing what you want. One way to approach this may be to engage and work with your marketing consultant to create a marketing strategy prior to implementation.

That way you will be clear in your mind what you would like to achieve.

Then you will be in a better position to decide on how best to implement your strategy for growth. It may end up being a mixture of outsourcing, freelancers and consulting. The most important thing for you is to choose what will work best for your firm and lead to the outcomes you want and need.

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Nigel Rawlins

I work with professional women who are making the shift to self-employment. I have been running a marketing services company for the last 15 or more years, called 13th Beach Marketing Services Pty Ltd, working out of Geelong and Melbourne, Australia. I have been providing marketing services to a range of companies in Geelong, Melbourne and Brisbane Australia. The transition to Wisepreneurs Consulting is now underway.
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