Is Outsourcing to an Agency the Right Move?
According to HubSpot, more than two-thirds of B2B marketers outsource at least one aspect of their marketing to outside agencies. However, not every company has to. Some organizations are more comfortable and more efficient doing everything in-house, as opposed to potentially exposing their operations to external breaks in the chain. In fact, the Association of National Advertisers in the US reports that the number of member companies that had some of their marketing handled in-house has risen by 20 percent over the last five years.
Determining when and where to outsource to an agency is a difficult topic to consider, and the decision has gotten much more complicated given the current state of the world. Even the most successful businesses are reevaluating their in-house marketing capabilities and their operations.
Whether you’re wondering if a remote workforce and social distancing will impact productivity or making the difficult decision to let go of a marketing team to shore up expenses, there are several situations to evaluate.
When to Outsource?
1. You Don't Have a Great Handle on Your Data
Return on marketing investment is a notoriously difficult metric for businesses to measure, and that’s even true for companies that have their numbers in order. With closed-loop reporting, a large expenditure on the awareness phase of the buyer’s journey would be directly tied to a significant increase in sales, allowing you to truly justify the cost.
If you’re struggling here, a marketing agency can help keep you from spending money on tactics that can’t be tied back to sales. Using a closed-loop model, an agency can also provide data-backed insights on your marketing budget and where those funds should be invested across the sales funnel.
2. You're Task-Oriented Instead of Strategic
Simply executing marketing tasks isn’t enough. But even left-brained businesses have to keep close tabs on key metrics and need to optimize their marketing as much as possible. If this isn’t happening, then you don’t even understand why your marketing isn’t working. And, in that case, you should seriously consider how your marketing might look with a skilled agency at the helm.
3. The Quality of Your Marketing Content is Suffering
Just as additional viewpoints can help to identify issues between sales and marketing, another set of eyes can also shed light on issues with the quality of marketing materials. For a variety of reasons, in-house marketing materials can simply miss the mark — they might be outdated or somehow out of alignment with the needs and wants of the target audience. Whatever the case may be, a marketing agency can revise the materials as necessary. But, more importantly, the agency will help get those new materials to the right people at the right time — and that’s the true test of any marketing operation.
4. Your Business is Moving into Unfamiliar Territory
Many businesses have entered the marketplace thinking they knew their marketing stuff, and were quickly exposed as having no real knowledge or plan. These are the exact types of companies that would most benefit from outsourcing their marketing. It might cost a little more, but the knowledge, expertise, and security that an organization receives as a result of outsourcing gives the company the confidence to move forward. This level of comfort isn’t limited to new businesses. Anyone launching a new product or undergoing a rebranding can benefit from outsourcing. After all, as the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know.
5. There Aren't Enough Qualified Leads For Your Sales Team
Outsourcing isn’t just for those unfamiliar with the lay of their land. Businesses that know their targets — and know they aren’t hitting those targets — are also prime candidates for outsourcing. Marketing teams that aren’t producing enough qualified sales leads may not understand exactly why things aren’t working, but they do know that the sales team is spending way too much time qualifying these leads and not enough time selling. That outside perspective of an agency can help the company to understand what’s happening behind the scenes and clear up any underlying issues.
A Thought on Covid-19
An in-house agency can be a great asset and competitive advantage. At the same time, it also comes at a cost. While COVID-19 is disrupting consumer behaviors, it’s also putting some companies in an uncomfortable budgetary position. For some, it means no longer being able to support an entire in-house agency, or only portions of an in-house marketing team. For those companies, Icon could be a good solution, even if just temporarily. We are well familiar with the in-house agency model, and the speed and familiarity with which it works. If you’ve had to reduce the size of your in-house capabilities, look to Icon to help you meet both your immediate and long-term marketing and advertising needs.
Written by Jason Bender
With 20 years of brand building and digital innovation for clients like Mars, P&G, Ford, and more, Jason brings deep CPG, automotive, healthcare, and tech marketing experience to Icon as Chief Experience Officer. He blends the skillsets of creative and strategist to guide the execution of Icon’s customer-facing work across teams. His honors include Cannes, CLIO, and Webbys. He has been published in iMedia Connection and Inc, and has presented at events like NewCo and HOW Design Conference.