Many enterprise-level companies enter a phase of using outsourced marketing agency partners before they build everything in-house. In our case we are often called upon to act as an outsourced marketing department for our clients while they grow.
In fact, most companies that grow large enough to support in-house marketing departments still continue to outsource many of their marketing efforts, especially their on-line marketing, because it is often more affordable, more effective, and they’ve found good outsource partners they can trust and rely on.
So the question arises: “Do you outsource everything?” “How about strategy?” Branding? Search Optimization? How about email? Social media? Mobile? Creative?
In fact, it is usually best to define what the scope of Internet marketing actually covers before trying to answer the question. Simply put, online (internet) marketing is the means by which you communicate your business’ and your products’ value to your online consumers.
It is important to remember that Internet marketing is a wide field that encompasses search, social media, email, mobile, and even branding — this means that, similar to traditional advertising, you need to work closely with your new agency partner to effectively coordinate and maximize your Internet marketing efforts.
The Vast Realm of Internet Marketing
A primary reason why companies outsource some or all of their marketing function is because of the sheer vastness of its multiple fields, all of which are equally challenging and essential. The horizontal and vertical knowledge demands are often best left to those agencies that focus on certain parts of the process. But it’s a balancing act — a subtle tug-of-war between client and agency, because the agencies know what they’re doing, but it’s your business.
You have to find the middle ground that successfully bolsters the growth of your business; avoiding the extremes of control and direction coming only from the agency or only from your company. Otherwise, you will limit the profitability of the partnership for both of you.
In our experience, there are great advantages to the organization when bringing in an outsourced agency, but there are three major challenges that larger companies should focus on if they are considering this solution. These include:
Large businesses often struggle with ensuring that their internal communications efforts are efficient and effective due to the sheer size of their organization. This same challenge can be present in outsourcing, where communications accuracy or timeliness may suffer and projects may become delayed unless protocols are set up in advance.
- Your goal is to optimize and streamline your communications, and ensure that the lines of discussion between agency and client are unencumbered.
2. Awareness and agreement
- Even without outsourced marketing partners, businesses often experience problems gaining agreement across all levels of the organization from management to the rank-and-file.
This can happen when department managers possess some valuable insight that their employees aren’t aware of because of company confidentiality issues or simply a lack of awareness on the manager’s part that the employees, in fact, don’t know what the manager knows.
The same issue can exist when agencies enter the picture — they’re not at the center of the company’s system, they’re external to it. The solution is to implement a standardized method of ensuring awareness such as Salesforce® or Highrise® Project Management Systems where the agency is a part of the PM system.
3. Strategy and creative control
For the most part, this challenge stems from the fact that businesses need the expertise of agencies, but once they avail of it, they hesitate to embrace much of what their agency recommends either through fear of something new, or a fear of not achieving their goal.
This is a very good way to waste money invested in outsourcing.
The limitations of strategy and creative control are somewhere in the middle: you need to know your business best and have an idea of what direction you want to take it, and you then need to trust that the marketing expertise of outsourced agencies will help you get there.
Remember, it’s your business, your outsource partners merely help you develop the most efficient and effective ways for you to reach your audience through as many digital marketing channels as possible.