As we all know, without effective marketing a business cannot survive. However, there are so many roads to navigate when it comes to modern marketing methods that SMEs may lose sight of the best way to access their target market. They may feel they need expert support in this key function and turn to outsourced marketing.
If you are considering outsourcing your marketing and are unsure how to approach it, then we cover some of the key discussion points in this article.
Outsourced marketing is the process by which an organisation may utilise an external marketing agency or other providers to deliver marketing campaigns on their behalf.
A business may seek to outsource all or part of its marketing efforts. Some of the most common activities that businesses frequently outsource are as follows:
A survey carried out by Marketing Signals Limited (as reported by cybercrew.uk) revealed that 42% of UK businesses use a marketing service. The survey reported that many do so as they do not have the requisite skills (37%) or resources (35%) to handle it in-house.
This may well be as the internet age has welcomed a seismic shift in marketing philosophy, with many more communication channels being opened up. The opportunities provided by these new 21st Century marketing channels are great and varied, but these channels must be properly mastered to exploit such opportunities.
Marketing activities can be time-consuming. By outsourcing their marketing, businesses may be able to free up time and capacity to focus on other areas of their business. They may be able to leverage their time and energy more efficiently in the areas where they are able to provide a greater value-add. For example, this may be in the areas of a business growth strategy or product development etc.
A small business may see real benefit in procuring cutting-edge expertise in digital and other modern marketing methods. This is particularly the case if they lack those skills in their marketing department or internal teams.
Finally, they may see it as a cost-effective route to reach a much larger audience than would be the case if they attempted to deliver everything using an in-house marketing team. Outsourcing allows the delivery to be focussed and targeted with no distractions on the ‘day job’.
It is vital that all terms are clearly agreed upon between the client and the marketing agency before the service begins. There should be a contract (such as a statement of work) that covers all the areas that relate to the services being provided. It is vital that the parties agree on what is in scope and what is out of scope.
Areas such as advertising and photography spend and social media strategy etc should be agreed upon in advance and clear approval processes should be in place before campaigns are delivered.
In the absence of a robust contract, with well-defined milestones and deliverables, there is the potential for ambiguity and disputes to arise.
Also, communication is critical from the very outset. The agency should be left with no doubt as to the key features of the product or service, the core target audience demographics, and the desired messaging to reach that audience.
This should be the case throughout the entire engagement from the very first meeting. The risk otherwise is that the campaign being delivered is out of kilter with the goals and long term objectives of the business.
It is important to do your due diligence in your selection. You should seek out recommendations and ask for sight of a portfolio of work and client testimonials as opposed to selecting based on a fancy website or a glossy brochure.
At the pitch stage, ask wide-open questions to discover how they see the relationship working. Find out how they see their marketing campaigns shaping the future of your business.
You will finally want to properly protect your business's IP and sensitive information. Before sharing any information with a pitching agency, make sure they sign an NDA. This will help protect your organisation’s valuable information.
If you are unsure about the contractual side of marketing outsourcing or you are looking for general advice on any legal requirements in this area, you should reach out to a commercial lawyer with appropriate expertise.
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