Can You Afford Not to Hire External Marketing Support?

by Mike Smiley

It’s a question we often ask our clients – can you really afford not to hire external marketing support? And we are not implying that the solution is the Marketing Practice at Decision Associates. The question, though, typically rises amid discussions about the organization’s business development goals or, in the case of nonprofits, capacity building and fundraising objectives.

The primary options for marketing support – do it yourself, hire a freelancer or contract with a professional firm – all require varying degrees of you or your staff’s involvement. For many companies, money – i.e. “the budget” – is the biggest consideration. But it shouldn’t be. Whether you are a start-up shop with a staff of three or an established business with dozens of employees, someone (or someones) has to know and understand marketing, develop a plan and then implement it. And that means time away from running your business.

Which Option…And When?

It’s no surprise that a good marketing plan will require time, money and expertise. So how do you know when to handle marketing yourself and when to turn to those who do it for a living? In our experience, the decision of outsourcing or not typically can be made through the filters of price, quality, deadlines, experience and dependability.

Price. Yes, the fact is that cost is often a primary factor behind the decision of who to hire. Be sure to consider that at much less than the cost of one full-time marketing executive, you can have access to several freelance specialists or an entire firm of experts.

  • Quality. For most organizations, quality should be the most important driver in the marketing decision. After all, it is your brand, services or products that are on the line. Like most things in life, when it comes to marketing support, “you get what you pay for.” Even if the price is right, be sure to review the firm’s or freelancer’s other work and make sure their style and quality will fit your brand and expectations.
  • Deadlines. If your project is not ready for a major trade show or critical stakeholder event, it will not matter how low the cost or how good the quality. If you have a deadline that must be hit, this is probably the single most important criterion in your decision.
  • Experience. With more than 30 years of experience across multiple industries, the Marketing Practice at Decision Associates can get to the right marketing solution very efficiently. An inexperienced freelance, at a lower hourly rate could end up costing you more if it takes 40 hours for a project that would have taken a marketing firm half the time.
  • Dependability. Unanswered e-mails or phone calls that regularly go straight to voicemail will frustrate you and slow down any project. Enough said?

Other Considerations?

Organizations often think freelancers are the best option for a single project. Keep in mind, however, that most freelancers only have expertise in one or two specific areas. That means you may end up hiring additional freelancers for other tasks, which not only costs money, but also takes up much more of your time to manage the project.

Contracting with an experienced marketing firm helps to ensure that your brand, products and services are portrayed consistently across all channels. And since you are working with a team that is in regular communication with each other, your project is more likely to be completed on time and on budget.

And what about doing it yourself, that is, with internal staff? It is not only expensive to attract top-tier talent, but also very difficult to lure strong talent to your business in a competitive market. Bringing on and retaining the talent you need can be time-consuming, expensive and impractical.

Similar to using external legal and financial counsel, outsourcing marketing support can save overhead, recruiting and training time and benefits expenses while allowing you to tap into valuable expertise.

When Is It Time to Outsource Your Marketing?
  • Your revenue isn’t growing fast enough
  • You are focused on tasks, not strategy
  • Your marketing activities are thrown together
  • You are using the same channels for everything
  • You are missing marketing project deadlines
  • Your marketing staff (or person) is overworked
  • Your marketing doesn’t deliver the results you want

Remember, you don’t have to choose between all internal or all external marketing. However, if you notice your organization’s marketing shows some of the signs above, it may be time to consider outsourcing to a professional firm.