B2B Marketing Blog

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Written by Lisa Shepherd
on March 25, 2015

A lot of companies think that an in-house marketing manager is the only way to get effective marketing.

But for many small and mid-sized business-to-business companies, in-house marketers don't work out. Here are 4 ways to know if you should consider outsourced marketing.

Consider outsourced marketing

#1: You aren't sure what skills to look for in a marketing manager

You may be able to identify the need for a marketing function in your company, but do you know what to look for in an in-house hire? Since marketing is new to many B2B companies, they often don’t know what skills a marketer needs or what questions to ask in an interview.

With an outsourced marketing firm, there’s no massive interview process—they know what questions to ask you to give you the guidance and help you need.

#2: You have had high turnover of internal marketers

“We’ve been through five marketers in the last four years.” That’s the complaint I heard from the CEO of a professional services company with whom I spoke recently. It was proving challenging to find someone who could handle the company’s marketing demands at a price they were comfortable with.

While five marketers in a few years is a lot, this CEO’s situation isn’t uncommon. A lot of B2B companies struggle to find good marketing talent. Is that a sign that something isn’t working? Absolutely. It’s not just the marketers—it’s also the companies.

Business-to-business companies tend to hire younger marketers, mostly because they’re cheap. But you get what you pay for. A junior marketer often won’t have enough experience in the B2B space, and will require a lot of hand holding. You don’t have the time to manage that junior marketer and get him or her up to speed, so the marketer doesn’t deliver. Your relationship with the marketer deteriorates quickly and you’re left looking for someone else to fill the job.

Outsourced marketing gives you a team of B2B marketers with experience getting marketing up and running in various industries, so they don’t need to be managed or directed. And because you’re not paying their full-time salary, they’re more affordable than a dedicated staffer.

#3: You need a senior marketer, but can’t afford one

An advanced manufacturer decided it needed to do some marketing. The company hired the daughter of the CFO, who had recently graduated from a marketing program at a Canadian university. This young woman had strong digital marketing skills, but knew little about the company’s product and customer base, or about business in general.

The newly installed promoter decided to market the company through thought leadership, releasing white papers and technical articles. To do that, she needed the time of senior engineers, who responded warmly enough but never committed to working with her. The result: she never got any solid content developed, the thought leadership program never took off, and the company’s marketing efforts failed to produce anything.

This is a distressingly common scenario. Young marketers often don’t get the respect of the people in the business that need to be involved in marketing, so marketing is ignored. A more seasoned marketing professional would have the marketing, project management and business experience to corral the senior stakeholders involved in your company’s marketing.

But that kind of skill usually comes with a six-figure salary—one your company may not be able to justify. Outsourced marketing can get you that level of expertise without the expense of a full-time salary.

#4: You're not sure what results you're getting from marketing

A number of years ago, the CEO of a $5 million software company was lamenting his company’s failed marketing efforts to me. “We spent a quarter of a million dollars on publicity last year and I feel like all we got from it was a bunch of pens with our logo on them,” he said.

I’ve heard similar stories from a surprisingly large number of CEOs. The problem is usually that the company isn’t investing in the right marketing tactics. Not all marketers are up to speed on what actually works in the B2B world, so your in-house marketer may not be as effective as you think. An outsourced marketing team will be well versed in the tactics that work in your niche, and you’ll get real results to show for your spend.

Outsourced marketing teams are also highly motivated to deliver results because they know they have to earn their keep; internal marketers can coast along more easily.

• • • • •

More and more B2B companies are starting to think about marketing. In many cases, business leaders think that having an in-house marketing manager is the only way to do it. Sometimes, that’s true. But if any of these scenarios sound familiar, your company would probably benefit from an outsourced marketing team.

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