B2B Marketing Blog

Written by Lisa Shepherd
on February 20, 2014

Deciding whether to develop an in-house marketing team or to outsource can be a difficult decision. Take this quiz to find out which option is right for your business.


B2B Marketing Outsourcing

Many business-to-business organizations do not place a high enough priority on marketing, or at least, they underestimate the resources required to do it well. For many B2Bs, marketing is simply a responsibility shared by sales, administrative assistants, and often, the CEO. But is this the best way to go? How many opportunities are being left on the table by not taking a concentrated and strategic approach to marketing?

Honestly, too many to count. In taking a reactive response to marketing, many companies are losing out. While some may survive by handing out business cards and logo-embossed pens at industry events, for most, that won’t be enough.underestimate the resources required to do it well. For many B2Bs, marketing is simply a responsibility shared by sales, administrative assistants, and often, the CEO. But is this the best way to go?

The path to purchase is changing, and many B2B companies without dedicated marketing resources are likely to fall behind. Digital channels have forever changed the way we do business, and today’s buyers are making decisions online before they ever set foot on the trade show floor. If your company’s message isn't in a buyer’s site lines the moment she’s searching for solutions on the web, your opportunity has dried up before you've even taken that business card out of your pocket.

To add to the complication, sales cycles are significantly longer, requiring multiple touch points and often, buy-in from multiple stakeholders. In the digital age, buyers have a reduced tolerance for sales calls, so communications from your company will have to arrive via alternate channels. Those channels could include email, social media, or digital display advertising, among others.

Do you think your sales team and admin staff are up to the task?

If the answer is no, one crucial thing you'll need to figure out early on is whether to build an effective marketing team in-house or to outsource the job. You may not have even known that outsourcing is an option, but it’s often a good one: Effective marketing is much harder than it looks! To achieve great marketing and grow your business, you'll need an integrated, strategic approach, and the right person (or people) to execute.

So which option is right for you?

As a card-carrying marketing veteran, I've worked for years with B2B companies that have tried to do their marketing in-house, but simply don't have the time, the resources or the know-how to do it right. For them, outsourcing is an efficient solution that costs less than hiring full-time employees and brings all the benefits (and results) of having experienced marketers and strategic thinkers on staff.

However, in the 18 years I've been working with B2B firms, I've also come to realize that outsourcing isn't right for every company. For some, building an in-house team might be the better option. To determine which model is right for you, answer Yes or No to the 12 questions below.

Quiz: Should you Outsource your Marketing?

  1. Is marketing a core competence of our business?
  2. Is there enough marketing work to keep a full-time senior staff member (strategic) and junior staff member (operational) busy?
  3. Do we know which types of marketing tools we should be using, from traditional to digital tactics, and, therefore, which marketing skills we need to hire for?
  4. Is our volume of marketing activity fairly consistent over the course of the year, rather than having peaks and valleys in which more or less activity is required?
  5. Have we achieved effective marketing in-house in the past?
  6. Do we have enough bandwidth on the executive team to manage and direct marketing in-house and ensure that it's accountable for results?
  7. Will we be able to keep pace with changes in buyer behaviour and marketing tools over the next three years through internal resources?
  8. Is it extremely difficult for us to put a marketing plan in place, given the pace of change in our business and the uncertainty of the target market and competition?
  9. Do we have a culture that would be negatively affected by outsourcing?
  10. Will it be difficult to find an outsourcing partner that has more marketing expertise than we do internally?
  11. Does the size of our marketing budget make outsourcing financially unfeasible?
  12. Would the consequences of outsourcing be extremely difficult to reverse if we were to decide to change course in future?

The Scorecard

If you answered 'Yes' to 8 or more questions, marketing should be an in-house function for your business. You have the internal expertise, resources and demand to drive an effective program.

If you answered 'No' to 8 or more, outsourcing is probably the right option. A lot of B2B firms have a gap between the level of expertise they need in marketing and their ability to pay for it. For companies that can't employ both a senior strategist and a junior operational person in-house, outsourcing can be an affordable way of getting the best of both worlds.

If you fall somewhere in the middle, explore outsourcing as an option to see if you can find a partner that will deliver better results than you can achieve internally—or can complement your in-house efforts with expertise you may not have on hand.

Whichever option you choose, remember this: good marketing isn't just about having a strategy and a plan; it's also about execution. If you don't have the people and budget to develop and properly execute a strategic marketing plan, your results may fall short of expectations. Whether the resources you choose are in-house or not, make sure they're a fit with your needs and will take your company in the right direction.

Great marketing drives business growth. Choosing the right marketing team for your company – one who can successfully navigate the complex world of B2B procurement – can be the difference between a good year and a great one.

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