When to Call the Experts: Outsourced vs In-House Marketing

expert word sticker on a blue background

Let me tell you about the time I (accidentally) flooded my apartment because of a leak in my kitchen sink.

I performed a Google search for leaky sink and found the “best drain pipe joint filler compound” on the market. I bought it and followed the instructions … but it didn’t work. The leak was still there.

I went ahead and, toolbox in hand, read some DIY guides and watched a couple of how-to videos. I had decided to take matters into my own hands, take out the leaky joint under the sink, and replace it myself.

Nope. Bad idea. Those YouTube videos never mentioned how messy it was.

Long story short, my kitchen flooded and I was out at least a couple hundred bucks. I should’ve stuck with what I know, living in the apartment. If only I had called the plumber from the start.

The plumber got to the apartment and fixed it like it was nothing.

That’s one of the most common problems with small businesses — most small business owners are used to doing everything themselves, including the marketing. After all, that’s how they got their business running. The DIY route definitely leads somewhere, but is that the full potential of what your business can do?

Is DIY marketing holding your business back from reaching its full potential?

How much money is your marketing department saving you? How much money is it making you? Those are some of the questions your marketing department should be able to answer. In this day and age, many companies are realizing that outsourcing their marketing responsibilities can be a good idea. But just how good is it?

When deciding whether you should outsource your marketing efforts, first you need to fully understand your company and its capabilities.

Outsourcing can help companies produce higher quality work while reducing their operating costs, making sure every gear in the machine is expertly performing its function for the common goal. Outsourcing can save companies lots of money because they do not have to pay benefits such as social security, workers’ compensation, Medicare, and so on to those who perform work on a contract basis.

Additionally, those who perform the outsourced work typically do the job from their own office meaning the company does not have to provide resources for the additional employees. Although these costs may seem trivial, they can really add up in the long term.

Are you investing in success?

Small to medium-sized businesses can particularly benefit from outsourcing their marketing departments. When launching a business, it’s critical to do what you are good at; sticking with your core competency is a must. If you’re awesome at creating a product, then focus on that and let experts in their respective fields come in and execute other business functions.

If division of labor is not convincing enough, consider this: It is not only expensive to attract top-tier talent but also nearly impossible to lure fantastic hires to your business in competitive markets where opportunities are plentiful. If you are a small — but growing — business that hasn’t distinguished itself from other players in the market yet, bringing on the top-notch talent you need can be time-consuming, expensive, and impractical.

Outsourcing those departments that you don’t have the expertise in will save you overhead, commitment, recruiting time, training time, and expenses of full-time staff, while allowing you to tap experts without the associated costs.

The benefits of an outsourced marketing department

If you’re a startup, a small business, or a business focused on other growth strategies such as product development or customer service, bringing your marketing efforts to an agency that can strategize and execute across multiple marketing channels could be the answer.

Additionally, you can get all the perks of having a fully staffed marketing department while staying within your budget. Outsourcing lets you tap these experienced experts at a fraction of the cost with no long-term commitment.

Some of the other benefits include:
Lower Costs: At much less than the cost of one full-time executive, you get an entire team of experts.

Unlimited Access: The right firm will get you complete access to all of your accounts and data, and will actually teach you how to use them — complete and total transparency.

Free Up Your Time: You save on all of the time it takes finding someone or trying to learn the entire marketing field yourself.

Experience: Your business will benefit from the experience the outsourced marketing team brings to the table, such as familiarity with your target markets and the many marketing channels and opportunities available.

The alternative, trying to hire an entire team in-house, can be an expensive endeavor and usually doesn’t land you the same level of expertise and experience.

The cons of outsourcing your marketing

Full disclosure: given that we are an outsourced marketing department, we have a strong bias. However, we realize there are benefits of having an in-house team or even in-house person. At 8 Signal, we think it’s great to have a full-time marketing person on your team. We love to support what you’re doing!

One drawback to outsourcing is the risk of choosing the wrong agency.

Risk of hiring incompetent marketers
As a small business, you can’t afford to make costly mistakes, so you need to be 100% sure that the marketing agency you choose is one of the best in the industry. Take your time and research the potential agencies you’ll hire, and spend some time generating criteria to select the right professionals.

It may be easy to find a marketing firm, but without criteria to choose the right one, you risk hiring people who can’t seem to meet deadlines or who simply fail to complete your requests.

Outsiders may care less for your business

Some argue that outside marketers may see you as just a client, an assignment, a task that should just be completed carefully and on time, nothing more. Outside marketers may not be as enthusiastic about the growth and prosperity of your business as your own employees, while in-house marketers might feel more connected to your business and be more eager to serve it well.

Let’s admit it: as business owners, we understand that you’re bound to be more passionate about your own business than any outside agency could be. For you, your business is your livelihood and possibly your dream come true. But for a firm you hire, you may be just one more client among many whose needs must be simultaneously met. But a marketing agency with a strong sense of professionalism will still prioritize making you a happy customer (cough cough, wink wink).

Finding the right fit with an outsourced marketing company

Of course, outsourcing marketing isn’t going to be the right decision for every business, and your job as the “pilot” of your company is to know if it’s right for your capabilities.

If you are a well-financed, larger organization, it is important to have an internal full-time marketing person as well. Outsourcing your marketing team is a big decision and it can bring plenty of value by putting your organization in expert hands. The key is to truly know and understand your company and its needs, so you make the right choice for the future of your business.

You may be able to measure how much passion prospective firms have for serving clients from what they say about their company values or what their representatives emphasize when meeting with you. A client-focused agency will seek to ascertain your marketing goals and needs through well-considered probing questions before taking you on as a client. In contrast, a firm that is only interested in getting your money will focus less on identifying your needs and more on getting you to sign a contract.

Hiring an outside marketing firm should be approached as a calculated risk. Take a clear, hard look at potential pros and cons. Identify the potential opportunities and risks, and minimize your risks by carefully screening prospective firms before making a hiring decision.

Do you think outsourcing your marketing is a good idea? Why or why not? Share in the comments!