When running and growing a small business you will inevitably come across a challenge as to how to resource your marketing efforts and whether you should outsource your marketing efforts or employ someone in-house to take control of marketing and do the majority of work for you. There are lots of pros and cons of both these options. With considerations such as cost, flexibility, brand clarity and expertise all playing a massive part in making your decision. Below we take a look at these considerations and give an outline of both in-house and outsourcing marketing.
Money, money, money. It can seem like all you think about as a small business. Making sure there is enough to pay your staff, cover expenses and hopefully put a little money away as profit at the end of the month. So, when it comes to marketing it is likely you will want to make the cheapest or most efficient choice. Of course, you will also want to make sure that the quality of the marketing is equal and representative to your brand values. It is a challenge to say whether in-house or outsourcing is the most cost-efficient way to tackle your marketing. This usually depends on exactly how much marketing your business is doing in order to sustainably grow. Using an in-house marketer is most beneficial when you are continuously working on marketing projects and have marketing channels that need constant maintenance and communication with customers such as on social media. The hourly rate for an in-house marketer is likely to be significantly less than that of outsourcing. To maintain the cost-effectiveness of an in-house marketer you need to make sure there is a constant stream of work for them to complete. Outsourcing can be more cost effective when you are working larger, specialist or more sporadic marketing projects. It will also help largely with budgeting as often agency or freelance marketers will offer a cost for the full project. However, per ‘hour of effort’ it is likely to be a lot more expensive outsourcing than keeping marketing in house.
Keeping small businesses running relies on flexibility and their ability to remain agile when situations change. For the main part, outsourcing your marketing offers much better flexibility as you can give and stop work much more easily based on factors such as funding. For example, by outsourcing you can get yourself a shiny new website if you have had a good month and have some funding left in the bank. But on a month where you are strapped for cash you can put these projects off. In contrast, having marketing in-house you have to pay that individual/s regardless of how well the business is performing. This can be problematic in lean months.
Marketers need to understand your brand. They represent you in the market and therefore them knowing your tone of voice, understanding your values and being able to communicate those effectively is key. Bringing a marketer in-house is going to allow that individual to get a lot more familiar with your brand over time and also see first-hand the culture of your business. This is likely to mean your brand is more accurately represented in the communications that they produce. Although it is very possible for freelancers or agencies to understand your brand when working on a long-term relationship, you have less control over that. For example, an agency may swap out your account manager or the creative team and therefore the new individuals will be starting fresh on understanding the brand.
This may seem like a sweeping generalisation (and it is)…but in-house marketers, especially in small businesses tend to be general marketers. On the flip side, working with freelancers or agencies allows you to tap into expertise for specific areas of marketing such as social media, influencer marketing or website design. Tapping into this expertise is likely to produce great results for specific projects, produced by a much greater understanding of the particular area of expertise. In this article, we have covered off some of the considerations which should be taken when deciding whether to take marketing in-house or outsourcing. Fundamentally there are pros and cons to both of these methods of marketing which should be taken into mind and aligned with your business situation. At this point it is worth noting that many successful small businesses actually use a hybrid approach, taking on one specialist in-house marketer who deals with the day to day marketing as well as working with freelancers and agencies to get larger more complex projects done. Check out the entire blog series on planning your small business marketing: Want to read the entire blog series as an ebook? Download now and get access to loads of other goodies too!
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