Clearly, digital marketing is critical to success in the modern marketplace, but it’s also complex and changing fast. Social marketing, SEO, SEM, analytics, content strategy, CRM, Big Data–how do you even know where to start?
Let’s say you have a new offering, or you’re hosting an event, or expanding into a new region – these are all great opportunities to get attention and drive prospects to your organization. But in many cases, that means hiring more marketers, whether that’s adding to your own team or bringing in a marketing agency.
Here’s how to find the right mix for your business:
Balancing in-house and outsourced marketing
The right marketing mix will look different for each business. For some, all in-house marketing will be essential, while for others, completely outsourced marketing will be most effective. At the same time, some companies might benefit from using a mix of both. By taking the time to thoughtfully consider which option will be best for your business, your marketing strategies will result in success.
One partner who clearly has this figured out is Technology Services Group, or TSG, a UK-based IT services company. They’ve adopted a hybrid system that works very well: a small, in-house team, plus specialized help from three external agencies.
“I built for agility and sustainability,” Carole Beverley, TSG’s Group Marketing & Communications Director, told me. And balancing a dedicated, knowledgeable in-house team with highly specialized agencies gives her just that.
TSG’s in-house team consists of a:
- Content writer/senior marketer who writes the right messaging for the right audience, giving TSG’s marketing content consistency and credibility. He works closely with the Chief Technology Officer and R&D department to draw out all the features and benefits of TSG’s solutions. The content writer also works with the creative agency on campaigns.
- CRM & digital marketer who is responsible for managing the refresh and update of content on the website and presents analytics to inform lead generation strategy. The digital marketer also creates infographics and controls all CRM activity for managing email campaign lists.
- Social media manager who is responsible for all social media platforms and newsletters, plus the video strategy for amplifying products and TSG’s expert techs. The social media manager collaborates with customers to produce and amplify case studies, and monitors the blogosphere for opportunities to spread the company’s news.
- PR and events expert who takes special care of TSG’s top customers and is responsible for publishing win feeds, business positive articles and case studies. This PR representative also looks after the intelligent content library on SharePoint where colleagues go for product information and relevant resource and material.
Meanwhile, TSG also utilizes the services of three agencies:
- A creative agency for imagery and branding;
- A digital agency who reports on web analytics, keyword ranking, SEO visibility, and backlink activity. They also syndicate TSG-created content to relevant sites.
- A website agency who host the website and advise on customer journey mapping, user experience, and personas.
Having a mix of skills means being able to create the right blend on a per-project basis. For example, an agency handling campaign copy on their own may be slow because of their unfamiliarity with the product; having an in-house writer speeds up that process. And the agencies can work together when necessary – when TSG was building a new website, the creative agency helped determine the right imagery, for example.
Finding the right marketing plan for your business
One key thing to note is that Carole’s highly successful mix grew organically over time as TSG’s needs and goals evolved. Being willing to reassess and change the mix as needed is vital to any good marketing plan.
Here are some things you should be thinking about to assess your own marketing mix:
If you’re a small or medium-sized business, your marketing team may consist of one full-time employee, if you’re lucky! And while your staff are superhuman in the amount and quality of work they produce, even heroes have their limits. How many more people do you need to get the job done well, and can you/should you hire what you need? If you’re still building your marketing team, read what other marketers are saying about their best practices to get some industry insight.
Maybe you have a great writer, but you’re lacking an image expert. Or you have no idea what SEO is but you think you might need some help with yours. The skills your marketing team needs to succeed have changed, and it’s time for an honest assessment of the skills you have. How long would it take to hire new people or train your current team to fill in the gaps?
Be sure to be realistic when thinking about what your true marketing needs are. Do you need a marketing team for a few campaigns each year, or do you see your marketing needs continuing to increase for the foreseeable future?
This may come as a surprise, but outsourcing some or all of your marketing may be less expensive than hiring, particularly in an age where expert digital marketers can be hard to find. You can scale up or down quickly and easily depending on your project, and you’ll likely also get the agency’s ability to negotiate cheaper ad costs.
While it takes time to create a marketing team that can do it all, an advantage of in-house is no one knows your business better than you do. That can save time on explanation, drafting, all the back-and-forth working with an external team can require. Plus, in-house teams are often better able to jump in and take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
Is marketing where you want to focus your efforts? Or are you better off putting it in the hands of experts and spending your time on what you do best? One of the biggest factors in deciding on the right marketing mix for your business is whether or not you and your team have both the bandwidth and capabilities to make real results happen.
If you’ve made changes to your marketing mix lately, I’d love to hear how you made your decisions and how they’re working out for you—tell us about it on our Facebook page