There are two main questions that arise when looking at marketing strategy as a SaaS, tech, or fintech business — one, how aggressive your marketing goals are, and second, if they're quite aggressive, are there enough in-house marketing resources to support that level of growth? Then comes the sticky subject of the non-negotiable marketing strategies that must be a part of your marketing plan. We get it; it's a lot.
There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to the question of outsourcing your marketing efforts. It's all up to the needs of your business and the goals you want to achieve. Many modern startups also begin by going hard at growth hacking, which is not uncommon and can yield amazing results.
But sometimes, when the business is working towards aggressive goals, the teams might simply be stretched thin, and other times, there may not be the right in-house talent available. The point is, if, as a B2B company, you are struggling to hit your goals or are simply behind in your marketing efforts, this may help answer your question: "Should I go for outsourced marketing?"
7 Signs You Should Consider Outsourcing Marketing
- You're playing roulette with your budget (however small or big): If you're throwing money at random marketing tactics without a long-term goal or any real marketing metrics to track, then it's time to outsource an expert that specializes in marketing and understands what it means to have sales and marketing alignment.
- Your content is outdated: There are a couple of scenarios in which this can happen — your old content (possibly 5-10 years old) is still gaining some traffic but was never optimized for "today," or your content hardly gets any traffic because it doesn't satisfy the present search intent of your target audience.
- There aren't any professional writers or copywriters on your staff: Your website says one thing, while your newsletter says something else. And don't even get us started on social. Sure, you need to tailor your message to each platform, but when there's no alignment in your brand messaging (and no one can really say what your brand is or what it stands for), it could be because you don't have a writer skilled enough to create SEO-optimized content that also aligns with your marketing strategy.
- Business growth is slow and it's not just seasonal: Almost all businesses face seasonal ups and downs, but if you're mostly seeing downs with your business, then it's time to outsource the expertise you desperately need.
- There's rapid growth and you don't know what to do next: It's not uncommon for B2B businesses to see a boom in demand, and maybe you didn't anticipate it so quickly or didn't anticipate it at all. For the business to steer in the right direction and re-invest all of that cash flow in channels that will work, you'll need someone with expert-level marketing experience.
- Your marketing team is overburdened: Especially when you're starting out, you may not be sure exactly how many roles you'll need on your marketing team. But when you're seeking help from the IT team or the business development guy every once in a while because the current team is at capacity, it's a red flag.
- Your business is...oops, page not found!: Your business doesn't really exist on the internet if people can't find it. This ultimately means there's a lot of work to do in building your brand and growing your online presence.
5 Signs You Don't Need (or Have) to Outsource Marketing...Yet
- You don't have the money: If you're a bootstrapped business, completely self-funded, and don't want to spend money on outsourcing services yet, there are ways to get your marketing game up and running. For example, hiring an expert (a full-time employee or independent contractor) who helps with only specific marketing initiatives.
- You can't find any vendors that truly "get" you: It's okay to not hire someone because they don't understand your business instead of feeling the pressure of hiring and then ultimately firing. More money and resources are lost that way than earned. Wait it out a little for the right agency/expert to come along.
- You can do without the help: It's probably not the best decision to outsource just for the sake of it. In fact, when companies tackle the tasks in house as one big team, they can surprise themselves with plenty of marketing and PR ideas that they wouldn't have otherwise thought of had they outsourced.
- You don't need full-time help: Outsourcing doesn't always need to be full time — it could also be an extension of what you're already doing. An expert can work as an advisor or consultant to audit your work regularly to show you how you're doing from time to time, as well as provide support on specific campaigns. That way you save a lot of money and also get expert help.
- Your client information is strictly confidential: Most businesses will follow NDA agreements and make sure no client information is shared outside of their team. But more often than not, the security of data and how the outsourced team is monitored can be taken for granted. There's also the potential risk of hacking if the client information is stored on the agency's cloud platform. Agencies and consultants should always be thoroughly vetted, and they should be transparent with their privacy policies before you ever sign on the dotted line.
When You Want to Leave It to the Experts
If you're ready to outsource your marketing efforts, the benefits are plenty. An outsourced team can dive straight in rather than playing catch up, offer top-of-the-market skills and experience, adjust to your ongoing needs as the business grows to save you a ton of money, and introduce you to all of the right digital tools. Outsourcing can be the first step towards monumental success.
What Can You Outsource?
Depending upon your budget and business growth needs, you could outsource any or all of the following marketing efforts:
All of which we can holistically call "inbound marketing" when focused on organic results. Additionally, you can outsource some paid marketing, including:
Step-by-Step Process to Outsource the Right Support
Vet Your Marketing Requirements
Some of the questions to ask yourself at this stage are:
- What are the immediate marketing goals we're struggling to achieve?
- What are the long-term goals we want to achieve?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of our current in-house team (if you have one) and how can we best use that? What are they struggling with? What do they do best?
- What kind of metrics do we want to track with this collaboration?
- How much budget do we need to set aside for it each month and can this be an easy recurring cost to the business?
- Do we need to outsource to replace the in-house team or just need an extension that complements us?
These questions may appear very simple at first, but when you dig deeper, some very useful insights can come to the surface that'll ultimately help you decide the best course of action and where to begin your search.
Decide on Freelancer vs. Agency
A million-dollar question, indeed! There are a number of independent consultants/experts and also agencies that offer a wealth of experience and knowledge in exactly what you need. Here's what you should think about when weighing your options:
- Freelancers typically work with an hourly rate or charge per project, whereas agencies bill on a monthly basis.
- You can set standard working hours for both a freelance expert and an agency; however, a freelancer will likely want to set their own hours and work according to that schedule.
- The expert/freelancer will be your point of contact and there likely won't be any others involved, while an agency might set a single point of contact but have a whole team working on your projects.
- Both would (and should) come with expertise and experience that can help with your marketing efforts.
Figure Out Your Marketing Budget
It's important to understand your marketing budget —both available and stretched — before you hire anyone. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How much monthly or quarterly budget are we currently devoting to our in-house marketing activities and what is the ROI? This would also include the salaries of all of the marketing team, in addition to the budget put behind the marketing activities.
- What's the tenure of the outsourced team we're looking at? Would this be a single campaign (or a couple) commitment or more long-term engagement, such as six months or a year?
- What's our marketing stack and how much does that cost us monthly? Would that significantly decrease or increase if we outsource an expert or an agency? Would that cost be taken care of by the agency or us? (Note that a freelance expert will likely not be spending anything on additional tools).
How much do you need to spend, anyway?
That's a good question. B2B marketing budgets have seen an increasing trend in the past few years and it's not going down. As a rule of thumb, your budget benchmark should be between 5%-10% of the business's overall revenue, but the specifics will largely depend upon the cost of the expert or agency, the funds that are currently available to you, and how much more you can get, in addition to the budget for specific campaigns. As per a CMO survey report, 8.6 percent of revenue is usually the amount you'll need; however, another report states that it's going to go up to 13 percent in 2022.
Marketing can be tricky sometimes, especially when you're in the B2B tech, fintech industry, or startup stage. There's competition, which is constantly building. There's a fight for the first page of SERPs, and there's an insane amount of work to generate demand organically and grow at a consistent pace. There are also so many options to consider with both outsourcing to an expert or an agency.
If finding the right agency and support is your current challenge outside of marketing, we work with all kinds of B2B businesses, including those at the startup stage, and help them make the most of their marketing spend, both large and small. Get in touch today for a free growth assessment and a mini acceleration plan to get started.