Challenges of outsourcing Marketing for small companies

Frame 18

Lucia Pons

Jul 18, 2023

Challenges from outsourcing Marketing for small companies

As small business owners or marketers, we often wonder which social networks are most effective, how much we should invest in marketing, and whether to focus on online or offline attraction campaigns.

Marketing is crucial in today's competitive environment, but it's easy to mess up the strategies we put into place.😵

That's why many companies outsource their marketing services to freelancers or agencies instead of hiring professionals for each area. It's a smart move because it provides us with a level of expertise that we may not have, and it allows us to cover different areas that might not be possible with a small team.

But outsourcing marketing comes with many of challenges, and we need to be ready to face them head-on. 💪

What reasons might lead you to outsource some marketing actions?

There are several reasons why outsourcing marketing may be beneficial. But don't go thinking that outsourcing everything is the way to go! We believe marketing should be handled internally first and foremost. Still, sometimes a little external help is needed for certain actions.

Here are some of the most common actions to outsource:

  • Let's be real, we don't have a Super(wo)man working for us🦸‍♀️, and even our marketing manager may not know about all the different types of campaigns, formats, and executions that we want to try. Hiring agencies or freelancers with other profiles can give us expertise in new channels or more knowledge of the usual channels than we could get internally.
  • We know we don't have as much time as we'd like ⏳, even if we have a supermarketer (or are one). Making a video, designing a website, and managing ads or social media accounts takes a lot of time. Having extra hands can be very useful for your company.
  • Sometimes we have to adjust our budgets 💵. There's a trend towards outsourcing for just a few hours in specific areas instead of having a full-time profile. Outsourcing some positions can simplify (and reduce) costs if we can't afford a full marketing team. It may not be cheap, but we'll find more economic flexibility.
  • We don't always have access to the necessary tools📲. Hiring an outsourced professional might let you work with better tools and share the cost with other clients.
  • Sometimes we want to test new methods, but we need some flexibility to try out a project and see if it works before assembling a team. That's where outsourcing comes in handy. It's a chill way to test new ideas and bring them in-house later if they're a hit.

What challenges will we face when outsourcing marketing?

Outsourcing your marketing resources can be a real pain in the neck... Let's take a look at some of the challenges that might come up and some easy-peasy solutions to fix them:

Challenge 1: Maintaining brand consistency

Making sure your messages match your brand is super important. That way, your customers know what to expect from you and feel all the right things about your product or service. And it's also key to making sure everyone who represents you is on the same page.

Solution 1: Update the brand manual

One must-have to keep the brand consistent is a Brand Manual 📜.

The brand manual, typically created by designers, is a document that includes all necessary instructions regarding colors, typography, effects, graphic styles, and more that we should apply (here you can find this Behance template to create yours).

Besides that, you should also have a brand bible that includes your mission and vision, values, and buyer persona. This way, when you share it with external people who you're targeting, they'll know what you're all about.

Challenge 2: Don't control the data, just the bottom line

Many agencies provide bi-weekly or monthly summaries and then disappear, leaving us feeling like we lack control over our actions and investments.

Even if they do keep in touch and try to be more open with you, it's still easy to feel like you're not totally in charge.

Solution 2: Set clear, quantifiable, and brief objectives

If you want to stay on top of things, it's important to set some goals that you can measure on a regular basis.

Instead of just figuring you'll get 500 leads by the end of the quarter, break that down into smaller targets that you can hit each week or month. That way, you can make sure everyone's doing what they're supposed to and keep an eye on the big picture.

Psst...👀 If you want to double-check that everything's going according to plan, you might want to try Gretel, which allows you to monitor changes and modifications in campaigns and documents.

Challenge 3: Poor communication

When working with experts, it may be tempting to let them do their job without worrying about how they are meeting our demands. We assume that they will get it right because they are experts, and we don't dare interfere until it's too late and we're disappointed with their work.

Communication is a two-way street, and we need to make sure we're on the same page as our experts throughout the whole process.

Solution 3: Establish a single communication channel from the beginning

We recommend establishing a single communication channel with the agency or freelancer. Just meeting up once a week or a month to update data is not enough.

Why not add them to our Slack channel or create a WhatsApp group? Or maybe even set up a phone line where we can chat with the person running our campaigns if we need to.

This is not to micromanage them or anything, but it will give us more confidence in asking them to stop certain actions that we're not too thrilled about. Plus, we'll be more involved with the results, which is always a good thing.

Challenge 4: Inability to review launched materials

In order to maintain our brand and control our data, a third party should follow all the guidelines and brand manuals that we provide them. However, sometimes they might create something we're not feeling, or that doesn't vibe with our vision.

That's where we come in as the experts on our clients - we gotta give the thumbs up on everything that gets launched. Agencies can't read our minds, and they can't be at all the alignment meetings either.

Solution 4: Establish deliverable review systems

Many design agencies already have these processes in place and will propose deadlines and an approval process for materials.

They'll give you deadlines and a process for approving materials. To make sure everything's covered, you can ask them to tell you what points you need to review during each session. That way, you won't miss anything important. The same goes for performance agencies, too.

Challenge 5: Changes of mind and mistakes

We all make mistakes sometimes. It's just part of being human! And changing your mind is totally natural too! It's pretty common to spot errors in materials, like a spelling mistake or something that seemed like it worked but doesn't quite make sense after getting input from someone outside the team.

That's why it's important to think about how we can set up an editing process for these materials, especially when we don't have the resources or easy access to make changes.

Solution 5: Access to essential tools

We don't really need to become Photoshop or video editing whizzes, but it's we should be able to get into the platforms we're using to launch our messages.

If we end up putting out the wrong message, we need to be able to make some quick tweaks or kill the campaign ourselves. Especially if we're outsourcing social media, ads, or some other way to get to our audience. We don't need to be on top of everything, but we always need to own our marketing and be able to change or stop things whenever we want.

What can be outsourced in marketing?

When it comes to outsourcing marketing, it doesn't have to break the bank. We've all heard that we should never outsource our core departments. They're just too important to the success of our company.

But the truth is, we can outsource pretty much anything we want these days. Here are some of the most common things that companies outsource when it comes to marketing:

  • Social Media Management: It involves creating and scheduling content, managing social media platforms, engaging with the audience, and running ad campaigns.
  • Content Creation: This includes outsourcing the creation of blog posts, articles, videos, infographics, etc.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO outsourcing involves optimizing your company's website to improve organic search rankings, conducting keyword research, on-page optimization, and link-building activities.
  • Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: Including keyword research, ad creation, campaign management, and performance analysis across platforms like Google Ads, Bing Ads, or social media platforms.
  • Email Marketing: Involves developing email campaigns, creating engaging content, designing templates, managing subscriber lists, and analyzing campaign performance.
  • Graphic Design and Branding: They include tasks such as creating logos, brand identity materials, website design, banners, and any other visual elements.
  • Public Relations (PR): This includes media relations, press release writing and distribution, securing media coverage, and managing your company's reputation.
  • Market Research: It can help you gain insights into your target audience, industry trends, competitive analysis, and customer behavior.
  • Influencer Marketing: To help you identify and engage with relevant influencers to promote your products or services to your followers.
  • Analytics and Reporting: It involves monitoring and analyzing key metrics, generating reports, and providing insights to optimize your marketing strategies.

How much does it cost to outsource marketing?

Outsourcing marketing costs can vary depending on a few things, like what we outsource, where we are, and who we hire. On average, hourly rates can range from 50 to 200€, but they can go way higher or lower.

Sometimes, you can find fixed prices per service or project instead of hourly jobs. If you want to outsource social media, for example, you could find some monthly fixed prices that take care of networks for about 200-500€.

We recommend checking out this guide that breaks down the costs of outsourcing to an agency. But it's always a good idea to look for other articles that show average costs in your country.

Final thoughts 🧠

Outsourcing your marketing can be super beneficial for your company if you approach it right. But be ready for the process of working with a company that is not as "in-house" as you may like. Here are our key takeaways:

  • Don't outsource your core or strategic processes. Don't either outsource the whole marketing department.
  • Designate an owner to manage communication with the agency and set up a communication process.
  • Keep control by keeping all documentation and tool access internal.
  • Share your guidance and brand image and set up a process for validating the work.
  • Define objectives and short-term KPIs to monitor progress.