Is It Worth Hiring A Marketing Consultant?
Mark Elliott – Founder Sparks4Growth Ltd.
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7 Reasons Why You Should Consider Outsourcing Marketing
There are significant advantages to using outside resources for you marketing, here are my top 7 reasons:
(1) Lower Operating Cost– Although it’s true that good outsourced marketing doesn’t come cheap, there is still a huge cost savings when you consider reducing fixed overhead costs such as office space, salary and benefits, and recruitment, hiring and training expenses.
(2) Lack Of (In House) Expertise – The myriad of marketing disciplines in the field make it difficult for any business or marketing department to have employees proficient in all areas. However, taking advantage of consultants and contractors provides access to marketers with very specific skill sets just when you need them
(3) Quick To Market Time – If time is money, then possibly the most valuable benefit of outsourcing marketing is quicker project turn around time. When you hire a consultant for a specific project, it is often their top priority. Therefore you are likely to get the highest quality of work in the shortest time possible so you can begin to see the benefits of your marketing efforts sooner.
(4) Better Business Focus – Activities that usually take up the most time for any business are the ones the business is least skilled to do. Hiring marketing consultants to focus only on effective marketing strategy and execution leaves you and your employees more time to focus on your business’s core competencies.
(5) Fresh Business Perspective – Often permanent employees become so close to a brand, project or campaign that it is difficult to step back and view it from the perspective of a potential customer. Outsourced marketing professionals will bring new insight to your brands and campaigns that you may have missed or never considered.
(6) Lower Turnover Rate – The average entry and mid-level employee typically only stays in their job 1 to 3 years before looking for another position. Job-hopping has become much more the norm in today’s business world. Employing consultants and contractors eliminates the false pretences of long time employment and everyone knows where they stand right from the start of the relationship.
(7) Scalability – Constant and rapid changes in workflow caused by the economic climate can make it unreasonable to hire and fire employees as needed. Partnering with a strong marketing consultant firm makes it much easier to quickly get the personnel you need when you need to ramp up production and scale back again when things slow down.
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Why DIY Marketing Is A Risk
Marketing is a specialist skill that is often under valued or misunderstood. Some business owners would say that a Marketing Consultant is a person that most companies do not need, simply an unnecessary added cost. With the advent of easy to use Software Tools such as social media it can appear deceptively easy to ‘DIY’ your marketing. I have often seen business owners pass the task of marketing online to the Office Junior or Sales Staff who have little or no experience.
The results? If indeed they are measured at all, are likely to be poor. The outcome is that many business simply dismiss the value of Marketing based on no perceived results from all the ‘effort’. I suggest that this is like buying a ‘Power Tool’ but being unskilled to make a table. The skill is in training, experience and creativity.
What IS Marketing?
This is not a glib question and I am sure you have a clear idea already, I just wanted to give you my perspective. Marketing is, in my view, a strategic means to match your products or services, with a relevant market of customers in order to drive your business growth.
There are hundreds of scholary articles on the subject, this is not the purpose of this particular article, however I have seen hundreds of definitions from the greats like Drucker who famously stated “Marketing IS Business“ and goes on to expand:
“There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer… Because it is its purpose to create a customer, any business enterprise has two — and only these two—basic functions: marketing and innovation…”
If Marketing IS Business Then Surely I Can Do This Myself
Yes it is absolutely reasonable for any business owner, particularly those with a lot of experience in their field, can identify their clients and will be heavily involved in product development. Also from experience of trialling marketing in the past you may have a sound knowledge of what has worked, what hasn’t and what is cost-effective.
Which then means that hiring an external Marketing Consultant or outsourcing actions is a folly, a waste of money and what would they know about your business anyway. Or is it?
Systematic and Pragmatic
I watched the whole of MadMen (TV Series) which covered the lives of brand marketing specialists back in the 1950s onwards. Working on major USA brands like Pan-Am Airlines, Marlboro cigarettes and so on. Big money stuff, with big Advertising campaigns and budgets, exciting times for the emerging world of Marketing as a recognised business discipline. Although I use that last word loosely.
I really could see ‘no discipline’, even though I know it is a TV series, I also know that it is not far from the truth of an era of Marketing now long gone. Thankfully. The amount of money wasted, lack of accountability and rather tenuous concept innovations made me cringe!
Marketing today is more based on forecasting, based on ACTUAL results and measured closely to ensure value is returned. It is not perfect as no-one can guarantee outcomes, but the difference is by close measurement, analysis and testing the level of Financial Risk is massively reduced and ROI more accountable. In fact it is why I specialise in Digital Marketing and Analytics, note I don’t say ‘Web Analytics’ as websites are only part of the digital marketing story.
Setting Out Marketing Strategy
The basis of any good marketing strategy, for any size of business or business type, is to start with basics. Literally to ‘go back to basics’ by which I mean ignoring all the Tools, the gadgets, the CRM (databases). At least for now. Until a solid plan is in place then Facebook, LinkedIn, Websites are all merely distractions.
My first studies were at CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) and we focussed on Marketing Fundamentals and Strategy. Sounds really dull when you are 24 years old and all excited about Adverts, exciting product launches and the like all written up in Marketing Week. However I was wrong, the fundamentals of a marketing strategy are the bedrock for any plan, giving a clear direction, measurable outcomes of objectives and accountability. Essential and also partly scientific.
Planning Solid Foundations
So today I still go back to fundamentals when working with clients, starting with an understanding of my clients’ business objectives, digging deep into the behaviour of new or existing customer behaviours and analysing competitor behaviour. And so on. This is the REAL work of a marketer, delving into the world of the customer and market place to seek out growth opportunities. It is also something that, without working closely with each business owner, is hard to achieve. Consultative working always yields the best results and sharing findings at the research stages really help to shape the final plans.Then and only then do I flesh out the plan to look at tactics e.g. web, social media, print, email etc.
Hang On, This Is Just A Marketer Justifying His Salary
Absolutely. I never hide behind the fact that to be awarded MCIM (Member of Chartered Institute of Marketing) is not a ‘academic only’ achievement. To be awarded I had to demonstrate real projects, real results and carry out 5 years+ studies, all assessed by Marketing Professionals. You can also check out reviews and recommendations by business people I have worked with over the years they are there to see on my LinkedIn profile, Google Business Page and Facebook Page.
So I am happy to justify my rates based on results I have achieved for Companies, if I was a Porsche mechanic then they would charge higher rates than a mechanic apprentice. So as an experienced Marketing Professional I don’t think should Marketing be any different.
Worth 15 Minutes Of Your Time To Find Out More?
Please register your details and I will arrange a mutually agreed time to answer any questions you may have. A brief call or Skype of 15 minutes so you can decide on whether I am right for your company’s project.
Feel free to call me directly to discuss further – Mark Elliott, MD of Sparks4Growth Ltd. | 0203 758 3999 | firstname.lastname@example.org