Five reasons we don’t outsource our marketing

26 June, 2012 Marketing

Last week, one of our search marketers received a call from an SEO company asking why we were only ranking 15th on Google for a low-volume term that actually didn’t make grammatical sense.

The company guaranteed that Appliances Online would rank first for this keyword within weeks – though they themselves weren’t ranking for any obvious “SEO” keywords.

You probably all get these kinds of calls.

Of course, not all marketing companies are this unprofessional – there are plenty of fantastic agencies out there, many of which we used in the early Appliances Online years. The point of this article isn’t to offend any marketing providers, rather it is to explain why we do – and will always do – our marketing in-house and hopefully raise some interesting discussion.

Put simply, I think marketing is just too important to outsource. Here are my top five reasons why.

1. Time

You still need staff to co-ordinate outsource partners. Are you saving any time?

You can’t outsource everything and be entirely hands-off. You just won’t see results; or perhaps you will, but the strategy and execution might not be in line with your other channels.

To get the most out of an outsource partner you need to be working closely with them, and have them working with your other partners.

You end up spending your company’s time and your retainer time making sure every stakeholder and provider is across the strategy, and that everyone is on target. Are you really saving yourself time in the end? It’s likely you’ll end up hiring staff just to manage your partners anyway.

2. Staff

Do agencies ever really know your business? Find the best and keep them.

Company ethics and culture count for a lot – but any company is only as good as their staff.

If you’re working with an agency, chances are there are only a few key staff working on your account, and most of the retainer’s probably spent on reporting, meetings and communication. Why pay a premium to get a little bit of hands-on time with the experts?

Find the leaders in each space and get them onboard. Make your business and workplace attractive and they might even come on their own.

When you bring staff in-house, you also increase their accountability and passion for your business. They have a much greater knowledge of your entire business – not just their channel or division, and are likely to make much more informed decisions because of it.

Our marketing staff regularly exceed expectations: they’re constantly looking for new ideas and tactics to try and love when our business succeeds. I can’t imagine many agencies would offer the same level of attention, knowledge and passion.

3. Transparency

Are you confident in the results?

I’ve had great experiences outsourcing marketing in the past, as I said in the introduction. I have, however, heard of marketing companies who aren’t entirely transparent. Search marketing or media buying companies, for example, who inflate their cost price on top of the retainer.

Mostly, that isn’t going to be the case with a reputable marketing partner.

All the same, you’re guaranteed to have full coverage on data, costs and processes with an in-house team – which isn’t just positive for transparency’s sake: it also allows you to continually refine and change your tactics because you have full control and access.

4. Response

An in-house team is more flexible and reactive.

We’re in a highly competitive industry, there are new players popping up all the time, and we’re reliant on channels that are constantly changing.

I need to be confident that my team are flexible and reactive to any change in the market and can dedicate as much time as necessary. Our business can’t be bound by retainers or the capacity of an external company.

Having our marketing team in-house also allows the channel experts (SEO, PPC, social, email, PR, etc) to work with each other, ensuring synergies in our strategy. It’d be difficult to find one marketing partner who could effectively execute a strategy across each channel without outsourcing themselves, and it would be inconvenient to hire a separate agency for each.

5. Cost

When you have responsive staff that take ownership, love your business and you can see transparent results – it will be cheaper.

Of course, this last point is very dependent on your business and at what level it’s operating. When we first started out over seven years ago, there was no way we could bring our marketing in-house – it just wouldn’t have been profitable. We made sure we chose partners that we were confident in and could work very closely with, and brought sections of the division in-house as soon as we had the resources to do so.

Now that we’re larger and continuing to grow, however, we can’t afford not to have our own marketing division.

This post was originally published as a guest post on Smart Company.

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