Is Your Business Selling In Spite of Itself? The Case for Outsourcing Your Marketing.

by Jennifer Beever, Marketing Consultant
Copyright New Incite, All Rights Reserved

There are many things to consider when making the decision whether or not to outsource your marketing. First, do you have time to do or manage the marketing yourself? Do you or your staff have the expertise? Do you have the budget for a full-time marketing staff? Do you have access to a variety of cost-effective resources?

One of the challenges business owners have is time management. Many are so caught up in the day-to-day activities of their business that they don’t have time to handle other activities like accounting, human resource issues, or marketing. Functions such as accounting and human resource are commonly outsourced because of the tax and legal ramifications of trying to do it yourself. However, marketing is often neglected. Small businesses manage to “sell in spite of themselves.” They gain enough momentum to keep steady cash flow, but they need to find a way to grow their business to the next level.

In the book The E Myth, by Michael E. Gerber, the author writes about how more than 80% of small businesses fail after five years. One of the main reasons, according to Gerber, is the inability to create a plan and delegate responsibilities to others to carry out the plan. According to Gerber, businesses are in infancy, adolescent or mature states, and there is a “true difference between an Adolescent company, where everything is left up to chance, and a Mature company, where there is a vision against which the present is shaped.1”

Marketing is often delegated to someone in the company who has no marketing experience or expertise. One employee creates a web site. Another employee creates a logo. Yet another resource creates an ad to run in a trade directory. These marketing pieces typically have different messages, different designs – often different colors! They are not planned, and they’re certainly not integrated in terms of message and image.

When smaller businesses consider hiring full-time staff to handle functions like marketing, the costs can be expensive. If the business can afford a mid- or even senior-level marketing employee, they have to include benefits and perhaps bonus costs as part of their expense. If we conservatively estimate benefits at 35% of salary and a 30% bonus, costs are as follows:
Experience     Salary     Benefits (35%)     Bonus (20%)     Annual Total
Entry     $40,000     $14,000     $8,000     $62,000
Middle     $75,000     $26,250     $15,000     $116,250
Senior     $120,000     $42,000     $24,000     $186,000

By comparison, outsource marketing resources don’t require a full-time salary and certainly don’t require benefits or other overhead. Outsource resources may work on a retainer, hourly, or project basis, with the latter being most common and probably most fair to both parties. Hourly, retainer, or percentage of project costs may range from $2,000 to 10,000 per month for a senior-level professional ($24,000 – 120,000 per year), depending on the type and amount of work that needs to be outsourced. A cost scenario for working with an outsource marketing firm might be as follows:

Senior-Level Pro.     Monthly Fee     # of Months     Annual Total
Hourly, Retainer, or % of Project     $2,000 – $10,000     12     $24,000 – $120,000

Beyond the issue of cost, business owners need to recognize that they will have to manage the marketing employee(s). Entry-level employees will require more management time and effort, mid-level employees less time, and senior-level employees even less.

By outsourcing your marketing, you can also contract just the right talent for your marketing needs. Many activities in marketing are highly specialized. Take graphic design for example. One graphic designer is a great illustrator and creates incredible logo designs. Another excels at producing collateral for the healthcare industry and non-profits. Still another is best at producing corporate and high-tech product collateral. You can’t practically hire all three or even two designers. But a good outsource marketing company has the flexibility to subcontract the right talent for your particular design needs.

Another benefit of working with an outsource marketing firm is that you get outside perspective for your marketing planning and implementation. Hiring someone within your industry may be safe, but it could also be limiting. Sometimes it is beneficial to get input that an outsider can provide from working with companies in other industries and environments. This outside perspective helps you to “think out of the box” when it comes to your marketing.

In summary, many businesses can benefit from hiring outsource marketing resources. The business gets a senior-level marketing professional at less than half the cost of a full-time employee. An outsource marketing company can flexibly assemble the right resources to execute your marketing plan and provide fresh perspectives and new ideas. In addition, a good outsource marketing resource should help you plan when it will be cost-effective to hire full-time marketing personnel and assist with the hiring and staffing when the time is right.

1P. 66, Gerber, Michael E., The E Myth, Harper Business, New York, 1995.

Author Jennifer Beever is a marketing consultant and founder of New Incite Marketing Analysis and Design. New Incite is the outsource marketing resource for growing businesses. The company provides marketing planning, implementation, results tracking and organizational development services for its clients. Contact Jennifer at 818-347-4248 or by email.

This article may be reprinted with permission of the author. Please contact Jennifer Beever at 818-347-4248 or by email for permission. Proper acknowledgement of the author, including name, company, and contact information, must be made with use.