The Pros and Cons of B2B Marketing Outsourcing

Why Marketing ContentAs a CEO or business owner, you have some tough decisions to make about your marketing and sales operations.  Traditionally, this has involved hiring one or more marketing personnel, and paying them a salary (sometimes with a bonus) as your in-house marketing department. I worked in this model for two decades, earlier as a marketing manager and later as the marketing (and sometimes sales) department head.

In many ways the in-house model works well, but it does have its challenges. Fortunately, you now have options for how to staff, manage and pay for your marketing needs that can overcome the challenges. The options range from hiring part-time staff to supplementing a small staff with an agency or consultant, to outsourcing the entire operation, to a hybrid of any these combinations.

Technology Makes it Possible

Outsourcing is much easier today for both the outsource provider and the client because of technology. Website optimization, pull marketing, social media, content creation and online campaigns can all be created, managed and approved electronically. For example, at Fusion Marketing Partners, we have managed clients across the city and across the country, with relatively few on-site meetings.

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Here are some of the positive aspects of outsourced marketing and why you should at least consider this as an option:

  • You can get a depth of talent that is unavailable at your budget level.
  • You can have access to a larger team of highly specialized experts.
  • You pay for only the services you need.
  • It is much easier to terminate a contractor than employee.
  • When you hire an outsource provider, it’s all about results.

But outsourced marketing isn’t necessarily for everyone. Here are a few reasons why this form of marketing may not be a good idea for you:

  • Domain expertise is a key component of successful B2B marketing and your outsource provider may not have a strong base of knowledge about your industry.
  • You give up some control when dealing with contractors instead of “wage slaves.”
  • Assuming you have the expertise to manage the program in-house, you can usually achieve better metrics for a given budget amount.

Due to the tough job market there are many good marketers available to help you on a contractor basis. The danger is that if you hire an individual instead of a company, you can lose your outsource contractor if they decide to take a full-time position. Of course hiring someone as a contractor can be a good way to evaluate a B2B marketing person that you are considering for an in-house position.

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Christopher Ryan

Christopher Ryan has 25 years of marketing, technology, and senior management experience. As both a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.
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5 comments

  • John Leavy July 9, 2010   Reply →

    Chris,

    Great post. People should not forget to check the references of the outsourced contractor to make sure they have successfully executed a similar marketing campaign and have had positive results. Enjoy your writing…keep it up.

  • Tina July 9, 2010   Reply →

    I think this is a great discussion point and one which many businesses, especially small businesses, have on an ongoing basis. As you have stated there are pros and cons for both. I think if you develop a good working relationship with a company in which you outsource your marketing, and you they are up to speed on your products, etc..then I think the flexibility is definitely worth it. If the relationship breaks down and your work is not getting done then I think you need to evaluate and decide if bringing it in-house makes sense. Great article. Good foundation to continue having these talks…

  • Kimmo Linkama July 9, 2010   Reply →

    I can only comment for one part of marketing outsourcing, namely, copywriting. Then again, marketing is all about The Message, and it’s us copywriters who craft that message.

    So bear with me and let me tackle the cons:

    * Domain expertise is a key component of successful B2B marketing and your outsource provider may not have a strong base of knowledge about your industry.

    Experienced freelance B2B copywriters are quick to grasp the essentials of ANY industry. Not least because they have probably worked for someone in your industry before — and perhaps companies facing the same issues in other industries. Automatic outside-the-box thinking, if you will.

    * You give up some control when dealing with contractors instead of “wage slaves.”

    Sorry, but I think this is a huge misrepresentation. Unless I’m getting it all wrong, you’re implying that when an employee’s income is dependent on your judgment of his or her performance, the job tends to be executed strictly as instructed. With external contractors, you have exactly the same power. If the agreed result isn’t delivered, you don’t pay. As simple as that.

    You could also regard losing a bit of your control as a good thing. Your “wage slave” won’t tell you that you’re just about to step into quicksand, because slaves are conditioned to shut up and obey orders. Independent professionals, in contrast, do their best to provide what the client NEEDS vs. what he WANTS. These can be two totally different things.

    * Assuming you have the expertise to manage the program in-house, you can usually achieve better metrics for a given budget amount.

    A certain output requires a certain input. As far as I can see, it doesn’t matter in the least whether the output provider is on the payroll or hired from outside. If I’m getting this wrong, please correct me.

    You will have noticed I’m talking about freelancers. That’s because I am one. I’ve written about these same issues in my blog before, so if you’re interested, make a little detour to the post here: http://bit.ly/aKHmkd

    I would like to especially point to the two other article links at the end of the story.

  • cryan July 9, 2010   Reply →

    Kimmo, thanks for the thoughful reply. You certainly made some good points. Like most other things in life, when deciding whether the pros of outsourcing outweigh the cons, the answer is “it depends.” I have spent many years as a marketing exec on the client-side and also as a marketing services provider so have seen this issue from both vantage points.

    Over the years (decades) I have been fortunate to work with some fantastic employees and equally fantastic contractors and believe that my team at Fusion Marketing Partners is first-rate. Naturally, I want B2B companies to use us for their outsource requirements. But, in my opinion, it is very hard to beat a well-oiled team of in-house marketing professionals. However, this is not bad news for freelancers and marketing outsourcers because high-powered internal teams are not all that prevalent.

  • john July 8, 2014   Reply →

    Informative article, the article helps me to improve my knowledge about b2b outsourcing. Thanks Mate for providing useful article.
    knowledge process outsourcing in India

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