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What is outsource marketing and why are small businesses doing it?

Most of us have heard of outsourcing some business processes (BPO) such as IT and HR. But what about MPO (marketing process outsourcing) or SMO (sales & marketing outsourcing)?  And why are so many small businesses jumping on the outsource marketing bandwagon?

Evolving business model

Today’s business climate is evolving at an astonishing rate of speed. The model for how businesses remain competitive and gain market share is also changing and forcing a new perspective on how businesses meet their goals. This dynamic business climate places heavy demands on an organization’s resources can be brutal.

For this reason, many small businesses, just like their larger counterparts, look to outsource marketing to help them accomplish their goals. Like IT and HR, outsource marketing involves outsourcing certain tasks or functions that are more expensive or slower to do internally,  and/or require skill sets or technology not available internally.

Leveraging outsource marketing benefits

Organizations tap into the outsource model for various reasons, but a few of the most common benefits include:

  • Build scale without adding fixed costs of salaries & technology
  • Increase speed to market
  • Add innovation and agility to marketing practices
  • Access top talent and fill skill gaps for specialized expertise
  • Add capacity for under-resourced or overwhelmed marketing departments
  • Allow management to focus on core business
  • Bring fresh insight from an outsiders’ expertise
  • Reduce costs and fixed overhead

With the benefits outsource marketing can provide, it’s easy to see why it is so appealing to small businesses looking to get ahead. But, where should you start? What should the process look like? How do you know outsource marketing will work for you? And, how should you pick a partner for outsourcing marketing?

Although every business is different, the answer to all these questions starts the same. By developing a marketing strategy.

Why marketing strategy is critical for outsourcing success

Many small businesses are nimble, creative and innovative. They’ve built a successful business based on these very characteristics. Awesome stuff…until growth begins to stagnate. This is where a solid business and marketing strategy becomes even more critical for the organization’s continued growth.

Forward-thinking organizations understand the value of strategic planning. By definition, a strategy is a high-level plan to bring about a desired future, or achievement of certain goals. A strategy helps a business develop a roadmap for where it is going, and how it is going to get there.

The same holds true for outsourcing. So, before you jump on the outsourcing bandwagon, here are a few reasons how your strategy can drive your outsourcing plan.  And, help deliver the right outcomes.

Provides picture for future success

Entrepreneurs and small business owners are notorious for developing plans for future success ‘in their heads.’ As the organization grows, a written strategic plan helps business leaders articulate their vision and plans to others so all stakeholders can work toward a common goal.

Strategic plans help clarify vision and focus and define overarching objectives. A strategic plan also helps garner consensus among stakeholders regarding the expectations for marketing contribution to achieving these objectives. This is a critical component before beginning your outsourcing journey because it reduces confusion that could result in unnecessary costs later in the process.

Refining your brand promise, message platform, target customers, competitive landscape, and value proposition should also be a part of your organization’s strategic plan. Many small businesses may not have a formal brand plan developed.  But don’t worry – even an informal plan is a good start. The idea is to have a good framework to start. Then, select a great outsource marketing partner with brand experience to help formulate and/or refine the brand platform for all stakeholders.

Developing a working strategic plan allows organizations to clearly articulate their vision and garner consensus on their goals and plans, thus allowing them to share a unified vision and expected outcomes with the outsourcing partner.

Aligns goals to tactics & resources

Once you have developed your overarching business vision, goals and brand platform, the next question is ‘how will you translate your vision into actionable plans?’.

Your business and marketing strategy is key to aligning your overall business goals to marketing tactics, and to resources needed to accomplish the tactics. Before starting your outsourcing journey, audit your internal resources, skills gaps, and technology to determine where you may need to the most support from your marketing partner. You’ll use this to help you make the best decision in which outsource partner you bring on board.

What needs to be outsourced?

Do you need help with strategic planning and branding? Do you need help implementing a marketing system or digital presence? Maybe you are just looking for a partner to augment your internal capacity gaps. Many outsource marketing agencies have a niche focus so now is a great time to properly vet your prospective partners to ensure their capabilities fit your unique needs and will complement your internal capabilities.

What actions and tactics need to be done?

Once you’ve outlined what needs to be outsourced, your partner will help you develop a tactical marketing plan for achieving your objectives. This plan should include channel mix and customer segmentation, as well as functional tools and technology needed to carry out each task.

Which activities should be prioritized to deliver highest ROI impact?

To see the fastest revenue impact on your business, prioritize the activities of the outsource partner and internal stakeholders on those that deliver the biggest bang for the buck first. By capitalizing on low-hanging fruit, you’ll establish some quick wins that set your partnership up for sustainable success.

 Who does what?

Many small businesses will have some internal marketing resources available. When setting up your outsourcing partnership, be clear on your expectations for assignments. And– on who is accountable for the results. Words you never want to hear are ‘I thought she/he was doing that.’ A great outsource partnership is about building collaborative relationships where all stakeholders are engaged, delivering upon expectations, and accountable for their specified contributions.

Establishes metrics and communication guidelines for success

Your business and marketing strategy will also help drive your outsourcing plan in two other critical areas. Defining what success looks like, and your communication process between internal and external stakeholders.

What does success look like?

Besides defining what needs to be done, what should be prioritized, and who is responsible for each activity, it’s also important to define how you will measure success. Start with the end goal in mind, say 10% increase in sales within a certain number of months. Then work backward to calculate the expected return for each activity in your sales and marketing funnel.

What information do we need to make data-driven decisions?

In today’s business climate, every single action can cost your organization time and money so it’s important to know which ones are paying off and which ones are not.  Sound scary? Don’t worry. Your experienced marketing partner will help simplify this and help create a marketing system that makes the pieces fall into place.

By continually measuring and monitoring the results of your marketing activities, you’ll have robust data to help inform decisions about which activities are working, as well as how to better align resources to gain more momentum.

How do we communicate?

In addition to assigning responsibilities and metrics, you should also work with your outsource marketing partner to establish how you will communicate with internal and external stakeholders.

Part of your communication plan should be a defined schedule of deliverables from your marketing partner for each phase of the project. Often, KPI dashboards and collaborative project management tools serve as a great way to maintain consistent, up-to-date communication to keep projects on task and within budget

Ready to leverage the power of outsourcing marketing for your business?

For many small businesses looking to compete in a tough competitive marketplace, outsource marketing may be a solution. Want more information on a marketing strategy or outsource marketing? Just give us a call!  We’re ready to answer any questions.

How Can DB Marcom Help?

Here at DB Marcom, we are devoted to providing helping our customers make the most of your marketing budget – no matter how big or small!  Interested to know how we can stretch your budget and start converting more profitable business? Reach out to us today, and our experts will help you out.

Debra Barcuch

Debra Barcuch is a Texas native and lives in Frisco, Texas. As President and founder of DB Marcom, Debra is crazy passionate about helping businesses knock out the competition through innovative marketing and partnership building. Often starting sentences with ‘what if?’, she is an avid life-long learner and seeker of super-hero results. Debra received her MBA from Southern Methodist University and has built a reputation for driving results in corporate, non-profit, and agency environments. When not working on client projects, Debra loves spending time with her two girls, tennis court shenanigans, and other thrill-seeking activities.

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