How to Know When to Outsource Your Small Business Marketing

How to know when you should outsource your small business marketing.

I probably don’t have to convince you that small business marketing is extremely important, so then the question becomes “Should I handle my small business marketing in-house or should I outsource it?

For most small businesses the answer to that question is that you need to do both. There are certain aspects of your marketing campaigns that you’ll want to outsource and others that you can handle in-house. That may sound like a cop-out answer, but it’s not. Read on.

If you understand the purpose of your small business marketing, you’ll be able to figure out this mix of in-house and outsource fairly easily and it starts with a simple question: “Who has to know you exist for you to achieve your goals?”

High-level small business marketing

If the director of purchasing at General Motors needs to know you exist, you need to outsource most of your marketing to a firm that can give you the polish and exposure it takes to make a lasting impression on high-level executives.

If you want to connect with hobbyists or people who live in the local Tri-Cities area, you can probably get by with less professional help. However, in this case you need to truly understand your strengths and weaknesses so you can get help in the right areas.

Marketing will create an awareness of your brand, soften up prospects and perhaps get them to approach your business. Going back to my original question, let’s focus on the first word “who.” It will take a sophisticated program that uses top quality assets to impress a corporate buyer at General Motors. This might include getting you featured in the media, placing glossy magazine ads, producing professionally designed direct mail pieces or deploying a myriad of other tactics.

If the “who” you’re trying to impress with your brand operates in a high-level commercial environment, you need to approach that person on the same level and most small businesses don’t have that kind of talent in-house. You might choose to farm out some aspects of your marketing campaign and handle others yourself. However, if you’re really “shooting for the moon” you’re probably best served by going with an experienced agency. Look at your competitors; you need to be at least that good and probably a little better.

Marketing to average consumers

If your audience isn’t quite so sophisticated – local or online consumers, for example – you may be able to do a decent job marketing yourself using in-house assets. But as I said above, you need to know your strengths and weaknesses. You also need to decide if handling marketing by you or your small business team is the most effective way for you to be spending your time.

I hinted above at another way to judge your small business marketing needs and it applies to consumer-driven businesses as well. Your marketing must be where your customers are. Today this often points us in the direction of one or more online social media platforms. Carefully examine those and you’ll soon learn how much – or how little – of your own marketing can be handled in-house.

If posting to Facebook is sufficient for your small business marketing, you probably don’t need too much extra help. However, if you need to create slick videos, that immediately elevates your requirements.

Play to your strengths

Finally, don’t try to do everything yourself, even if you think you can. There will certainly be learning curves for many of the marketing tasks you need to perform. Is it worth your time to pick up these skills knowing that even after you’re somewhat proficient, there are others who will do a better job?

Remember: if your marketing is worse than your competition’s, you lose. If it’s about the same…meh…it doesn’t help much. If you outshine the rest, now were talking!


Image: 300 Madison Avenue, © 2012 Eden, Janine and Jim, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.