To In-House or Outsource Marketing? That Is the Question

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Much like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the software marketer faces a difficult decision: whether to execute certain marketing projects by tasking internal resources or by hiring outside help. Though the decision isn’t so grave as being or not being, it’s a pivotal one that can determine the success of the project, and it can potentially impact more than just the task at hand. When deciding if a certain task should be in-housed or out-sourced, a good rule of thumb is to outsource the execution of a strategy, not the formulation of it.in house or outsource mktg

If you’re still not sure what to do, answer the following questions:

1. What is the long-term value of the function?
If a certain function is a consistent driver of value and that function will be performed regularly for the foreseeable future, it’s a good idea to task an internal employee with performing it. That way, a single individual (or group of individuals) can “own” it and develop best practices toward streamlining that task and becoming more efficient.

2. Can internal expertise address the challenge?
One great way to decide whether a task should be done internally or externally is look at how the skill sets of internal resources match up with the project. This is fairly obvious, but don’t be afraid to sub-divide tasks to find out what your team can really do.

For example, you might want to overhaul your webpage. Unfortunately, no one on your team knows coding for web design. Although you’ll certainly need to look outside for someone to code the site, think about what expertise you already have. Maybe you have a great designer on hand, and you can create a hybrid team to tackle the task; your designer can design, while the outside coder can code.

This strategy will reduce the cost of hiring outside help because the external resource’s time will be dedicated to filling in small gaps rather than tackling larger endeavors that take more time and cost more money.

3. Is it a big idea you want to test-drive?
Assigning a new and unproven task to external resources can be a great way to try something new without committing to high initial costs associated with hiring someone, buying new equipment, or purchasing new computer applications. Outsourcing in this situation will allow you to test a new strategy without risking so much capital.

It’s also smart because you can see how someone with more experience approaches the task. You can always use what they produce as a starting point for your own future iterations of the project and refine their work using your own understanding of your company’s unique position and needs.

4. How do you like to supervise?
If you are hands-on in your management style, outsourcing tasks can complicate operations immensely. Presumably, an external resource will not work in your office, and the frequency with which you communicate will vary. As you examine your options, consider your supervision style and how involved you want to be in the process for a particular project. Either find an outside resource who will work with you to allow your desired level of involvement, or assign internal staff to the task for more control.

5. Can you handle the volume of a project?
Even if what you want to do is within your power, how much of it you need done might exceed your capacity. For example, running detailed analytics that take into account every click, prospect, or email can be a huge task if you’re dealing with many data points. Outsourcing rigorous calculations or other massive tasks can be a huge time saver, and it has the added bonus of being innocuous so that it won’t negatively impact brand consistency.

The above questions should help you figure out whether a marketing project should be tackled by your team or delegated to outside resources. If you do decide to outsource a project, remember these tips to help make the most of it:

  • Out-of-house marketers should be treated as partners, not contractors
  • Find people who will impart their expertise so that you don’t get assistance with just one project, but instead, you gain perspective for future projects
  • Don’t hire Hamlet – I hear he’s indecisive

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About the Author

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Alison Klein

Alison Klein is a Marketing Assistant at Capterra. She helps with all marketing-related tasks and reports on customer relationship management. When she’s not covering the software industry, you can find her writing, enjoying good food, and listening to Jay-Z.

Comments

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I think the most important element of this article is the statement that out of house marketers are partners, not contractors. There is so much to learn if you engage outside partners as critical business resources and not “just a vendor”. Great article and very insightful!

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