Outsourcing your B2B marketing efforts.

The world of B2B marketing has become more and more complex over the last ten years.   We are seeing many clients struggle with this complexity and the all the integrated functions and supporting marketing/IT technology that is required to be successful today.   The process of acquiring new customers, developing the customers you have along their individual life cycles, retaining customers and reactivating customers has gotten much more complex and, in many cases, more expensive.   Companies with sales of less than $250M struggle to keep up with recruiting, training and retaining all the qualified staff necessary to perform the many specialized and often highly technical marketing functions. Managing the marketing staff training and turnover seems to a major challenge, particularly if your location is not a major urban center.   Many CEOs are eternally hopeful that the right team will be found, retained and motivated to finally get the marketing and sales functions to where they need to be but all too often we see that no material change or results over a five year period. How often has your key marketing staff turned over in the last five years? In the cold light of underachievement many CEOs and owners are asking if there is a better solution.   Many have turned to outsourcing.

To many outsourcing your marketing function seems like giving your baby up for adoption.  Many intuitively resist what their five years results are telling them. We think that in many cases it makes perfect sense.  We think that outsourcing should always be considered when the following conditions exist:

1.  The “fully loaded” cost of your marketing functions, including all internal staff, external costs and IT support continues to grow each year.   Make sure you include the cost of all the executive time that is applied to marketing efforts as well.

2.  You are having trouble attributing marketing efforts to results and clearly assessing the ROI for each marketing effort or expenditure.

3.  You are losing focus on your results and cost of new customer acquisition, lifetime value, retention and reactivation.

4.  You are/have experienced above average turnover in marketing staff and/or staff struggle to keep up to date with market changes, skilled vendors and supporting technologies.

5.  You and your team spend an inordinate of time and energy on assessing/correcting problems (“looking back”) and not enough time on marketing strategy and planning for next season/year.  (“looking forward”)

If any of these conditions resonate within your company you probably need to at least consider outsourcing part or all of your marketing function.  Many functions (SEO, SEM, email, martech, modeling, profiling, data enhancement, attribution, marketplace management, etc.) have been normally outsource for year.   The real “tipping point” in our view is when you outsource the maintenance of your marketing database and allow a third party (ies) to actively manage acquisition, retention and reactivation programs under your supervision.  

In 2019 we would say, at very least, this alternative should be seriously considered with an open mind.  Potential suppliers should be reviewed and costs, both internal and outsourced, should be assessed objectively.  We have assisted clients in conducting several such reviews, helping them to get over their inherent internal biases.   It is often hard to accept that a talented full service agency might be able to do the job cheaper, faster, better that your internal staff…..all while stewarding to KPIs that are jointly agreed upon.

On last thought.  Think about what you could do with the management time and energy that might be freed up by outsourcing the marketing function.   Imagine, if you will, if the majority of new found time and brainpower could be applied to new product/service development which could significantly differentiate your offering in  your increasingly competitive marketplace. Imagine taking the time you now spend understanding your email campaigns, PPC campaigns/results, marketplace offers, etc. and spending that time designing, sourcing, branding new product/service offerings.   

Still not convince to at least examine the possibility?   Want to continue the conversation?

Terence Jukes is president of B2B Direct Marketing Intelligence LLC, a strategic B2B direct marketing consultancy based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that services B2B catalog company clients in the U.S., Canada, France, the U.K. and Germany. You can reach him at tjukes @ b2bdmi.com or (954) 383-5221

Comments or questions are welcome.

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