Specializing in Marketing Services for the Learning and HR Solutions industries

Archive for July 2011

LEAD GENERATION: WHEN AND HOW TO CHOOSE AN OUTSIDE MARKETING FIRM

Companies often find themselves in a position where they can’t do all their marketing in house.  Many then are faced with the decision whether to hire an outside marketing firm or employ additional internal help.

There are primary things a company typically does for inbound marketing activities.  A website is one of a company’s most important tools for bringing in new business.  A website will attract a companies’ best leads.  Companies drive traffic to their site through search engine optimization (SEO) or other creative ways.  For example, someone has a need for a certain product or service, they begin to search for solutions for that need, and hopefully they typically find what they need in the first couple pages in their online search.  While these are great leads, there are only a finite number of them that are going to approach a company in this way.  At this point a company is faced with maintaining status quo, or reaching outbound in order to grow.  Most chose the latter and  that’s when the search generally begins for an outside marketing firm or hiring an internal employee.

Which marketing activities should a company keep internally as opposed to outsourcing?  The answer to this depends on a number of things.  First, does your company have a fully staffed sales and marketing department?  What kind of budget does your company have for marketing related activities?  How much of this budget can be allocated to outsourcing?  Is it more cost efficient to outsource than to have internal personnel focus their attention on given activities?  Let’s address each of these questions separately:

Does your company have a fully staffed sales and marketing department?

  • No.  In this case the answer seems clear.  If there is no one to devote to outbound marketing activities, then outsourcing appears to be the most obvious thing to do.  This will also depend on budgets.  Some companies might choose to start with some minimal level of involvement from an outside marketing company such as the purchase of a list and using an email system to let the marketing company send out emails for them.  Or, they may wish to have the outside firm do most everything from writing email content to following up with potential hot leads and further qualifying them.
  • Yes.  In this scenario, a company will want to determine the costs associated with using their internal staff for various marketing activities versus an external company.  In many cases, a company will find that outsourcing certain activities is much more cost efficient.  But this varies from company to company.

What kind of budget does your company have and how much is allocated to outsourcing?

  • The answer to this is obvious.  If there is not a budget, then one must be made.  Sometimes it’s a catch 22.  Companies find that after working with an outside firm, they increase revenue and thus have more budgets to use in that area.  Another possible scenario is that after using an outside firm, companies then have enough revenue to hire more internal personnel.

Is it more cost effective to outsource than utilize internal personnel

  • This question deserves a twofold answer.  First, companies may find that due to varying salaries at different levels of employees, in some cases the answer will be yes.  They also may find that it is less expensive to hire a firm than to bring someone on internally on a full time basis to do the exact same thing.  The risk is less, there is no “firing” of anyone if the company is dissatisfied, and there aren’t benefits to pay, various operating costs and all the other associated costs of hiring an employee.  Pros and cons are weighed different at each organization.

So now you’ve decided it is worthwhile to hire an outside firm.  How do you go about choosing the firm that is best for you?

Here are number of tips when considering an outside firm:

1)      Find a company that offers a variety of services.  This will allow you to choose the ones that will work best for your organization.  You may start small and have a low level of involvement from the firm until you see how well they can work with you.  Then you may want to have that firm work on other areas of marketing as you feel more comfortable with their work and success for your organization.

2)      Look for a consultative company; one that will make the best recommendations for you as to which services they feel they are a best fit in.  They should be willing to have a free “discovery” or initial consultative call with you and anyone else in your organization.

3)      If there is a firm that works exclusively in your area of business and knows how to target your audience, that’s a huge plus.  Not only will they understand your business, but also your potential clients as well.

4)      At the same time you are considering things to look for in a marketing firm, there are things you should also be wary about.  For example, if a company promises or “guarantees” certain, unrealistic results, be cautious.  Marketing is unpredictable and guarantees are nearly impossible.  No one ever really knows how well a product or service will be received in the marketplace, even with the best marketing strategies.  If you absolutely need some type of “guarantee” or assurance, it isn’t unreasonable for a firm to give you an idea of some realistic expectations; again with the understanding these are not guarantees.

Be sure to carefully review proposals and contracts and ask questions.  If a marketing firm is hesitant or unwilling to answer questions, then move on and find a new company to work with.

Cox eLearning works exclusively in the eLearning, corporate training, and HR industries.  Please contact us if you are interested in learning more about our services.