It’s an age-old question for startups and established small businesses alike: Am I better off doing my own marketing or taking the outsource route?
By Benjamin Shepardson
There’s not a clear-cut answer, unfortunately. Every business and every budget is unique, and there are times when both options make sense.
How can you feel confident you’ve made the right decision, especially when it comes to getting the best ROI for your investment?
This guide covers the benefits of each and when you should opt for one over the other. Let’s get started!
The Benefits of DIY Marketing
No one knows your business like you do. You talk to your customers every day. You know the products and services you sell inside and out. You’ve defined your competitive advantages and recognize what makes you unique.
Who better to handle your marketing than your own people?
Do it yourself marketing is a fairly common practice among small businesses and larger companies alike for myriad reasons:
It Can Be Less Expensive
Some businesses, especially startups, simply don’t have the means to pay an outside firm to handle their marketing. Depending on the work involved, some firms can cost thousands of dollars per month. As with most marketing, it can take a while before you start to see results, and fronting that kind of money without knowing when an ROI will appear just isn’t feasible.
Small businesses may choose to delegate certain marketing tasks to their team, such as maintaining social media accounts or crafting email campaigns. Even if they don’t have a dedicated marketing department, some companies may pull from the unique talents of their internal employees to make it work.
It Keeps the Work In-House
Choosing to keep the work in-house gives companies more control over quality and processes. They can see how the work is being done and can make immediate adjustments or provide feedback. They know exactly what’s happening with their marketing efforts and can play a more integral role.
It Can Be Faster
In some cases, doing your own marketing can result in faster turnaround times. When you have a million dollar idea and want to run with it, you can prioritize marketing activities instead of waiting to source a marketing agency to handle the specifics.
It Aligns with Your Vision
Cultural connections are a large part of successful marketing. You want all your marketing messages to be well branded and resonate with your employees and target audience, and there’s no one who knows your goals like you do. Doing your own marketing can help you ensure your brand, messages, promotions, and efforts align with each other to create consistency at every angle.
Why Outsource Marketing?
It’s hard to argue with the many benefits of handling your own marketing, but despite these reasons, doing it all yourself isn’t always the best option.
You Get Access to Greater Talent
Commonly cited as the top reason for outsourcing marketing is the fact that companies lack the expertise needed for effective marketing.
If your existing team doesn’t have the combined skill set to pull off your marketing strategy, you’d need to hire one or more marketing people. Or, you could outsource to an agency that’s already vetted the best marketers they could find and have the unique skills needed to make your efforts successful.
Using an agency gives you access to greater talent than you could source on your own. Rather than paying for full salaries and benefits, you’re only paying a small portion of the agency’s staff salaries while still getting top notch results.
Outsourcing Reduces Overhead Costs
Good marketing doesn’t come cheap, whether you’re doing it internally or outsourcing to an agency. But internal costs can quickly add up to overtake what it would take to outsource. Things like hiring marketing personnel, adding additional workspaces, investing in marketing tools like SEO software and email services, printing costs, research and development, and additional training can easily negate any benefit to doing your own marketing in-house. Most agencies will already have many of these things in place and build a small portion of their costs into the price you pay.
Sometimes It’s Less Expensive and More Profitable
Doing your own marketing can help you save money, but it’s not always the cheapest option. Some sources suggest that outsourcing an entire marketing team can be cheaper than hiring one internal marketing professional.
Consider this: Marketing Campaign A costs $1000 to do it yourself and $2000 to outsource. But since you’re running a business and not necessarily a marketing expert, your own efforts only brought in about 10 sales, while an agency could have brought in 100. Not only have you gotten a lower ROI by doing it yourself, you’ve also wasted valuable time and resources that could have been better allocated.
It’s a basic example, and you won’t always realize which one would have been the better option until after the fact. As a general rule, it’s almost always more cost effective to put your marketing in the hands of someone more capable if you don’t know how to maximize your results.
It Lets You Focus on Your Business
The more you outsource, the less you have to do yourself. It’s that’s simple.
Marketing is one of the easiest divisions of business to outsource, which is why so many companies do it. It’s something that isn’t required to occur on-site. It’s not something that must be meticulously managed every minute of every day. If you’re going to outsource something, marketing is usually one of the top three options.
As a result, you have more time to focus on higher level tasks, such as client retention, business analytics, growth hacking, sales, and company culture.
You Don’t Have to Learn Anything New
Marketing as we know it has been around for the better part of a century, yet there’s still plenty to be learned. Marketing trends and best practices have experienced plenty of shifts and changes through the years, especially as new forms of marketing such as digital and social media have strengthened their grip.
In today’s business world, it’s imperative to keep your finger on the marketing pulse at all times to ensure you continue to hit your target and produce results. At some point, whatever worked well previously may start to lose its effectiveness. This can happen when competition increases, trends stop being new and exciting, Google changes its algorithm, or a new channel takes over.
As a result, marketers never stop learning how to make their efforts more effective. As a business owner, it’s extra work to keep up with if you’re doing everything yourself. Marketers are already keeping up with industry shifts so you can take advantage of their due diligence.
When to Outsource vs DIY Marketing
Knowing the benefits can help you make a better-informed decision when choosing to outsource your marketing or do it yourself.
However, it’s worth mentioning that some of the benefits of doing your own marketing can also be satisfied by outsourcing. Many business owners may opt to do their own marketing because they want to retain control over quality or think that a marketing firm wouldn’t be able to connect with their customers.
In some cases, this is 100% true. But many marketing firms have built their success on being able to brand your marketing as well as if it came straight from you. Many major brands outsource marketing campaigns to creative firms on the regular, so don’t let the idea that quality and branding vanish when you don’t handle it yourself.
Outsource marketing if…
- Not outsourcing would require you to take on additional overhead, such as employees, workspaces, equipment, etc.;
- You don’t have the required talent or skills to make your marketing successful;
- Your current marketing methods aren’t bringing in results; or
- You need to focus on other parts of your business.
Do your own marketing if…
- You or your employees have the skills, expertise, and tools required to execute a successful marketing strategy;
- It makes financial sense to handle certain tasks yourself;
- You have the time to manage your own marketing without sacrificing other areas of your business; or
- You want complete control over your marketing efforts and will be satisfied with the results.
It all comes down to results. Whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring an agency, your choice is only as beneficial as the ROI you receive. As long as your end results meet your expectations, you’ve made the right call.
There’s a Third Option
We’ve talked about outsourcing marketing versus doing it yourself, but there’s also a third option: take the hybrid approach.
Hybrid marketing allows you to handle some of your own marketing (whatever makes the most sense for your company) and outsource the rest to an agency. You might only outsource one or two projects at a time, or you might hire an agency to handle things like social media full time.
You’ll have to find your own balance to see what works best for you and what’s most profitable in the end. But it’s certainly worth knowing there’s always a satisfying solution, regardless of your budget or company size.
Benjamin Shepardson is the founder of NoStop Copywriting, a Key West-based content agency specializing in delivering personalized experiences. With an extensive digital career dating back to before social media and WordPress, Ben personally works with clients to craft a content strategy that will scale and grow their business. Follow him on Twitter at @nostop_content.