If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely a growing B2B services firm—offering consulting solutions, technical, information, or other professional services, for example—that is considering external B2B marketing support to help you reach your desired growth objectives. There are multiple options for investing in marketing support: hiring in-house, working with individual contractors, or partnering with a marketing agency. Determining the right approach for you is an important first step.
If you’re deciding between whether to outsource, hire in-house, or blend your team, read our eBook called Staffing up for Growth: Outsourcing vs. Hiring In-House Marketing Talent.
Smaller B2B services firms often benefit from outsourcing to a full-service B2B marketing firm through the early stages of building out their marketing function. Once a company has the right foundations and proven marketing programs in place, it’s time to assess whether an in-house hire makes sense as an addition or replacement.
Below are the primary reasons B2B services firms have chosen outsourced B2B marketing support over hiring in-house.
Why you need this: These days, marketing requires a variety of different skill sets—digital marketing, content writing, search engine optimization, PR, and in some cases, channel or partner marketing. A full-service B2B marketing agency inherently understands all of these areas, and they ensure your strategy has the right focus and integration across all of them.
What’s at risk if you don’t outsource: Specialized agencies focus on certain industries or verticals or just one area of marketing, like digital marketing or PR. These agencies (as well as in-house hires) have limited knowledge outside of those realms, so your strategy veers towards what they know instead of what you need.
Why you need this: With a full-service agency, your team of senior B2B marketing experts comes vetted, assembled, and ready to tackle your challenges. Good agencies know how to navigate your business to ramp up quickly as that’s part of every client engagement. The time to see impactful results is shortened to within a couple months.
What’s at risk if you don’t outsource: Hiring an in-house marketer as your sole/primary B2B marketing resource means understanding in advance which skill sets you need, drafting a job description, sifting through resumes, interviewing, negotiating compensation, and onboarding, which can be a long process and a drain on your resources. Once they’re onboarded, your in-house hire will still need to assemble their team (freelance content writer, SEO expert, website developer, etc.).
A recent study by Leadership IQ indicated that 46% of newly-hired employees quit, are fired, receive poor performance reviews or are put on a performance improvement plan within 18 months, so even after all of your hard work, statistics say that it may not work out. If it does, you’ll likely wait six months to one year to see positive results.
Why you need this: Over 30% of our B2B services clients leverage our expertise to find the right in-house hire when the time is right (in marketing and sales). That often includes recommending specific areas of expertise to look for, writing the job description, assisting with the interview process, and even recommending people from our network. In our experience, these people stick around much longer and make a bigger impact on the business.
What’s at risk if you don’t outsource: When non-marketers hire in-house marketers to a company with little to no prior marketing in-house, it often doesn’t end well. You need to understand your B2B marketing priorities and ideally have a plan in place before you hire. We know that this sounds backwards, but it makes all the difference—read more on that in our blog, Two Secrets to B2B Marketing Budgeting: How to Kick off Next Year with a Head Start in Revenue.
Why you need this: Not all marketing is in the direct line of sight for sales. Brand awareness, partnerships, and lead nurture programs are examples of areas that are equally as important for near-term sales objectives and business growth, even if they do fall out of sales’ purview. With an outsourced B2B marketing agency, marketing gets the focus it deserves and isn’t constantly pulled into sales priorities at the expense of longer-term growth opportunities.
What’s at risk if you don’t outsource: In growing B2B services companies, one person often leads sales and marketing and they typically have a stronger sales background. In addition to that, they have a quota to meet that quarter, so marketing isn’t their primary focus.
Why you need this: An outsourced B2B marketing department can help your entire team build the skills they need to grow relationships—both existing and prospective. They also provide expertise and best practices from other clients to build your brand beyond your networks through thought leadership, social selling, PR, partnerships, and events.
What’s at risk if you don’t outsource: B2B services companies are relationship-oriented—full stop. Any B2B marketing partner that guarantees you that SEO, AdWords, or keywords alone can win new business is missing the mark. Your prospects are buying you—your expertise, your experience, your team. Your reputation and the relationships you’ve built are essential to your brand.
Marketing’s role in that is to expand your company’s network outside of your typical circles. In our experience, in-house marketers often rely too heavily on existing circles rather than prying others open through proven methods and utilizing what’s worked for similar firms.
Why you need this: A great B2B marketing agency can evolve and pivot with you as your business matures and your needs change. We are often pulling in additional SMEs who have expertise in specific areas of marketing and growth strategy to provide counsel to our clients.
For instance, one of our clients has changed drastically in the six years we’ve been working together—they’ve gone from two sales reps fighting an uphill battle against a slew of behemoth competitors to being considered the #3 player in the industry with eight reps across the country. The kind of marketing we do for each stage of growth is vastly different.
What’s at risk if you don’t outsource: Let’s say that this year, you’re focused on building a solid marketing foundation—getting your website and materials up to speed with messaging that actually aligns with what you do. Next year, you build on that foundation and add channel marketing and more sophisticated marketing automation to the mix. And later that year, you’re looking to assess which new vertical markets to enter—and develop a plan on how to do so. A small internal team most likely won’t have the expertise to support such varying efforts.
Why you need this: While there are some tried-and-true strategies in B2B marketing, the tactics for engaging different audiences are always changing. It’s important to stay current and to know what actually works versus what sounds like a good idea in theory.
What’s at risk if you don’t outsource: You may waste resources trying out campaigns that simply won’t work. Good agencies know what has worked for other B2B services firms and share recommendations for making your campaigns effective from the outset. Also, professional development to stay “in the know” on the latest B2B marketing trends is an additional expense for you, rather than part of an agency’s inherent value.
Why you need this: With an outsourced B2B marketing agency, you get value out of every dollar you spend. You are paying for ideas and execution, and the value that we bring to your business. We’re at your disposal when you need us.
What’s at risk if you don’t outsource: When you hire in-house, you’re responsible for that person’s salary, benefits, bonuses, hardware and software, and so on. They’re inevitably going to be pulled into company meetings and client projects, and they’ll take the vacations, sick time, family or disability leave they’ve earned. All of this represents time, resources, and momentum being pulled away from your marketing priorities.
Making the call: In-house versus outsourced
Outsourcing your marketing efforts is a game-changer for many smaller B2B services firms. A good agency enables you to achieve more with limited resources and ensures marketing is a key factor in business growth. In any case, we hope these insights help you make the right decision for your business.
If you’ve decided to outsource, we’d love the chance to connect. Contact us today and let’s get started!
For more on engaging the right agency to grow your services business and generate leads, check out our eBook, Marketing Professional Services—4 Steps to Grow, 10 Mistakes to Avoid + How to Find the Right Partner to Make it All Work.