- This article was published in the August/September 2014 edition of BusinessBrief -
Many businesses view marketing as a support function rather than part of core business activities. Although true in many instances, this view might jeopardise the success of marketing activities, especially where outsourced service providers play a key role.
As much as the focus of marketing activities shouldn’t be “just getting it done”, the focus of outsourcing the marketing function shouldn’t be to “make the problem go away”.
In general, outsourcing is intended to add either time of expertise to the current pool of resources. Outsourcing the entire marketing function however places the business at serious risk, as strategic marketing aligned with business objectives plays one of the biggest support roles to the sales function which in turn impacts directly on the bottom line.
Adopting a strategic view on outsourcing some parts of the marketing function will assist in determining whether it is necessary to supplement current marketing resource(s) with either additional hours or strategic input. Either of these however still requires ongoing commitment from both the client and its service provider in order to provide maximum value and sustainability.
Listen less closely
Stephen R. Covey famously said: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” To make outsourced marketing work for any business, both the company and client should develop the skill to listen to what is being said as well as to what is perhaps not being said. Negative or incomplete feedback might sometimes be a more accurate indicator of the true status than continuous neutral or seemingly positive feedback.
Implementing lessons learned is imperative in the ongoing clarification of mutual expectations needed to shape marketing strategy and activities according to prevailing trends and shifting business needs.
The ideal client / provider relationship is one where mutual freedom and trust is promoted, and where the suggestion and consideration of marketing activities that might not be in the comfort zone of the other party is welcomed, rather than avoided.
Keep it real
The marketing industry changes so fast that clients should trust their chosen service provider to advise on relevant best practices. It however remains the responsibility of the client to proactively provide the marketing agency with information and ensuring that all marketing activities remain aligned with business objectives.
Keeping in mind that best, cheap and fast is an impossible combination, the outsourcing of marketing strategy or activities for any period of time might bring about the surge of creative energy necessary to take a business from one point to the next.