12 Step Marketing Pop Quiz - Should You Do Your Own Marketing in 2013, or Outsource - from B2B Marketing Specialists, The Mezzanine Group

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In 2013 Business to Business (B2B) companies need to consider whether they should DIY their marketing or outsource. Lisa Shepherd, author of ‘Market Smart’, and President of The Mezzanine Group, has 12 questions to help executives make this important decision.

Good marketing isn’t just about having a strategy and a plan, it’s about execution. If the people and budget to develop and then execute a strategic marketing plan are not in place, it will be difficult to achieve the desired results.

Until recently, many B2B companies haven’t had to devote serious attention to marketing. To get their message out, most needed to attend trade shows and put product spec sheets in the hands of their sales force. Now, buyer behaviour is changing and many companies are scrambling to stay competitive and secure new business. Marketing is now relevant and important for B2B organizations.

One decision that faces B2B executives when it comes to marketing is whether to build a marketing team in-house, or to outsource the function. Some companies may not realize that outsourcing is an option, but they quickly learn that marketing is tougher than it looks and outsourcing is a valuable alternative to ensure they can execute an integrated, strategic marketing plan.

Some B2B companies simply don’t have the resources or knowledge to be effective with their marketing. For those firms, outsourcing is an efficient solution that costs less than hiring full-time employees and delivers all the results of having experienced marketers and strategic thinkers on staff.

Tony Hoevenaars, CEO of Brampton-based Mirus International, a designer and manufacturer of energy-efficiency, power quality improvement products that are used in very diverse markets such as data centres, oil rigs and water treatment plants around the world, outsourced his marketing to Mezzanine in 2011 and has seen up to 30% annual growth rates since. Hoevenaars says, “Outsourcing our marketing was absolutely the right thing for us. Marketing wasn’t a core competence for us and we didn’t have the knowledge or resources in-house to execute marketing well. Mezzanine brings us expertise, capacity and flexibility to achieve far more effective marketing than we otherwise could.”

Outsourcing isn’t the best choice for every firm though, and building an in-house team may, in fact, be the right option. Here are 12 questions to help executives determine if DIY or outsource is their best choice for their business.

1. Is marketing a core competence for our company?

2. Is there enough marketing work to keep a full-time senior staff member (strategic) and junior staff member (operational) busy?

3. Do we know which types of marketing tools we should be using, from traditional to digital tactics, and therefore which marketing skills we need to hire for?

4. Is our volume of marketing activity fairly consistent over the course of the year, rather than having peaks and valleys in which more or less activity is required?

5. Have we achieved effective marketing in-house in the past?         

6. Do we have enough bandwidth on the executive team to manage and direct marketing in-house and ensure that it’s accountable for results?

7. Will we be able to keep pace with changes in buyer behaviour and marketing tools over the next three years through internal resources?

8. Is it extremely difficult for us to put a marketing plan in place, given the pace of change in our business and the uncertainty of the target market and competition?

9. Do we have a culture that would be negatively affected by outsourcing?         

10. Will it be difficult to find an outsourcing partner that has more marketing expertise than we do internally?

11. Does the size of our marketing budget make outsourcing financially unfeasible?

12. Would the consequences of outsourcing be permanent or extremely difficult to reverse if we were to decide to change course in future?

If your answer is ‘Yes’ to eight or more of the above questions, marketing should be an in-house function. The internal expertise, resources and demand to drive an effective program are already in place.

If your answer is ‘No’ to eight or more, outsourcing is probably the right option. A lot of B2B firms have a gap between the level of expertise they need in marketing and their ability to pay for it. For companies that can’t employ both a senior strategist and a junior operational person in-house, outsourcing can be an affordable way of getting the best of both worlds.

If the number of yes/no answers falls somewhere in the middle, you should explore outsourcing as an option to see if you can find a partner that will deliver better results than can be achieved internally—or that can complement internal efforts with expertise that may not be in-house.

No matter the option, good marketing isn’t just about having a strategy and a plan, it’s about execution. If the people and budget to develop and then execute a strategic marketing plan are not in place, it will be difficult to achieve the desired results. Whether the marketing resources are in-house or not, they must be a good fit to take the company where it aims to go.

For more information on developing an effective B2B marketing strategy and tactical plan you can find a step-by-step easy to follow guide in Market Smart: How to Gain Customers and Increase Profits with B2B Marketing.

*About Lisa Shepherd
Lisa Shepherd is the founder and president of The Mezzanine Group, a B2B strategy and marketing company based in Toronto, Canada. She has worked with over 200 companies to increase their profits through effective marketing, and has grown Mezzanine into a four-time winner of PROFIT’s Fastest Growing Company award. Lisa is a recognized expert on B2B strategy and marketing, and speaks and writes extensively on B2B growth. Her expertise has been featured in The Globe & Mail, PROFIT Magazine, 20/20 Magazine, The Toronto Star and The National Post.

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