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Marketing and branding: Outsource or hire?

We've only just begun the year, and many of us are already wondering where the time is going. A new year often holds so much hope for renewed strategy; a chance to breathe fresh life into our business and grow our market accordingly. Yet, the months are hurtling towards us like a heat-seeking missile, and the vast majority of business owners or managers remain eyeballs-deep in the day-to-day, rather than having the time (or energy!) to think outside the box or plan strategically.
Marketing and branding: Outsource or hire?
© Dzianis Apolka - 123RF.com.
And the truth is that while we all know that marketing our business is the best way to get our brand to become a household name, marketing is the one business function that many de-prioritise, because there’s simply not enough time to focus on it (and you might not have the skills in-house to do it well). Would you put off your accounting tasks? Nope (your customers wouldn’t pay you!). Would you delay doing sales? Of course not! (How would you generate any revenue?) So, not having the time or the staff to create brand awareness are not good reasons to skip marketing – instead, these are the best reasons to outsource.

A strong brand identity

Marketing is a business function which should be used to build your brand and expand your customer base. It’s not just promoting the products or services you currently offer or have on special; it’s the activity which creates awareness of who and what you are, so that your brand becomes recognisable and meaningful. Brand building is a journey - not a destination - which needs to be carried out in a constant and carefully planned way.

A strong identity for your brand is what will set you apart from your competitors in the market place, and this cannot be done in an ad hoc fashion, when you have time to do it. It’s a consistent and long-term exercise, which will bear fruit long after the seeds have been sown.

Companies often find themselves relying on a steady stream of work from existing clients, but what would happen if one of those customers had to close down or start buying from a competitor? The economy is under pressure, and there are times when loyalty is trumped by price; will the loss of one client send your business reeling? Are you being reactive and focusing on work that comes in the door, without creating a strong brand presence and building a sustainable sales flow?

Outsourcing specific non-core functions of your business allows you to tap into the skills and experience of industry professionals. You don’t need to increase your business’ overheads, invest in expensive infrastructure, or worry about training your existing staff to upskill them – your outsourcing partner has the expertise and tools at their disposal to provide you with the services you need, when you need them. As an extension of your workforce, your team becomes more flexible and productive without overloading your employees.

Bridging the manpower gap

As a core deliverable of outsourced services, you will have the transparency of result reporting, giving you a bird’s eye view of the work being done and the effects thereof, enabling you to adjust activities where necessary or focus more effort and budget on the things that are driving results for your business.

The obvious cost savings and skills benefits are just the start of the best reasons to outsource your marketing. You will also gain a stream of fresh ideas, a foundation of experience and know-how, as well as a team dedicated to achieving results. One marketing person can’t do it all (and they shouldn’t). Outsourcing provides you with access to a variety of skills across a range of activities, from design to strategy, from brand activations and digital marketing and many other areas in between.

Outsourcing eliminates the drain of staff turnover. You know that disheartening experience of losing a valued staff member when they seek greener pastures, leaving us floundering for a reliable, experienced and skill replacement, and one we can afford? Agencies ARE those reliable, experienced and skilled assets; providing clients with the services they need at a price they’ve budgeted for.

Agencies are able to bridge the manpower gap when you need more hands on deck or fill holes during periods of staff absence, creating a seamless and constant workflow. There is also the upside of not having to pay a staff salary during quiet holiday periods, easing the pressure of expenses when business may be slower.

So, rather than ignoring the marketing and branding needs of your business, find an agency that understands what you do and who your target market is, and work with them to generate a plan to heighten awareness of your brand name and drive product sales. In all likelihood, the knock-on growth in your business will more than cover the fees you’ve paid!

About Kirsten McLeod Grobler

Kirsten is an experienced marketer, brand manager and content writer. She is the owner-manager of Source Marketing Solutions, a boutique marketing and branding consultancy. Included in her skill set is brand and marketing management, lecturing and training, content creation, formulation of strategic marketing plans as well as social media management.

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