By Steve Vito, Executive Vice President, and Linda Smith, Account Director at Sage Communications

Technology is finally having a profound impact on marketing in the same way it has affected every other area of business. As a result, measurable digital marketing campaigns and cost savings have emerged as two primary reasons companies – especially small to medium-sized businesses (SMB) – should, and can, seriously consider outsourcing their marketing efforts. Outsourcing allows SMBs to remain competitive and enables them to reap the benefits that new technologies can provide.

Outsourcing your marketing gives your organization access to the current skillset needed to keep pace with the industry’s evolution…in an affordable and cost effective manner. This statement holds true if your organization sells services in a structured RFI-RFP-BID-AWARD environment, if you sell Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) products off a multiple-award schedule, or from an open purchase order.

If your organization lacks the required agility and is unable to keep pace with the continual changes in the digital marketplace, you are putting yourself at a severe competitive disadvantages.

1. Marketing – Under Scrutiny For ROI

SEO & MAP spells accountability. You’ve probably heard the old saying, “I know half my ad dollars are working, I just don’t know which half.” Executives have always been frustrated by the inability to accurately measure the ROI of marketing expenditures. Too often, as a result, many companies, SMBs in particular, mistakenly underfund marketing. However, by not doing any – or minimal – marketing, the need for marketing doesn’t disappear, brand awareness and thought leadership does!

In an effort to justify marketing expenses and quantify ROI, companies have become fixated on “lead generation.” This emphasis has fueled the significant growth of conferences and webinars for many years (let’s face it, the demand isn’t coming from the attendee side). Yet little regard was ever given to the quality of the leads generated.

Now, by utilizing a digital marketing strategy that encompasses search engine optimization (SEO) and a marketing automation platform (MAP), businesses can determine the efficacy of their marketing campaign costs. These powerful tools help companies weed out the lower quality leads and nurture the quality ones, while evaluating the prospect’s position in their journey through the sales lifecycle. MAPs make marketing more efficient, allowing constant measurement, analysis and optimization for continuous improvement and success.

In a recent edition of the WSJ’s CIO Journal, Mike Brinker, Deloitte’s Digital Leader, wrote that the traditional pillars of marketing, “product, price, place, and promotion” have been augmented with “engagement, connectivity, data, and technology – [enabling Deloitte] to market to individuals instead of the masses”. With a MAP, you can finally develop a one-on-one relationship with your prospects. Rather than putting information out there and hoping they’ll like it, you instead learn your prospects’ needs, wants, and interests with the data the MAP collects. You can then respond with content that is valuable to their needs. Your thought leadership and mindshare will be enhanced in the eyes of the prospects. The days of spray and pray marketing are over.

So where do you begin? First, you need to have an integrated marketing strategy to drive traffic to your website. You can do this using a variety of methods including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, advertising, events, e-newsletters and more. These strategies can include purchasing the right key words on Google and/or LinkedIn or other social media platforms.

When a visitor arrives at your website and downloads content using a lead generation form, the MAP creates a unique user profile for that visitor. Next, the MAP traces the visitor’s actions on your site from that day forward. As a result, you can track how visitors interact with your website, including the content they spend the most time on, what they download and so on. You can also view and track how visitors interact with your social media activities (Tweets, blogs, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, etc.).

The MAP database collects all of your tagged visitors’ interactions and puts that data in one place. This user-friendly dashboard helps analyze the data and correlates it with the stages of your sales lifecycle. For example, the dashboard can identify someone who comes from an existing client, spends significant time on your website and then downloads information on a specific topic. With this information, you know that a sales person should contact this visitor immediately as it will likely lead to a sale.  Or the data organized in the dashboard may point to the opposite by identifying someone who plans to buy in two years and has been deemed a long-term prospect through the completion of a lead form, indicating that a nurturing email campaign would suffice.

In the end, MAPs help you to respond appropriately with valuable content, as you determine your visitor’s stage in the buying process. Often you can anticipate their information needs before they even know they need it. You’ll become of even greater value to them…you’ll become a partner…and a thought leader in their buying journey.

2Innovation, flexibility and reduced costs!

Why spend more and get less? Here’s an argument that the most skeptical CFOs will appreciate. Despite the development of MAPs and other such applications, marketing remains labor intensive. It also requires a marketing workforce with a constantly evolving skillset. In fact, as marketing has become more technical and analytical to implement, the cost of recruiting, hiring, training and maintaining a skilled marketing department has also increased in cost. Even after spending a lot of money, a small to medium-sized marketing department will struggle to stay relevant and keep pace with all of the constant changes in marketing and technology.

Let’s get specific. Here are some general – but accurate – cost estimates of building an in-house marketing department.

Labor:

  • Marketing Department Leader (VP, Director and/or Manager, depending on industry, location, level of strategy and experience) – $75,000 to $150,000
  • A modest 3 – 5 person staff (per person) – $45,000 to $75,000 per person. These folks would function in one or more of the following areas:
  • Events Manager
  • Social Media Manager
  • Web Developer
  • Graphic Designer
  • Copywriter(s)
  • Marketing Automation and/or Database Administrator
  • PR Manager
  • Marketing Channel Funds Manager
  • Now add employee benefits. Depending on your company’s benefits program, this could be 35% to 50% of the salary.

Overhead:

  • Office space, subscription services, computer hardware and software, office supplies, cost of marketing automation tools, website hosting, etc. – $100,000 – $175,000 plus

Total Cost: $400,000 to $750,000 and you haven’t even purchased media, developed creative, written content, produced a webinar, put out a press release or updated your website. All of those expenses could easily add another $300,000 – $1,000,000 plus.

For the same amount of money, an SMB can implement an integrated marketing communications plan that could include SEO, MAP, advertising, webinar(s), event(s), a website modification, social media and public relations campaigns.

Conclusion:

Too often, executives in the C-suite don’t understand their organization’s marketing goals. As a result, they underfund it at best or ignore it at worst. In their opinion, the company may have achieved success to this point without much marketing. So, they conclude that they don’t need it going forward. I’m sure you’ll agree, even a turkey will eventually cook sitting atop a candle… but there is a better way.

Outsource your marketing to a quality marketing communications agency that understands digital marketing and has the depth and breadth of marketing experts on board. You’ll find your organization will better measure its marketing expenses and ultimately spend less. In the end, it’s a win-win!

About the Authors:

Linda Smith and Steve Vito are part of the Sage Communications executive team. Linda has over 30 years experience in B2C and B2B marketing primarily in the technology area. Steve has over 35 years experience in media and marketing primarily in the B2B and B2G area.  Sage Communications is a full-service marketing communications and public relations agency providing a unique fusion of public relations, advertising, marketing, branding, social media, interactive services and event management to Fortune 500 companies, start-ups, non-profits, government agencies, associations and coalitions.

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