Can your marketing team do it all? 
Or does it makes sense to outsource some of your team's marketing responsibilities?

These are common questions most financial marketers face these days.

As little as ten years ago, the answer to them was a simple one: Most companies preferred nurturing in-house talent. 

It was relatively easy to find people who could help:

  • Build and maintain a corporate brand
  • Develop product marketing strategies
  • Create presentations, brochures, fact sheets and other sales support materials
  • Run a website
  • Manage a sales reporting system
  • Create and place advertising campaigns.

Certain projects, like larger branding efforts and advertising campaigns were outsourced to agencies that specialized in these types of marketing initiatives.

Today, marketing is far more complex and includes a broad array of new options including:

  • Digital advertising
  • Online sales
  • Social media
  • Content marketing
  • Online chats
  • Customer tracking
  • Algorithmic product recommendations
  • Webinars
  • Video marketing
  • Podcasts
  • Digital mapping
  • And much more.

In addition, traditional marketing initiatives have become far more complex:

  • It's not enough to just keep a website up and running, it has to be improved and optimized each and every day.
  • Brands don't just have to be effective in a few different media types, they must resonate in everything from social posts on smart phones to stadium-sized LED billboards.
  • And ad campaigns? They aren't just on television and radio or in newspaper or magazines anymore. They're integrated initiatives that can tie together anything from social media, to Pandora radio, to website takeovers and more.

Which gets us back to our original question: How much of your marketing should be done in-house -- and how much should you outsource?

Start by asking yourself: Which things does your company absolutely have to -- and can realistically -- own? For most firms, there are some foundational functions that must be kept in-house and others that it simply make sense to outsource. It's those in-between things that can be hardest to figure out. Let's evaluate some common marketing functions: 

Oversight of the company brand. A brand is about as close to a company's core as marketing . That's why most marketing departments maintain a team to oversee their brand. 

However, most branding professionals don't have access to broad-scale industry knowledge and cutting-edge information on how to keep a brand current and up-to-date in today's constantly-changing marketing universe. That's why they often turn to an agency that specializes in branding to work with them to develop their original brand and to update it every few years. 

Tip: One of the most valuable services an agency can serve is to offer an outside perspective on your brand. The people who work for a company are so close to its brand -- living it day after day -- that it can be impossible for them to see new opportunities to refresh, evolve or expand it.

Website development and maintenance. Websites have become central to how most companies market and sell their products. That's why most need a core team available 24/7 to keep their sites up and running smoothly. But websites aren't static any more. They've become personalized, responsive machines that can be accessed anywhere, any time.

That's why most firms have agencies and service providers on hand to help them with today's complex online marketing universe. This often includes firms that specialize in responsive web design, A / B testing, search engine optimization, hosting, analytics and other functions. Some companies turn to a single agency to help pull all these resources together for them.

Content marketing. For most businesses, it's impossible to develop and source all the original and curated content they require. That's why they have an in-house editorial team to maintain the company voice and tone, while turning to content providers that have access to a broad array of writers and licensed content sources to get them all the written, video, quiz, experiential and other material they need. More and more firms are also contracting with companies that are experts in recommending, optimizing and monitoring content performance.

Social media. Everyday social media engagement -- almost by necessity -- has to be an in-house function. Who better to respond to customer questions and complaints than someone at your firm? And this is particularly true for companies in highly regulated industries like financial services.

But when it comes to developing and optimizing posts in countless channels including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Google + and more, it usually makes sense to turn to an agency that has their finger on the pulse of this complex medium to help your firm get it right.

Advertising. This is one marketing initiative that is at once close to the heart of your company -- and also so complex and changeable -- it can be almost impossible to run and develop in-house. That's why most firms maintain a core team that manages advertising, but turns over creative development and media buying to agencies that specialize in those capabilities. And firms in financial services often engage an advertising agency that understands the intricacies of the industry to coordinate overall advertising efforts so they can be creative and cutting-edge, and also legal and compliant.

Sales materials and presentations. It's not just about PowerPoint slides and fact sheets anymore. Sales support materials must be flexible enough to support sales conversations any place, any time. And they should be able to be delivered in any media, on any device. That's why more and more companies are transferring this function from their sales and marketing teams to firms that specialize is developing comprehensive sales and marketing systems.  

Strategy. Financial marketing strategies have become more complicated to develop than ever. Understanding all the possible combinations of messages, media and delivery options can be almost impossible for a single marketing team to handle. That's why most CMOs, Marketing VPs and Directors have an agency on speed dial that can provide advice on how to optimize their marketing strategies.

Conclusion

Marketing has gone through epic changes over the last decade. And so have the structures of marketing departments. That's why you need to ask yourself what functions your team must -- and can realistically -- own in-house and which can and should be outsourced. 

In most cases, marketing teams manage core functions and outsource the specific duties they can't find the talent to own -- or afford to keep in-house. This can be especially true for firms located in cities that don't have large populations of advertising professionals, web developers, or social media experts. An agency can be a good solution for them.

Not sure how to get started? Why not talk to an agency that has worked with almost every major firm in the financial services industry and many of the smaller ones. We can help guide you to a solution on how you can best structure your marketing department.

 

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