The first question I was asked this morning was my thoughts on how to implement Groove Funnels. As an old skool Marketer, I am fully aware of sales funnels. Every Sales & Marketing presentation needs a great funnel diagram, but place the word ‘Groove’ in front of it and I am completely flummoxed. I soon realised that in between searching the supermarket shelves for flour, teaching equivalent fractions and keeping on top of our client work, I may need to pay more attention to the emerging Marketing support packages available online. There is no doubt that online tools can form an important part of the Marketing plan, yet these solutions need to act as aids during the implementation process, rather than drivers for the strategy itself.
As we emerge from over a year of restrictions and lockdowns, many business owners have been cautious with their spending. Understandably. There was a strong case for battening down the hatches and deciding to reduce business expenses to ride the storm. It is heartbreaking to see so many organisations suffer as a result of the pandemic. With employees on furlough, or other methods introduced to reduce costs, our thoughts often turn to finding new ways of doing everything for ourselves. Bringing services in-house to reduce costs in the short term.
Google has become the default ‘go to’ source of knowledge in a short space of time. You can find an instruction video on just about anything, including the answer to any off the wall school curriculum question a nine-year-old thinks to dream up in the absence of access to a qualified teacher. Google ‘marketing for SMEs’ and it’s a minefield. It is difficult to know where to start. The challenge we have, as a Marketing Consultancy, is that there is already so much help and support available. It is possible to learn, to find Marketing planning templates, how-to guides and DIY website platforms. It is the same for every professional industry including accountancy, legal services, HR and IT support. In some cases, we have also slowly drifted into replacing our family GP with a quick Google search of symptoms, rather than booking an appointment and seeing our Doctor.
For ambitious owners of growing businesses, all the core functions of an organisation are vital. These are typically acknowledged as Production, Finance, Research & Development, Customer Service, Distribution, Sales, Marketing, IT, HR and Administration. How these are resourced by each organisation is dependent on the leaders’ level of skill in each area, the type of goods or services they are bringing to market and how the organisation is structured. In an ideal world, successful companies need expertise and experience in all these areas. However, to bring these in-house comes at a high cost.
Marketing is often a discipline that is overlooked as a professional skill - particularly strategy or planning. Many new businesses and start-ups can get off the ground rapidly with a new idea, leaning on their own network of copywriters, designers, developers and online tools without the foundations of a Marketing strategy. Whilst this may bring results in the short-term, to grow further and sustain long term profitability, a solid Marketing plan needs to be in place.
As we emerge from this period of slowness and reflection, it is often beneficial to ask for an outsider’s opinion on our approach and strategy. As we all have differing gifts and strengths, it is also worthwhile assessing where the best gains can be made by outsourcing some of the business functions listed earlier. For a growing business with limited resources, recruiting the skills into the business can be costly and overheads need to be managed carefully against variable sales forecasts. If hiring proves difficult at the right level of investment, then outsourcing skills and services is always a good option.
The word outsourcing does conjure up a little bit of fear for some. There is a loss of control and frequently, a concern that the supplier may not wish to do things the way we would like them to be done. When searching for a suitable partner to provide an outsourced Marketing service, the same rules need to be applied as the business recruitment policies. Does the potential partner have the best skills for the task at hand? What are their credentials? Do their values and business culture fit with ours? How will we measure success? Regardless of whether a Marketing Manager is in-house or sub-contracted, it is far more productive to become one team with a shared goal, rather than operate under a supplier versus client relationship model.
When I started this business over seven years ago, outsourced Marketing Management services were an unusual concept. It felt like we were introducing something different in unchartered territory. Organisations either placed the role of Marketing in the hands of the administration team or employed a specialist in-house. The reality is, most small-sized, growing businesses need a Marketing Assistant, Manager or Director for just a few hours a week, rather than as a part-time or full-time permanent employee. In addition, as recent times have proved, it is not always necessary to be always in the office to get the job done effectively.
Having worked in Marketing for over twenty years for blue chip brands, I originally set up Your Marketing Team on my own as a freelance Marketing Manager. Hence the name! I soon discovered that our clients needed more than one person. They needed a team of experts with a breadth of experience across different industry sectors and all the skills required for an outsourced Marketing department. This covers consultancy, branding, design, digital marketing, content creation, video production, SEO, copywriting and website development. With our team and network of agency partners, we feel fully equipped to offer SMEs a truly effective Marketing department at a fraction of the cost of hiring one!
If you are a growing business considering outsourcing your Marketing tasks, get in touch to find out how we can help.