Outsourcing Marketing


What elements of the Marketing Mix would a Software company look to outsource??

This was a great question asked by Atul Dhakappa on Linkedin. For the benefit of a larger audience, here is my answer to the same:

That’s a dilemma that really baffles a lot of marketing managers, especially when you’re dealing with intangibles like Software Services.

There are two aspects to Marketing activities: The development of the message and the execution of the communication.

The first aspect, development of the message, is very central to what you intend to communicate about your product, service or organization. There is essentially no way that you want someone external to your organization, do this for you. Not just for the simple reason that they might not have an understanding of your organization, but even if they have, they would be too caught up with the "how to communicate" rather than the "what to communicate".

The second aspect, execution of communication, is the spadework that goes into marketing. The development of content, design of marketing material, management of events etc. are what goes into this aspect. I believe that you could count on external agencies to help you do this, specifically letting their expertise in the execution help to get your message across effectively. I am of the strong opinion that completely outsourcing any component would be suicide, as its your product, service or company’s image on the line there. It would always be essential to have close oversight over all activities.

So if we were to take an inventory of your listed activities:

Design: Outsource the actual design process. Keep the idea generation and message creation inhouse.

Branding: Completely inhouse for the positioning and message creation. You may solicit opinions from consultants if required.

Newsletters: Keep a strong hold on the content. Outsource the creation and distribution.

Website Content: Like newsletters, keep a hold on the content and response. Designing, hosting and analytics can be outsourced.

Ghost writing of Blogs: I’ll have to agree with Karen Olenick [Another professional who answered the question] on this. Let employees / internal stakeholders generate the content in the blogs. You can have certain checks for confidentiality and equity, but try not to censor. You may outsource the blog website maintenance.

Event Coordination: This you may outsource to a event management firm who have the requisite expertise, though you have to keep a close watch on the execution and effectiveness of the events.

Integrated lead management programs: This may be outsourced, but it would be more effective to engage a sales and marketing consultant and put a solid lead management process in place. I prefer taking the conservative way and having the sales team generate and manage leads. This way you’ll have stronger leads than just a huge list of names and contact details.

Key Accounts Marketing: These are your biggest customers. I prefer not to let go of the personal touch with them. All marketing to these clients should be done by you. You could outsource the development of the material, but delivery has to be done by your team alone. It can be rather damaging to your image if they found out they were at the receiving end of cookie cutter marketing.

I would love to hear your [the reader of this post] opinions on this.