In today’s economy, companies are looking to cut costs wherever they can while still maintaining, or even increasing, their presence in the market. Many are outsourcing their CFO functions (http://bit.ly/wmC4f). So why wouldn’t the same hold true for the role of marketing director?
By no means am I suggesting that you should eliminate any internal marketing functions. But right or wrong, marketing is often the first place companies cut when they want to decrease costs. If you are looking for ways to maintain or increase your presence in the market, “renting” a marketing director may be a good option.
Pay for only what you need
Marketing is a cost center where it is difficult to prove return on investment. While there are many opinions on how ROI can be measured – many of them valid –it’s still a bit of a crapshoot. And when budgets are being cut, choices have to be made. Using an outside marketing director allows you to focus on specific projects, and you only pay for the expertise you need. It can also allow you to supplement the capabilities of your internal staff, if you have one.
Try before you buy
Professional services firms are often reluctant to bring on a full-time marketer because they don’t completely understand what they do and because of the salary commitment. Many times the marketing director is the sole person in their department, and the others in the firm aren’t sure how to manage their work. By hiring an outside consultant to help you create a plan, determine your unique differentiators and manage the campaigns, you can get to know what to expect from this role. With the average marketing director making between $75,000 and $150,000, hiring one is not a decision a small or mid-sized firm can take lightly. Working with an experienced consultant can be much more cost-effective than hiring a full-time staff member before you are ready to take on that headcount.
Get an outside or user’s perspective on your industry, firm and competition
By hiring a marketing professional who specializes in your field, you not only gain someone who will handle the work of the firm, but also someone with the knowledge of what is going on in your industry. You may also get an outsider’s perspective of where your firm falls into the competitive landscape, and how you can best stand out from the crowd. Your employees are busy and often have little time to keep up with what the competition is doing. An outside consultant can bring this valuable knowledge, so your marketing initiatives can be much more effective and unique from the start. Keep in mind, you know your firm inside and out, and can impart that knowledge to your consultant. But the right consultant will know your industry – possibly better than you do – and can offer a different insight.
Get the skills you need when you need them
Like any part of business, marketing needs ebb and flow. And it’s hard to find any one person who has all the knowledge and expertise you need. An outside consultant is paid for the work they do, and therefore you can decide how much or little you need their services during fat and lean times. Do you have a new service you really want to push? Hire someone to come in and manage the process. Once that campaign is over, your needs may decrease to a level that can be handled internally. Have some additional funds you need to spend before the end of the year? An outside consultant can help you determine the best way to use those dollars. Then when your budget needs change, so can your relationship with your consultant. You are the one in control of how much or little they work.
Flexible pay structure
Most outside consultants will work with you to create a pay structure that works best for your business model. If you aren’t sure how much or often you’ll need their services, an hourly fee may be the best bet. Need someone to help with a particular campaign? Discuss project pricing that can be paid in installments. Or do you need someone who you can call on at a moment’s notice yet you still want to know what your marketing fees will be from month to month? Establish a monthly retainer that will give you immediate access to your marketing consultant when you need them.
Keep projects on task
Many internal marketing directors are faced with juggling 20 projects at once, and it’s almost impossible to complete all tasks. Sadly, projects often fall through the cracks and never get completed. Why not offload a few of these bigger projects to a marketing consultant who can shepherd them through the process and ensure they get completed on time and on budget. This is a great way to augment your internal marketing team; they focus on key daily marketing tasks, yet your firm still gets everything completed. It’s a win-win.
A marketing consultant won’t replace internal staff, but can be a great option to fill in the gaps when needed.