There's a great deal of uncertainty in the US business landscape right now. Economic growth has been stuck at an anemic 1-2 % for almost ten years and the real unemployment rate is hovering around 10%. In this uncertain economic environment, businesses are holding off on making investments in people and large-scale purchases. Many economists feel that our economy is in a state of transition to a "gig economy", where workers don't work for a single employer, but work for a multitude of employers on an "as-needed" basis.
For professional services businesses, this is a good thing. Businesses are increasingly outsourcing non-core business functions like finance, accounting, marketing and human resources. Outsourcing these functions allows businesses to avoid the increasingly high fringe costs of hiring full-time employees to perform these functions like medical insurance, retirement plans and unemployment insurance. It also allows businesses to access these resources on an "as-needed" basis from month to month. Why pay a full-time employee when you don't need 100% of her capacity in a given month?
There are several additional reasons why businesses should consider outsourcing inbound marketing to expert consultants and agencies. After all, inbound marketing matches with the modern buying process - the business of the future won't be able to survive without inbound marketing. How do you know whether it makes sense for your company to outsource inbound marketing? Here are 3 undeniable signs that you should outsource your inbound marketing.
Reason 1: You're not getting business results
This seems pretty self-evident doesn't it? While it does take time to get results from inbound marketing, it's important to set reasonable SMART goals for the metrics that flow to your bottom line: website visitors, leads and customers.
Yes, it does take time for Google to index the content you are creating and serve it up in search engine results. But if you're not using keywords properly in your content and you're not promoting it properly, you won't get the results you need.
An effective inbound marketing effort publishes content strategically, includes lead generation offers in it and promotes it effectively. If you're just publishing blog posts and hoping for the best, you're destined to fail. Because inbound marketing is 100% measurable, you can and should be adjusting your tactics monthly.
If you're not getting the results you need for your business based on reasonable SMART goals, you likely don't have the expertise in-house to get results. Which brings us to the next reason you should outsource your inbound marketing.
Reason 2: You don't have inbound marketing expertise internally
Inbound marketing is a relatively new form of marketing. It's also evolving rapidly - literally daily. If your in-house marketing people come from a traditional marketing background or are generalists, they likely don't have the expertise to effectively manage an inbound marketing program.
This doesn't mean that they don't have value! It just means that they can be more effective in their jobs with a little help from a specialist inbound marketing agency or consultant. The basics of messaging and communication are vitally important to inbound marketing. If you team up your marketing generalists with specialized inbound marketers, you can drive results relatively quickly.
But beware - there are a lot of people calling themselves inbound marketing experts that don't have the experience and qualifications necessary to do the job properly. Old school SEO agencies that haven't updated their skills won't get the job done. Look for agencies that have appropriate certifications and can demonstrate success getting website visitors, leads and customers with inbound marketing tactics.
If you want to develop your internal people to perform better, we recommend that they get the free HubSpot inbound marketing certification. HubSpot also offers free certifications in specialized areas like email marketing and content marketing.
Reason 3: You don't know where to start
Like anything else, it's a fool's errand to start implementing inbound marketing tactics without a strategy. If you don't have internal specialized expertise in inbound marketing to help develop your strategy, it just won't be effective.
So where should you start? A new website? Start publishing blog posts? Social media?
The real answer is that you should start with a strategy that is based on driving visitors to your website, converting them to leads and then converting leads to sales. A good strategy will prioritize your activities based on what's important and what needs to happen sequentially to produce results.
It should also recognize your internal strengths and weaknesses to help you decide which elements of the plan to outsource and which to execute internally.
For most SMB companies, I think it makes sense to outsource at least some of your inbound marketing program. As Donald Rumsfeld once said, "because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know." My suggestion? Schedule a consultation with me to uncover some of your unknown unknowns.