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Marketing Outsourcing: The Way Of The Future

By: Neville Pokroy

Neville is President of Stantech Marketing, a marketing firm specializing in strategic marketing planning and the development and execution of marketing strategies and plans. Neville's business background includes retail and consumer goods marketing, as well as consulting with entrepreneurial businesses in areas as diverse as computer software, management consulting, financial services, industrial wholesaling, legal and recruitment.
Neville holds a Bachelors degree in Accounting and Marketing and a Postgraduate degree in Marketing. He is currently VP of Marketing for the Association of Independent Consultants and can be reached at (905) 709-1207. His website address is www.stantechmarketing.com.

Utilizing permanent marketing employees is not the only technique to practice marketing.
Outsourcing provides a genuine alternative. Especially for small and medium sized businesses.
It is cost effective. It is efficient. It is the way of the future.

Introduction

The world is changing - rapidly. Technology is impacting on everything we do. Products and services proliferate, and the choices confronting potential customers are too numerous to contemplate. Things are great, if you can cope with such rapid change.

Business growth is the order of the day, and quite often, despite the efforts of the company itself. Very often, the company experiences a slow down in growth before coming to the conclusion that something more is needed in the business. And in this ever-changing world, how will companies maintain satisfactory growth if they aren't effectively organized from a marketing perspective?

With great difficulty, one imagines. Why?

Having a good command on the direction markets and competitors are moving, and developing strategies, products, services and communications to reach potential customers during this ongoing shift, is the reason. From a company identity to sales materials; from advertising to sales or customer incentives; from market trends to customer trends; from marketing objectives to sales targets. All of the above, and lot's more, are crucial to the long term health of a company. And that is a primary responsibility of the marketing expert.

So how does medium and small business cope with this challenge without a permanent marketing function within the company? Very often it doesn't. It's left to the company owner or a "designated person" to market the company, and usually that person does not have the expertise to undertake the task.

But there is a solution. It's called Marketing Outsourcing.


Marketing Outsourcing Defined

Marketing Outsourcing is the utilization of a marketing expert for the prime purpose of providing a company with marketing expertise, without needing to add the fixed overhead.

Many companies find it difficult to justify permanent marketing employees, either from a cost perspective and/or from a time perspective. Outsourcing provides a new and efficient alternative by offering the company flexibility of controlling just how much time and money it wants to allocate to the marketing function, and still have the highest quality expertise and experience to call upon.

To many companies, marketing is still a mystery. So before one can truly understand how outsourcing can help, let's take a quick look at marketing in it's simplest form.


Marketing Simplified

Marketing is not selling. Marketing is not advertising. Marketing is not packaging. Marketing is not sales promotion. Marketing is not product development. Marketing however is all of the above mentioned, plus much more. Marketing is, in fact, business.

To illustrate this point in very simple terms:


Think of marketing as a motor vehicle, with the various elements of the marketing mix as it's component pieces. For example, product development could represent the engine, selling could represent the wheels, packaging could represent the bodywork, and advertising could represent the gas. Each component piece is crucial to the vehicle, but without the whole, the vehicle could not be propelled forward. That is the role of marketing - fitting the pieces together in a co-ordinated manner that best moves the company forward.

Marketing is a planning function. It's the thinking, preparing part of selling.

Complicated? Not really. Crucial? Absolutely. However, the needs of each company differ, and the flexibility that outsourcing offers in fitting these pieces together represents a huge opportunity for most small and medium sized companies.

Every company markets itself in some way or another. Often without really knowing it. And very often, in ways that contradict each other. That is the real challenge. Making sure that the company's offering and the customer communication is consistent with the company's overall goals and desired image. This is true, regardless of the nature of the company or the industry.


The Benefits Of Marketing Outsourcing

Utilizing such a resource allows the organization to:
  • maintain a tight rein of it's "head count" and fixed overheads.
  • have high quality, senior level, professional marketing expertise at it's fingertips.
  • have an independent source of information and ideas that can offer a business perspective from beyond the company culture.
  • have control over the amount of time that is required to manage the marketing function.
  • have meaningful control over the costs of marketing.
  • have access to experts in various marketing fields that the marketing resource could bring into the process on an "as needed" basis.
This flexibility and a significant degree of discipline is crucial to smaller types of companies who often have to be quick on their feet, and act as a "guerrilla" in the war that is business. Survival of the fittest does not always mean the "biggest". It means the "smartest" and most "focused". And it also means the most organized. And without the organized focus on customers and customer needs, failure is almost guaranteed.


What Kinds Of Organizations Can Benefit Most?
  • Small and medium sized organizations who do not have a formal, internal marketing set-up.
  • Small and medium sized organizations who are growing rapidly and require additional assistance in managing this growth.
  • Large organizations who are downsizing and require additional marketing support as a supplement to their existing (now smaller) marketing set-up.
  • Large organizations who are growing rapidly and require additional assistance in managing this growth.
Outsourcing is currently being utilized very successfully in numerous business functions, including legal, finance and human resources, in different sized organizations. The recognition that marketing can be successfully outsourced is a notion that is beginning to gain universal acceptance, particularly in companies who have been unable to undertake extensive marketing activities because they felt they "couldn't afford it". The availability of top quality marketing professionals as an outsourced resource is changing that rapidly.


What Kinds Of Problems Can Be Resolved With Marketing?

If you've ever been faced with any of the following, experienced marketing support can help you:
  • your market is undergoing change
  • your major competitors are growing faster than you
  • you're not aware of the direction your competitors are moving in
  • you feel that you have gaps in your product or service offering
  • you don't know how your customers really feel about your company
  • you don't know exactly what your customer's needs are
  • you don't know why your customers buy from competitors
  • you don't have clear company goals and objectives
  • everyone in your organization is not clear on the direction the company is moving in
  • communication in your organization is not always consistent and clear
  • you don't have a clear plan of growth
  • you don't have a qualified person responsible for marketing
  • you don't have formalized customer service procedures
  • you don't know whether all your products are truly profitable
  • you're not sure whether your prices are competitive
  • you're unsure whether there are alternative ways of distributing your products
  • you're not sure whether your sales force is too big/too small
  • you're not sure about all the alternatives to advertising
These are just some of the issues that an outsourced marketing resource can help you to resolve. Some may be organizational, some may be strategic, some may be tactical, and some may be executional. But all of them can be resolved with the support of a marketing professional.


Conclusion

Utilizing full-time/permanent marketing employees is not the only option available to organizations to practice marketing. Outsourcing provides a genuine alternative to developing and executing marketing tasks. It is cost effective and it is efficient. It is the way of the future.

Such a specialized Marketing resource will work together with company management to ensure success and prosperity for the entire organization and their stakeholders.

© Copyright, 2001, Neville Pokroy

Other Articles by Neville Pokroy

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.

 

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