What makes for a superb outsourced marketing strategy? First things first, you need your heavy cream, some whole milk, a healthy dose of sugar… eggs… vanilla extract… hmm okay, so this is beginning to sound more like dessert. Well, it just so happens that outsourcing your marketing is a lot like making ice cream!
However, an outsourced marketing partnership gone awry can be a real frozen headache. If you’re thinking about outsourcing this spring (or any time of year for that matter), you’ll want to keep it cool with these 7 best practicesHere’s the scoop!
1. Agree on a recipe for success. While you interview prospective marketing firms, be sure to discuss the goals you have for your business. This also includes a timeline in which you hope to reach them and the general budget you’re working with – and of course, whether you’ll be serving waffle, wafer or sugar cones! This conversation should quickly clarify whether or not a particular firm is a solid fit for you. With an outsourced marketing firm, you will be routinely establishing goals and monitoring progress, so it’s important to settle on your joint recipe’s primary ingredients.
2. Sprinkle in your mutual expecations. For starters, no terrible ice cream truck music! With that out of the way, next you’ll want to decide in what format and how often you will communicate – as well as how you’re holding each other accountable for deliverables. Whipping up an editorial calendar for the first three months can make all the difference. But remember to leave a little wiggle room for adjustments in the outline. When you have the basics down, the fancy chocolate fudge and candied pecans can top off your strategy later!
3. Clarify your order before you’re at the counter. It’s important to understand the difference between outsourcing and employing. Since your outsourced marketing department is not working under your roof, you can’t just walk into the other room to provide direction or receive feedback. Once again, communication is the key. Just because ice cream is cold, your relationship doesn’t have to be! Clarify when you’d like a response to a particular inquiry, and allow each other flexibility. When outsourcing to a partner, mutual trust is critical.
4. Recognize your outsourced firm as the lead glacier. No, not a gigantic moving sheet of ice – the Frrrrench word for ice cream maker! The best marketing teams are collaborative, with a number of people serving up their talent and ideas. However, there is a need for one designated leader in the creamery, a chief marketing officer of sorts. It’s important to communicate to your in-house team that the outsourced marketing firm serves as CMO, keeping the marketing moving smoothly in the right direction.
5. Mix in your expertiseAs a successful business professional, it’s likely you’ve acquired some important insights into your industry’s marketing landscape that outsiders may lack. Chances are you know a thing or two about your customers’ preferences – or perhaps some deeper field-specific knowledge to which others do not have the access. Sure, your outsourced firm should exhibit a skillful handle on marketing for a myriad of industries, but they still value and require your input. So don’t be afraid to mix vigorously every now and then!
6. Consider the ice cream cake. Ice cream cake – the perfect partnership. If you’re looking to micro-manage your marketing, it may be time to (banana) split and hire an in-house freelancer instead.  On the other end of the spectrum, your outsourced marketing department isn’t supposed to make all the ice cream while you lounge by the pool completely uninvolved. The right firm will be a partner in your business – a partner that brings a fresh perspective to the table, provides you with data and suggestions to make better decisions, and pushes back on your ideas when appropriate.
7. Don’t be so vanilla. Not everyone thinks and works the way you do. A vital component to outsourcing is welcoming creative differences. Embrace the gamut of flavor combinations! If someone else’s solution is laying rum raisin over chocolate chip cookie dough (and you can’t even fathom how that’s going to work), sit back and trust your team to create the magic. It’s important to remain open-minded. Moreover, marketing strategies encounter ALL kinds of variables and not every tactic will work 100% of the time. But always remember, if a particular approach doesn’t achieve the desired results, it can always be changed!
Investing in outsourced marketing services doesn’t work for everybody. But if it’s the right choice for your business, do yourself a flavor and follow these tips to make the working relationship as effective as possible!