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Should I Outsource Marketing, or do it In-house?

Hire a digital marketing agency for your school marketing.

Having a website is not a strategy. Neither is hope…

Websites don’t age gracefully. They just sort of get old. Websites don’t just get found because of divine intervention…somebody has to drive this thing.

You can hire an intern, hand it off to your staff, or hand it off to a professional. Each of these choices has their own unique advantages and repercussions.

There’s a big difference between maintaining the content on an existing website, and developing and executing an actual Digital Marketing strategy. Simple content updates can typically be handled by an intern or staff member on a part time basis. When it comes down to actual marketing or design, whomever takes on the job (novice or professional) should have an appropriate working background.

Author’s Note: Many schools and businesses have the resources to manage their own marketing programs, but don’t have the expertise to formulate a Digital Marketing Plan. We are launching a new program where we create the strategy for your team.

Successful Internet marketing requires elements of Technical knowledge, Business acumen and Visual aptitude. The challenge is that most individuals have a maximum of two out of the three traits. Typically, technical and creative are at odds, with business often being a learned skill. That may present you with some interesting choices. Should you use multiple internal resources? Outsource to a professional agency that already has their team in place…or some combination?

Option #1: Hand it off to Your Staff

The obvious place to start is with who’s already working for you. It’s tempting, but think this one through.

The advantages are obvious. After all, they already work for you, so it’s the path of least resistance. Current employee’s probably know the industry (or at least their part of the industry), but do they actually have the time, aptitude and knowledge? This often becomes a part-time effort because that isn’t their “real job.”

Sometimes your employee will view this new assignment as an opportunity and a vote of confidence, and rise to the occasion. Sometimes they will view it as just piling on to their existing responsibilities with little incentive to do anything more than make a passable effort.

And what happens to their current duties? How do they learn? Do you compensate them differently? Can you spread their workload among your other employees, or will you have to pick up the slack yourself?

That’s all logistics and can be solved by moving a few pieces around the chess board. The greater issue is knowledge. Just because you put someone in charge of Internet marketing doesn’t make them an Internet Marketer. Blogs, webinars, guides, actual classroom instruction, and hands-on practice is how most of us acquired our skills. The knowledge is out there if you are willing to absorb their learning curve and if you are comfortable with unclear results.

Option #2: Hire an Intern

Potentially cost effective, but an intern is there to practice and to learn. By definition that makes them inexperienced, and possibly a liability to your company image. This could be a great low-cost solution if all you are looking for is someone to maintain your website under the guidance of someone who knows your business.

Not all interns are created equal. Before you go hiring your nephew “Tristan” because he’s got more followers than you on Instagram, realize that this person in one way or another will have an influence on your company image. Don’t confuse comfort of technology, with business acumen.

A college student looking to practice what they are learning in school might be a better choice if you go this route. With designs on starting a professional marketing career, they might be more motivated, and prone to absorbing the learning curve on their own time. Just keep in mind that they are still learning and not professionals yet.

Option #3: Outsource to an Agency

Disclaimer: I manage a Digital Marketing agency, so if I come off biased in favor of this solution, I’m sure you can appreciate that.

Agencies can offer expertise, scalability, time savings, and can save you from expensive mistakes. But not all agencies are created equal. Some clearly have a better track record of success than others. Some agencies may have experience in your industry, or a related industry, but that is certainly not a prerequisite.

Here are a few pointers on what to look for:

  • What does THEIR online reputation look like?
  • Do they show up in the search engines themselves?
  • Do they have any marketing experience in the education industry or similar industries?

The advantage of working with a professional marketing team is typically broad knowledge, deep resources, and the big picture to coordinate and manage the website, search and social campaigns.

Option #4: Collaboration with an Agency or consultant

There’s a hybrid option that is working well with a few of our clients right now. On occasions our clients assigned one of their employees to work with us under our direction. We handle all the strategy and technical stuff, and assigned their staff member certain tasks within their skill level, such as basic blogging and content curation. In essence, we treated their employee as our intern. This allowed us to reduce our fees proportionally as we did the heavy lifting, and their employee took over some of the menial chores.

According to a Marketing Charts survey, 81% believe that either outsourcing to a specialist (17%) or combining in-house resources and outsourcing (64%) represent the most effective resources for executing SEO tactics.

Making the Decision:

Make your decision based on the desired result, not perceived cost. Look for value, but don’t shop on price alone because that can be deceiving. Do the math, if you can hire a professional team for a year for the same or less than what you would pay an employee for a year, save the learning curve and the wear and tear on your employee.

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