You might not have consciously thought about it or known what to call it, but we’re all in the midst of a major explosion — a channel explosion. That’s what marketers call the dramatic growth in marketing channels over the past 20 years. Not only is it complicating marketing strategies, it’s also requiring organizations to make tough decisions about when to expand their staff and when to reach out for specialized expertise that isn’t cost-effective to maintain in-house.
With this many marketing channels available, it’s difficult if not impossible for one company to be a master of all of them. You have to choose your areas of in-house expertise and decide when to expand your capabilities by using a partner.
If you’re like most organizations, you probably want to ensure ready access to core capabilities that include marketing strategy and planning; marketing automation; content; email marketing; and social media. These are the capabilities that are needed to effectively execute the strategies that companies identified in our 2017 Digital Marketing Survey as the ones they used most often. So that leaves you with a question: which capabilities do you have on staff and which do you outsource to achieve the best value? Depending on its industry and products, a small-to-midsize company could find it desirable to maintain an in-house marketing team comprised of several or all of the following.
- A director who works with the C-suite to develop and lead a strategy tied to business goals. This person understands data and analytics and probably also works directly with pay-per-click (PPC) and search-engine-optimization(SEO) partners (assuming these tasks are outsourced to experts) as well as oversees other forms of digital ad buying.
- A marketing assistant to liaise with the sales and marketing team and ensure digital tactics are tied to customer relationship management and ensure that leads are moved through the funnel as expected.
- A writer who can deliver content for the variety of sales and marketing needs, including brochures, marketing emails, newsletters, blog posts and social media posts.
- The ubiquitous “web guy/gal” who manages website updates and develops campaign-specific landing pages and microsites, pixeling and remarketing. This person might also assist with marketing automation and e-blasts.
- A social media strategist who manages social assets, planning posts that are tied directly to active campaigns and overseeing boosted and paid strategies and lead generation.
- A graphic designer who can support the entire team and create both printed and digital products.
While this list covers most of the basics, you might still have need for public relations, video, podcasting, webinars and more. In addition to finding it more cost effective to obtain some specialized services as needed, you would also benefit from the perspective of experts with experience gained through working with multiple clients.
The chances of finding all of the outsourced expertise you need with a single partner are slim, which is why the agency model has shifted to become more niche-based. Many companies are finding the most-effective approach is to have one overall strategy partner to identify and facilitate adding resources as needed.
A strategic partner can also assist with an honest goals assessment to determine which tactics will help you achieve your objectives and what “bolt on” resources are needed to execute those tactics without creating an overlap with your staff. If your main goal is lead generation, for example, you would probably benefit from an ace PPC/social ad partner, while continuing to rely on your staff for content and technical execution. Another priority for many companies today is effective measurement, and a strategic partner can help you decide what data to gather and how to interpret it.
Finally, it also pays to think about the value of a strategic partner who can provide business advice in addition to marketing expertise. Strengthening the connection between your business and marketing strategies is the best way to turn channel explosion from chaos into opportunity.