How To Find The Money To Drive Results Despite A Shrinking Marketing Budget
Working with a smaller marketing budget than you’re used to can be incredibly restrictive. Businesses are often forced into making sweeping changes to their marketing department, whether it’s to their in-house marketing team or (and sometimes in addition to) their marketing efforts in general.
The consequences of such changes are often poor results, making it challenging to achieve pre-established marketing goals. However, many businesses don’t realize that just because you have less money to work with doesn’t mean that you can’t still achieve acceptable results.
The key to driving results despite having a smaller budget is how you allocate your marketing dollars. You’ll need to re-evaluate your marketing team and your marketing strategy to get the absolute most out of a smaller budget. And just because you have a smaller budget doesn’t mean that you can’t invest in other marketing opportunities.
A common misconception businesses share is that if you’re burdened with a smaller budget, then the only solution is to make cuts. Yet certain investments can help make it easier to maintain a smaller budget while driving results simultaneously. For example, investing in outsourced marketing.
Is Your Marketing Team Eating Up Your Budget?
When working with a small marketing budget, first determine how cost-effective your marketing team is. An in-house marketing team can be expensive to maintain, especially if you’ve hired specialists who aren’t necessarily needed on every project.
Re-evaluating your marketing team is critical if you need to make cuts to get under budget. It may also allow you to make room in your marketing budget to invest in new marketing opportunities that can help you maintain an acceptable ROI.
Of course, making cuts to your marketing team probably doesn’t seem like a recipe for success. However, many of the positions your full-time employees hold could potentially be filled by rented marketers.
Now, letting employees go to save money only to use that money to outsource may not seem like a winning strategy at first glance. But consider how much your marketing budget is being allocated to your in-house marketing team by taking into account the following costs:
The Hiring Costs Of A Single FTE (Full-Time Equivalent)
Hiring just a single employee requires a lot of resources. Not only can it take time to find the right candidates, but the entire process can also be quite expensive.
Just consider these standard costs associated with the hiring process:
- Cost of advertising the position
- Recruitment or search fees
- Administrative costs
- Cost of hiring outside parties that provide testing, exams, record checking, and interview services
- Travel and meeting costs between candidates and executives
- Potential relocation costs
The General Costs Of Maintaining An FTE
The bulk of the costs associated with an in-house marketing team consists of maintaining an FTE. You will have to pay a yearly salary, health benefits, retirement benefits, social security taxes, unemployment insurance, bonuses, and more.
There are the overhead costs associated with maintaining an FTE as well. These costs can include:
- Office space costs, including rent and electricity
- Equipment costs, which include computers and software solutions
- Furniture costs, such as desks and chairs
- Onboarding costs, which includes training
The Cost Of Replacing An FTE
If an employee leaves your company, whether they were fired, let go, or quit, you’ll face high replacement costs.
Not only will you have to pay for the hiring process all over again, but you may be faced with any number of fees, which can include:
- Severance fees
- Lawyer fees
- Outplacement counseling fees
- Potential lawsuit fees
- Administrative costs
The Cost Of Maintaining An Entire Marketing Team
On top of the associated costs of maintaining an FTE, remember that the salary (and any bonuses or benefits you offer) will vary based on the position. For a marketing team to develop, implement, and manage all of your digital marketing needs, you will need almost a dozen FTEs to fill the required roles.
You’re looking at an estimated cost of a minimum of $500,000 a year — and that’s in salary alone. The following is a brief breakdown of the roles you’ll need to fill:
Web developers are required to build your website. They design and develop websites using various programming languages and are responsible for creating the layout, implementing applications, and integrating graphics.
Graphic designers are responsible for the visual elements of your content across all channels. For instance, brand logos are designed by graphic designers. They use typography, color, composition, and more to create images and illustrations for your content and website.
Content writers write all of your webpages, articles, emails, press releases, and blog posts. Content writers are critical to your marketing efforts because you depend on your content to attract and nurture leads. Not only does content need to be well-written and relevant to your audience, but it also has to remain consistent with your brand’s voice.
On top of writers, you also need editors. Editors comb through the content your writers created to ensure no spelling issues, grammar issues, unverified facts, and other mistakes. They make sure that your content is professional and ready to be published.
Successful digital marketing relies heavily on search engine optimization. An SEO manager is needed to plan, implement, and manage your SEO strategy across all digital channels. SEO managers must be familiar with web marketing, content marketing, web analytics, link building, and keyword strategy.
Paid Search Manager
PPC (Pay per click) advertising is another important facet of digital marketing and is growing due to PPC opportunities on social media platforms like Facebook. Paid search managers oversee the development and execution of PPC strategies to drive traffic to your website or landing pages.
Social Media Manager
These days, social media plays an integral part in inbound marketing. Not only is it an effective way to generate brand awareness, it’s also a channel that can be used to engage directly with customers and leads.
A social media manager is in charge of your social media marketing strategy. They help develop social media marketing campaigns, decide what content is created and shared on social media, and ensure that comments are responded to in a way that reflects your brand’s values.
Building your brand identity is critical to generating brand awareness. A brand specialist is needed to help define how you want customers to think about your business. They are responsible for coordinating with other marketing personnel to ensure that you achieve the brand identity you want.
Research assistants are tasked with monitoring marketing and sales trends, predicting future trends, measuring how existing marketing efforts are performing, performing market research (including customer research and competitive research), and more. It’s the data they collect and the conclusions they draw that help to improve decision making related to your marketing efforts.
Solutions engineers are critical to determining what your customers want and need. They’re necessary for not just your marketing team, but also your sales, customer service, and product and design teams.
They help marketers figure out whether people find your product or service and whether the marketing team’s message is getting across. They have a very technical-oriented skill set that they can use to develop solutions for your marketing team.
VP Of Sales And Marketing
A VP of sales and marketing has a significant number of responsibilities. They must direct, coordinate, and oversee all of your marketing and sales efforts. They are in charge of developing strategies, analyzing results, developing budgets, and much more.
A VP of sales and marketing is responsible for the process of finding leads as well as closing sales. They oversee your marketing and sales teams to ensure that they are on track.
The Cost Of Mistakes
Hiring the wrong FTE can be a disaster. If they don’t have the proper experience or skill set, it could result in mistakes. These mistakes could prove incredibly costly. Such errors can also occur if you’re forcing in-house marketers to take on work they’re not accustomed to.
For instance, if you’re asking someone with no SEO experience to optimize your content, they may use the wrong keywords resulting in new visitors that will never convert because they don’t belong to your target audience.
Another example is hiring a single FTE to do your entire website redesign. While they may have the necessary experience or expertise to handle one part of the redesign, tasking them with the whole project can cause issues.
Not only will they be overwhelmed (which can result in mistakes even at the things they’re good at doing), but your site could experience all types of technical issues that will hurt your user experience.
The Costs Of Disrupting Your Marketing Department
If you hire the wrong FTE, their mistakes can have a domino effect on the rest of your team. They may have to do extra work to address the issues caused by one person’s mistakes, which can create a hostile environment.
Not to mention that if you fire an FTE or an FTE quits, your team will be left shorthanded. If they’re working on a project with strict deadlines, this can leave them overwhelmed and stressed out.
Outsourced Marketing Teams Are A Budget-Friendly Option
Evaluating your in-house marketing team and making cutbacks due to a shrinking budget is one thing, but making space in your budget to outsource is another thing.
While outsourcing is technically an added expense (and one you may need to make room in your budget for), you’ll find that it can help you save money and get the most out of your marketing efforts. Think of the adage “sometimes you have to spend money to make money.” In this case, you could also say, “sometimes you have to spend money to save money.”
The following are a few examples of exactly how outsourced marketing is a cost-effective option that can help drive better results despite a smaller budget:
Shortened Ramp Time To Productivity
One of the challenges of hiring an FTE to address a pressing need is that it takes time for new FTEs to be onboarded and get used to their new responsibilities and work environment.
With a marketing agency, rented marketers can jump onto a project almost immediately, with very little onboarding. Because they don’t have to be integrated into your team on-site, they don’t have to adjust to a new environment. The ramp time to productivity is much shorter, which saves time and money.
No Costly Mis-Hires
Marketing agencies don’t generally make mistakes when it comes to hiring their personnel. They tend to go after highly experienced and skilled marketers because that is the focus of their business. These rented marketers will stick to their core competencies as specialists, which means they’re less likely to make mistakes.
Should someone make a costly mistake, an agency can easily replace them due to their access to such a large pool of specialists. They’ll also put extra people in place to address the mistake and solve it as quickly as possible. Generally, you won’t lose money and time on mis-hires by outsourcing.
Defined Budget & Defined Deliverables
If you depend solely on an in-house marketing team, there’s always a risk that your marketing department might go over budget or schedule. There are too many factors at play that can contribute to these challenges.
For instance, if you’re forced to fire someone (or they quit) in the middle of a project, it can cause you to fall behind schedule. If one or more of your team members makes a costly mistake, it can put you over budget. The risk is practically non-existent when it comes to outsourcing.
A reputable marketing agency will understand what is realistic and what isn’t when it comes to budgets and deliverables. They’re experts at defining your budget and the timetable for your deliverables and will stick to them.
Few reputable agencies go over budget or fail to meet the expected deliverables’ time frame since such a failure can be incredibly damaging to their reputation and business.
Avoid A Sudden Loss Of Manpower
You can find yourself in quite the predicament should an FTE leave your company without warning. Replacing that FTE can take some time, leaving the rest of your marketing team shorthanded. This can be a severe problem if your team is in the middle of a project.
When outsourcing, you’ll never have to worry about it. Should a rented marketer leave all of a sudden, the agency will be able to fill their role immediately. You might even have issues with an internal marketing team should an FTE take the day off or call in sick. You’ll never notice if a rented marketer is out since an agency can find cover at a moment’s notice.
Eliminate Costs Associated With FTEs
Besides the costs of mis-hiring, hiring, and trying to replace FTEs, outsourcing can also help eliminate many other expenses associated with FTEs.
For instance, by outsourcing instead of hiring an FTE, you won’t have to worry about providing an FTE with office space, a desk, a computer, access to marketing solutions, and more. You eliminate many of the overhead costs that you take on when hiring an FTE. Rented marketers already have access to equipment and software and can work off-site.
Access To A Greater Pool Of Talent Instead Of One FTE
Hiring a single FTE can help address an area of need in your marketing team. However, marketing agencies have a vast network of resources and a large pool of talent that can be leveraged to meet your needs. Instead of hiring one FTE, you can augment your team and fill any talent gaps using rented marketers.
Greater Experience With Wide-Ranging Tools & Solutions
Marketing tools and software solutions are expensive. Not only do you have to pay more to gain access to more features, but most solutions also limit the number of users that have access unless you pay for a more expensive plan. However, the more tools and solutions you have access to, the more effectively you can run your marketing campaigns.
Unfortunately, you may be very limited in terms of what solutions you can afford within your budget constraints. If you outsource your marketing, you won’t have to worry about this.
Marketing agencies already have access to most of the top-tier marketing software solutions and tools that are needed. They subscribe to these solutions knowing full well that it allows them to do a more effective job.
When you work with an agency, they will leverage all of the tools they have at their disposal to help you achieve your marketing goals. You won’t have to cough up valuable marketing dollars to access the tools you need.
What Types of Marketing Initiatives And Resources Can You Outsource?
Let’s say you decide to optimize your marketing budget allocation to outsource B2B marketing to drive results despite a smaller budget. What exactly should you outsource? The odds are you won’t transition from an in-house marketing team to 100 percent outsourcing. In fact, you shouldn’t do this.
The most balanced and effective marketing teams tend to consist of both in-house and rented marketers. However, when developing (or adjusting) your marketing strategy, first decide what makes the most sense to outsource. Here are the two main types of work that businesses tend to outsource to professional marketing agencies:
Big projects require proper planning and execution to have the impact you want them to have. Not only can a consulting firm help provide guidance in the development stages of the project, but they can also use the talent at their disposal to complete the project.
A reliable marketing agency can take on the entire project or augment your existing marketing staff to help in its completion. An example of a large project might be the total overhaul of your company website. If you don’t have developers working for you in-house, a marketing agency will be able to provide one for you, along with whatever other specialists you might need.
Longer Team-Based Work
Many of the rented marketers you may have used to complete a project won’t be needed over the long-term. However, marketing agencies are helpful for longer team-based work as well.
For instance, if you plan to put more resources behind your content marketing strategy, rented marketers can help you create content relevant to your audience to be published at a regular schedule for the foreseeable future.
Executing such a strategy can be challenging to do in-house since it will require a small staff dedicated to creating content. You would need a content creator, editor, SEO manager, and potentially a graphic designer to create the content.
You would also require additional staff to promote the content and analyze its performance. Maintaining such a team over the long term can be expensive, which is why so many businesses rely on marketing agencies to help with their longer team-based work.
You Can Still Drive Results Despite A Smaller Marketing Budget
Don’t resign yourself to less than stellar results just because you have a smaller marketing budget than usual to work with. While a smaller budget can be restrictive, you should still achieve acceptable results if you optimize your budget allocation.
If you are being forced to make cuts or need to adapt to uncertain times, then outsourcing is a very viable solution. Making space in your budget so that you can hire a professional marketing consultant will help you save money in both the short and long-term.
And outsourced marketing services can also help you develop a more cost-effective marketing strategy while getting the most out of your current marketing efforts.