Outsourcing 2

The Value of Outsourcing Your Marketing

The concept of outsourcing isn’t new, but the trend continues to gain momentum.  From a marketing perspective, it means gaining the professionalism, expertise and deep experience of a marketing resource versus hiring someone and carrying them on your payroll.  As a result, having this kind of resource can provide you with a quick ramp-up to implementing marketing initiatives centered on business growth.  Being able to tap directly into a professional marketing resource for collateral development, brand initiatives, customer communication projects, digital marketing, public relations, event coordination, website design and more is a huge advantage.   
 
It is also a less expensive option to hiring a full-time equivalent.  You’ll have fee structures that bring a level of predictability through a defined scope of services.  And, the arrangement is often flexible allowing you to modify the scale of services to match your business situation.  Plus, your services model provides inroads to supporting marketing services that can be bundled with your monthly agreement or used to augment project work. 
 
The trend of outsourcing continues not only in popularity but in practical application. 
Companies that choose to outsource their marketing function are able to remain focused on their core competencies while trusting the expertise of a marketing professional to work in parallel with them.  The value is there and companies will continue to pursue these advantageous opportunities.
 

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While in the waiting room of a doctor's office, I noticed a couple of framed posters on the wall that caught my attention. With an emphasis on sports medicine, this particular office is well known for their expertise in treating both athletes and those who enjoy moderate sports activities.

As I approached the large posters, I was immediately struck by the testimonials each one projected. The first was an image of former swimmer Amy Van Dyken. Beneath her picture, the text read "4 time Olympic Gold Medalist". However, that had been modified when Amy autographed the poster. Next to her signature, Amy had marked through the number 4 and written 6! But, here's where the eye-opener comes in - - next to that, she wrote "thanks to you". The endorsement now stated "6 time Olympic Gold Medalist - Thanks to You"; directly attributing her success to the sports medicine doctor.
 
The second poster was one of former Major League Baseball player, Jeff Bagwell, when he played for the Houston Astros. Next to his autograph, he wrote "Thank you for helping me make it to the World Series." Wow! That's the type endorsement you just don't see every day.
 
Your business really isn't that different from this sports medicine doctor. Granted, you may not have access to the same "star power" of a celebrity endorsement, but if you're doing a good job for your customers, surely someone will want to boast about that on your behalf.
 
Endorsements are powerful and can be used in many ways such as your website, in newsletters, brochures, etc. All it takes is a simple quote, a comment or something similar that states your business delivers what you promise and your customer receives the expected result - maybe even more!

Even if you are not a golf fan, stories about the Masters tournament played at Augusta National will interest you. Some tell of the personal side of a player like Phil Mickelson and his family while others remain centered on the game itself. Beyond the stories, though, is a mind-boggling business that makes this a big time event.

Tickets for the tournament days are nearly impossible to obtain unless you know someone. Practice round tickets are only available through a lottery system. It's all highly controlled by the tournament because they can do it. And that's how they like it.

Why? Because the demand is there. Plus, they like the prestige and tradition that are synonymous with the Masters.

For an operation that is only 'public' a few days out of the year, the tournament can turn a buck. It's done strategically and very effectively. Food and beverage options are very inexpensive considering the venue and the process for obtaining a quick meal is simple and easy. That's all by design.

But, rather than mark up food and beverage items beyond reason, it is the merchandise that sells like crazy. Nowhere else can you buy authentic Masters merchandise but at Augusta National (of course, there are those who resell on eBay). Lines of patrons file into the pro shops to grab whatever gear they can with the coveted Masters logo on it. You name it and they have it - golf shirts and tee-shirts to ball caps and ball markers. There are towels, flags, playing cards, belts and more.

Just as quickly as the merchandise flies off the shelf, it is restocked by fast moving clerks. It's an amazing process as the clerks know that everyone in the shop is there to buy something. They don't have to persuade anyone. It's a dream come true for retail selling. Imagine the margins on these products. Tee-shirts are $26, ball caps are $24 and golf shirts are $68. With the buying power that the Masters undoubtedly wields, the profits must be extremely favorable.

Even though this entire operation is an extraordinary one, it doesn't happen automatically. The Masters tournament understands their market. They understand demand and they know how to sell right into it - without really having to sell.

That's where some businesses miss it. They think a product will sell itself or that demand will somehow be there. That's not always the case. Sometimes you have to create it. And, oftentimes, you have to sell it. However, when everything is aligned (strategy, marketing, sales and service), you will reap the rewards.

Wouldn't it be great to be the 'Masters' of your market!

Yep, it appears Denny's is at it again. They must be on to something that is working. A new advertisement is launching to promote another free meal for their Grand Slamwich. As they did during the Super Bowl ad, Denny's will be offering a freebie to those who bring a friend who could use a good meal. The idea is to promote 'acts of kindness'. A good idea, no doubt, and one that will continue to boost their already high brand favorability.

Some may be asking why they would bother with another free offer. In marketing, there is no more powerful word than 'free'. And, it works. It's obviously working for Denny's because they wouldn't bother investing in another promotion of this type if the first had been unsuccessful. Plus, they understand the importance of consistency. The Super Bowl promo could have easily been a one-off, one-time deal that we soon forgot about. But, no, the marketing pros at Denny's recognize that and are ready to pull the trigger again. When this ad hits, there will be many consumers who recall the Super Bowl promotion and thousands upon thousands who will recall excellent service and quality food when they partook of the free Grand Slam meal back in February.

This is likely to create a lot of additional buzz for Denny's. That's only part of what they're after. It is the buzz that translates into revenue dollars that will be the real measure. I'm betting they'll please a lot of hungry patrons while bringing a smile to the company's bottom line.

 

On a trip to the coast last fall, I observed a fisherman that to me appeared to know what he was doing. He arrived on the beach and proceeded to mark his spot, prepare bait and set his pole with high hopes of landing 'the big one'. I watched out of curiosity as he cast his rod then waited patiently for a bite on the end of the line. Sure enough, he had action in no time. From my vantage point and distance from him, it was difficult to see exactly what he caught, but I did witness a few 'keepers'. At the same time, there were definitely some 'throw backs'.

As this scene unfolded, it reminded me of how many companies approach their marketing. The intentions are normally good, but sometimes the strategy and execution are lacking. Simply casting your marketing dollars into the blue abyss hoping for a big bite is a high risk and expensive venture. It's essentially the same as mass communication with the intention of reeling in perhaps only a select few keepers. The bait and rod may be right and even the blue waters where those prospects are looming, but tossing a 'hook' for anyone to snag probably isn't the best approach.

Wouldn't you have a much better opportunity of success by identifying who you want to send your message to, tailoring it to their needs and then executing a plan that properly connects with them? Such an approach is targeted and strategic to maximize your marketing investment and efforts.

Think about that the next time you're tempted to bait your hook before tossing it to the masses.

As if the Super Bowl wasn't enough, Denny's stepped up to the plate and smacked one right out of the park...or was it through the uprights?! Through their :30 second advertising spot during the Super Bowl, Denny's promoted their free Grand Slam breakfast at all US restaurants from 6AM till 2PM on the Tuesday following super Sunday.

Great idea? Youbet. During this economy? Brilliant.

Sure, Super Bowl ads are ultra expensive, but when you consider the nearly immediate call to action that Denny's promoted, the pay-off was sure to follow. And that's what happened. People came, a lot of them waited patiently in long lines, they ate, were satisfied...and then what? Well, the real ROI for Denny's is the bet that these people will come back and become loyal patrons to the restaurant.

That's one of the keys to this campaign. Denny's advertising message was put in front of millions of people - mass communication. But, they hit a hot button with the viewing audience - free. Who can beat that these days? A free meal, sure. More than that, they drew people into their restaurants - perhaps some for the first time. Once they came, Denny's had to deliver. Service had to be spot-on. The food quality had to be tops. The customer experience had to be superb.

Well, based on the reviews, it looks like the free Grand Slam was a winner. When Denny's statistically measures their spike in meals served over the coming weeks, they should see increased revenues. The key will be keeping these customers and converting them into loyal patrons. Otherwise, they risk the short-term enjoyment of a sharp revenue increase that could easily drop back down to previous levels.

It's amazing how much we put up with in this world that simply isn't worthwhile. Take advertising for instance. How many times have you been offended by advertisers making wild assumptions about your preferences? Do they really know you? And what about bombarding you with unwelcome messages over and over again? When you've had enough, it seems a sign like this may be appropriate:

Wouldn't it be nice if marketers took the time to know their potential buyers before making broad generalizations or assumptions about you? And think about the effect this would have on their marketing execution. Creative is great and cleverness has its place, but making a strong connection to a buyer is key. Demonstrating that your product or services will easily solve a problem or efficiently address an issue is the objective of your marketing.

Don't play games and don't fall into the trap of pestering your market. If you do, you'll quickly find that you're not welcome!

Instead, be tactful and strategic. Pinpoint where you need to distribute your messaging and promotions. And, do it in such a manner that it is well received - consistently hitting the mark. You'll soon find that such an approach will prove to work well and help grow your business.

Believe it or not, but I've actually seen companies refer to marketing as a game, race or contest of some type. Having spent 20 years dedicated to this profession, this is insulting not so much to me, but to businesses out there. Let's be very clear about this: marketing is a continuous process. It is not a game, there is no finish line, and no winner is declared. Any kind of thinking along those lines suggests that marketing actually ends. If that's the case, then you can kiss any sales increases goodbye, say so long to revenue growth...you get the picture.

The idea is that properly planned and strategically executed marketing activity will influence your sales and business development efforts and ultimately help you achieve revenue goals. BUT, that's not where it ends - otherwise, pull down the blinds, shut your doors, and hit the showers. As a continuous process, marketing will keep your sales engine running well with the right amount of fuel. You never want that well to dry up.

Always consider the criticality of your marketing strategy, plan, execution, implementation and measurement. Keep that engine running and your marketing roadmap clear of obstacles and dead-ends. Doing so will put you on the path to business growth...not the end of the line. And, when you have a moment, check out MarketingSherpa's wisdom report.

Demonstrating marketing ROI presents plenty of challenges, but it isn't impossible. If companies will take the time to determine what they want to measure and what is reasonable, then the process will make a lot more sense to everyone involved. One of the misconceptions is that ANY marketing tactic will result in significant sales - immediately. Well, we all wish that was the case, but marketing is a process that paves the way and provides the tools for effective selling.

The best way to measure is to implement the proper tools that can provide meaningful data. For instance, a CRM solution integrates both sales and marketing activity so that you have a single view of all initiatives. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a good example and an implementation expert like Customer Effective is worth considering who has a sole focus on making CRM effective. Other tools help measure web site traffic and important statistics related to campaigns where site traffic spikes should be tracked. WebTrends has a fantastic web analytics solution for that very purpose. And, WebTrends is integrated into CRM so you have a seamless reporting capability for all data points.

Obviously there are other ways to measure - some are intangibles like name recognition and market education. The point is to have some type of ROI component in place to measure your marketing effectiveness. Having the right tool can make this process a simple one and eliminate the pain-staking task of manually pulling your data together.

More than ever, it seems, marketing has come under the scrutiny of company CFO's who want to know where that ROI exists. They are completely justified in doing so. In the old days, marketers would often hide behind ambiguous things like 'market exposure', 'awareness campaigns', 'brand education', etc. No more. If marketing doesn't help drive revenue opportunities, the ROI is zero.

Just this week, Ginger Colon, Editor-in-Chief at 1to1 Media for the Peppers & Rogers Group, posed the question about how finance and marketing get along and on the same page for addressing money issues - and the all important bottom line.

We participated. You can see our response by visiting the 1to1 blog.

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