B2B Marketing: When to Hire vs. Outsource [INFOGRAPHIC]

Animated businessman scratching his head asking: hire or outsource? that is the questionSome may think I’m biased on this topic since I’m a freelancer, but I spent most of my career as a corporate employee where this question often came up. Having been on both sides, I’m comfortable conveying some unbiased tips.

When someone asks me, “How do I know what/when to outsource vs. hire for the marketing workload?”, I suggest first asking:

“What type of marketing help do I need?”

Some of your answers may include someone to help:

  1. Figure out or refresh my brand strategy, unique value proposition, and message.
  2. Get me into the 21st century with the latest B2B best practices such as content marketing, lead nurturing, and marketing automation.
  3. Rethink my marketing organizational structure through the lens of data, technology, and marketing operations.
  4. Align the marketing and sales functions toward a common goal.

Until you’re sure of the type of help you need, it’s difficult to know when you should outsource vs. hire. Below are some commonly used cases for outsourcing that may resonate with your situation, along with some different options to consider.

Brand Strategy and Messaging

Some leaders have a well-defined marketing strategy but are unable (or are too close to the business), to develop a brand strategy and messaging framework that map to customer insights and behavior.

  • Consider using a brand strategist who can drive a well-oiled process that is proven to get you what you need. Once done, the resulting framework can be handed off to various departments in the organization to implement and manage.
  • Another option is to use an employed marketing strategist who can drive the process, then outsource various details of strategic planning such as research, customer focus groups, executive roundtables, and data analysis.

Sales and Marketing Integration

B2Bs must focus on ways to better integrate marketing and sales functions, given the impact of the Internet in helping potential buyers with their research and educational process.

Because of this dynamic, marketing communications now play a bigger role in helping companies to get found online and to support the sales team’s lead nurturing efforts.

  • There are many consulting firms that specialize in helping companies align their marketing and sales (as well as technology) functions to the B2B buyer’s experience and towards data-driven activities.
  • Some hire consultants to help with gap analysis and strategic planning to determine the level of integration and alignment needed to meet business goals.
  • A consultant who specializes in sales/marketing alignment can also offer training and internal workshops to help everyone see the value in this new paradigm and learn best practices.

Digital Marketing, Data and Operations

Data, technology, and marketing operations play a larger role for many B2B companies to attract and nurture leads. This may inform a different organizational structure that supports a data- and technology-driven strategy.

  • A consultant can be helpful if this is new territory – there are many experts who can offer general advice to get you on the right track or help you redesign your organizational structure and roadmap.
  • Once done, you may need to invest in permanent worker bees and specialists for the tactical and technical day-to-day. And…
  • Since investment in highly skilled specialists is critical to effectively manage online marketing, data, and marketing operations – you may find you can limit your higher-level management team to a single person who oversees and supports that team’s workload.

Content Marketing

How much of a role does or should content play in driving business outcomes? Is it becoming harder to produce the right level of content to increase web traffic and support the sales team? How compelling and interesting is your content? 

These things may be on your mind given that content can be an important tool to engage buyers throughout their journey (which in B2B is rarely linear). But to do it right is a lot of work, and requires varying levels of competency and skill.

  • You may consider using internal staff to develop a content strategy and topic ideas, and provide subject matter expertise on a potential story or technical aspect, while also…
  • Using outsourced partners to come up with creative ideas for design, production, and delivery (e.g., videos, Infographics, eBooks, etc.) within campaigns.
  • Another option is to outsource the planning process to an expert to ensure you have the smartest content strategy possible. Then, use internal staff to integrate critical content marketing tools and manage the development and execution (with incremental support from creative agencies).

These suggestions above are just examples and much depends on your company’s size, budgets, and goals. I hope they provide food for thought and some ideas for what to think through in the digital age.

Updated Sept 2022

Download this Infographic summary of B2B marketing outsourcing considerations.


By : Lydia Vogtner

Lydia Vogtner is an independent B2B marketing and communications consultant specializing in brand, messaging and content strategy.

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