In-house or Outsource: What Marketing Activities Should You Pay for?

Small business owners are a frugal bunch. Even when looking at hopefully “growth” oriented activities, a recent 2013 survey by BrightLocal and the Chamber of Commerce demonstrates very conservative numbers:

  • The average spend on marketing by SMBs is $400/month.
  • 32% of SMBs are spending less than $100/month on marketing their businesses.
  • Just 6% spend more than $1,000/month.

But there is a balance between being frugal and being short-sighted.  For example, assuming you are profitable and have an established business, average marketing budgets should be 7-8% of sales. (Start-ups and new product launches require more aggressive spends.) But when do you invest in an outside professional and when do you opt for doing it yourself?

The following three-step process can help you take an honest look at where you can save – and where you should invest:

1. What is your market or industry “norm”? 

How will potential customers judge your “touchpoints”?  For example, a talented graphic design firm needs to have a high impact, visually strong website. A cement contractor just needs to provide credentials and contact information. What is the job to be done and what image or message so you wish to convey?

2. Assess your in-house skills and available time.

For the following skill sets would you rate yourself (and any employees) as expert, competent or weak? Do you have the time to consistently execute the project? Will the result meet the norms decided in step 1?

  • Writing
  • Data Analysis / Analytics
  • Design
  • Building Connections / Relationships
  • Organization / Attention to Detail
  • Strategic Thinking / Planning
  • Finance / Budgets

3. Map your Skills/Time.

The grid below illustrates the skills required for various marketing tactics. In addition, the time column indicates whether success depends on a one-time project or on regular and consistent follow through. For each marketing tactic, honestly look at whether you have the skills, and the time. This will help you decide on where you need to get some outside help. For more of Jeanne's project management tips, register for her upcoming live webinars, "Hiring and Managing Marketing Contractors: Smart Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Budget & Time" presented on 5/28, 5/29 and 5/31. Register now!

Jeanne Rossomme
<p> Jeanne uses her 20 years of marketing know-how to help small business owners reach their goals. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she held a variety of marketing positions with DuPont and General Electric. Jeanne regularly hosts online webinars and workshops in both English and Spanish.<br /> <a href="" style="line-height: 1.385em;" target="_blank"></a><span style="line-height: 1.385em;"> | </span><a href="" style="line-height: 1.385em;" target="_blank">@roadmapmarketin</a><span style="line-height: 1.385em;"> | </span><a href="/author/jeanne-rossomme/all-posts" style="line-height: 1.385em;" target="_blank">More from Jeanne</a></p>


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