For any business considering sources of B2B marketing advice and support, there are two main options. They are outsourcing and mentoring/coaching.
Whatever option is chosen the supplier must be credible and effective. Beyond that, the choice is largely influenced by personal preference and the financial and human resources available to the business.
Marketing Support Costs – An Overview
To take the Mentor/Coach route some existing personnel must be in place. This could be an individual or a team.
The total cost of the mentor/coach option is the cost of in house personnel plus the mentoring/coaching service plus whatever external marketing services are required while the internal team (or individual) gets up to speed.
The total cost of the outsourced approach includes the cost of the outsourced agency, the cost of any internal services deployed in support and the cost of the internal person (or in some cases team) who will be the contact and interface point between the business and the agency. There are usually some costs involved in setup that may include strategy and planning meetings.
It should not be assumed an outsourced marketing department can simply be left to get on with the job in hand. They will undoubtedly need to call on company resources for content and guidance on specific products or services.
Most businesses will have built a vast range of knowledge over the years on products, services, technology, competition and markets that an outsourced agency simply will not have.
The Marketing Mentor & Coach
Coaching and mentoring have been grouped together for convenience but there are differences.
A marketing mentor transfers relevant knowledge, skills and expertise to their client so the client can learn to perform the task themselves without the need for further support. Mentors usually have many years of relevant experience in one (perhaps two) business disciplines, they are not generalists.
Coaching is similar to mentoring but it tends to focus on the individual (being coached) and their personal issues more than the organisation’s issues. Coaching focuses on improving a person’s performance and developing or enhancing an individual’s skills.
The skillset for a coach is similar to a mentor although they are less likely to be expert in a particular discipline.
Both coaching and mentoring will leave behind skills in the business which can be utilised and improved upon over the medium to long term.
A coach or mentor will not do the work for the business so it may still be necessary to bring in some outsourced suppliers which can make the overall process more expensive.
Outsourced B2B Marketing Agency
An outsourced B2B marketing agency provides B2B marketing advice but also implements in full leaving the client to get on with their business.
In general, an external marketing agency will assume the client has a clear goal in mind whereas part of a mentor’s role may be to draw out clients true objectives.
Given a clear goal and brief an external marketing teams task is to deliver on agreed objectives. They are generally employed on a medium term contract, often more than six months. When they leave they take their skills with them. They leave no legacy of trained staff behind.
The two main issues with marketing agencies are their expertise and the charging model. Many have a set hourly fee regardless of the task. Hence a business can be charged a significant fee for a relatively simple task.
Outsourced marketing agencies tend to employ an experienced head of department supported by staff with little experience. It is important to understand who is actually doing the work and the level of supervision/sign off.
Agencies also often employ account managers. The value.they add to the business is debatable.
Ultimately, the choice between mentoring and outsourced marketing tends to be based on the time available to complete the task and the legacy required (if any). Personal preference on how B2B marketing advice and support should be delivered also plays a part.