Why Professional Services firms should outsource marketing


For many New Zealand Professional Services firms, having a dedicated marketer in their firms has never been a priority. They have a Sales or Business Development Team, and use their admin staff to manage occasional ‘marketing tasks’ including social media posting, website content management and adhoc newsletters to clients.

Head of People
July 22, 2022
  (NZDT - GMT +12)

For many New Zealand Professional Services firms, having a dedicated marketer in their firms has never been a priority. They have a Sales or Business Development Team, and use their admin staff to manage occasional ‘marketing tasks’ including social media posting, website content management and adhoc newsletters to clients.

Professional Services firms may engage a graphic designer to create their annual report, update a sales proposal or create a new content for their website. They’ll also be likely to have a printer to produce cards or flyers for conferences and events they attend.

These informal relationships managed by various staff members within a firm can work well for newer firms in start up mode or firms not currently in growth mode. In our experience, when a Professional Services firm wants to place a larger priority focus on their marketing and understand the benefits of this for the growth and survival of their firm, including standing apart from their competitors, outsourced marketing is ideal to get them over this milestone. This is the time to develop and commit to their marketing strategy, setting a marketing budget, roadmap, and confirming the skill sets required to execute their marketing so they can see it pay dividends as soon as possible.

What triggers a Professional Services firm to commit to marketing?

There are a few common triggers we see amongst Professional Services firms that approach us for marketing support:

  • A new partner in the firm might necessitate a need to grow their client book,
  • A new service offering or opportunity to productise their services might indicate a need to develop more sophistication and order to their marketing efforts,
  • A competitor is stepping up their marketing efforts and winning business they would traditionally win,
  • An interest in onboarding digital tools and methods to support their firm to improve the experience of their clients AND attract new ones,
  • They’re not satisfied with their current marketing arrangement, their existing marketer is leaving or they don’t have the expertise required for a specific marketing project,
  • As Professional Service providers, they often sell ‘time’ and like to work with others providing specialist skills the same way i.e. having a more flexible marketing resource that they can dial up or down as needed,
  • They may want a more cost effective solution for their marketing requirements.

What holds a Professional Services firm back from hiring a marketer?

Committing a budget of anywhere between $70,000 - $150,000+ to gain the right skills needed, whose P&L doesn’t directly attribute an end sale, is a big commitment for many firms. In theory, good digital marketers will and should be tasked with generating new business - but how will you measure this and understand what activity can be attributed to your Sales or Business Development Team, or your marketing investment?

Some firms simply might not have enough work for a full-time employee for this role, and are struggling to identify if they need a junior, intermediate or senior marketer. Their challenge is how to know the right marketer and skill fit, that works within their budget, when they’ve not worked in their field or understand the technical competencies required?

When it comes to marketing requirements, many Professional Services firms have a wide-ranging and ever evolving brief. They could be looking to marketing to solve a myriad of questions including:

  1. Implementing a new CRM,
  2. Automating their client communications,
  3. Reinvigorating their social media presence,
  4. Creating design assets,
  5. Launching digital marketing campaigns.

Can one marketer do all these tasks?

By outsourcing their marketing function, Professional Services firms can benefit from tapping into a wide range of marketing expertise. Make no mistake, marketing is an increasingly broad discipline: strategic marketers, digital campaign specialists, UX (user experience) and CRO (conversion rate optimisation) experts, social media managers with graphic design skills, automation specialists, content writers and marketers with development skills who can support your custom website.

Why does outsourcing marketing make sense for many firms?

Many Professional Services firms we work with, often have a programme of work they need support with, and specialist expertise to efficiently develop and then execute their digital marketing and/or communications plan. They find that if marketing tasks are spread across their team it leads to compromising their brand, timelines and budget creep, and their team’s day jobs and specialties being prioritised over the marketing tasks.

Our experience is that a Professional Services firm will undoubtedly make better use of any marketing budget by engaging with a specialist marketer for their marketing management. They won’t always need a marketer with senior strategic or user experience expertise. Having the ability to change skill sets within their outsourced team for requirements including digital campaign management or content development is a much more efficient use of time and budget.

Key benefits for Professional Services firms who outsource their marketing:

  • Easy access to strategic digital marketers, intermediate digital advertising campaign managers or junior marketers to manage your social and newsletter content channels,
  • Efficient use of digital marketing spend including ongoing measurement and optimisation in real time dashboards,
  • Support for your Business Development team with a clear marketing strategy and tactical plan designed to drive inbound leads,
  • Advice on tap for best practice marketing software to support day-to-day marketing requirements (social media scheduling, email automation tools, CRM platforms),
  • Access pricey marketing software subscriptions including SEO tools, graphic design, reporting and analytics tools,
  • Ease the workload on core teams by eliminating their marketing tasks enabling them to get back to their core roles,
  • Project based fees or ongoing subscription services make a much more transparent and managed investment in marketing possible,
  • Regular reporting and analytics on all your channels and marketing activity done by those in the know, saving time and worry about lacking visibility of the ‘fruits’ of your marketing labour and investment.

What are the key concerns Professional Services firms have about outsourcing marketing?

Quality and control are the key themes we hear from firms when they first explore outsourcing marketing services. Who will be doing the work, and how can they ensure the work is being done?

“How will we know it’s working and we’re getting value from our investment?”

Top 5 common marketing outsourcing concerns

1. How will I maintain control over my marketing activity?

Absolutely. If you don’t already have a marketing strategy for your firm, our first step will be to develop one with you within the first 2-4 weeks. From your new digital marketing strategy, we can then develop a detailed marketing plan including prioritised activity and budget so you know what’s happening … and when. Your outsourced Virtual Marketers team will be looking for ‘quick wins’ to demonstrate our marketing value, as well as developing medium and long term initiatives to deliver on your marketing objectives.

A quality outsourced marketing provider, like Virtual Marketers, should work with you and your key team, to agree on a detailed scope of work (SOW) and provide regular reporting on the success and progress (or otherwise) of your marketing activity.

2. I’d prefer to work with a local marketing team

Outsourcing no longer means using offshore talent. Local marketing Professional Services firms like Virtual Marketers work with mostly Kiwi talent to service our local clients, and can often provide onsite support to clients.

With remote working commonplace these days, location doesn’t need to be a barrier. Professional Services firms should focus on finding the best fit marketer, who understands their industry and their specific firm’s needs and challenges. Virtual Marketers helps our clients identify the skills they need, and work directly with them - we become a part of your team but without the FTE hassles.

3. How will I communicate with my outsourced marketing team?

Your outsourced marketing team should communicate with your team regularly via weekly reports, messaging channels and in person should they work onsite with you. Increasingly, comms are less in inboxes, and more with online communication tools such as Teams, Slack or regular video calls. Extending access to your messaging tools to your outsourced marketing team makes your working relationships easier, and you can both be more effective in planning, communicating, approving and executing marketing tasks.

4. I’ve always thought that outsourcing my marketing would result in poor quality?

There are outsourced marketing providers who provide “bargain marketing services” by outsourcing the “execution” to offshore teams that they can pay lower hourly rates. Some may even use AI tools to deliver their services to you. Common marketing services that use this approach include content writing, social media management and Google Adwords management. Virtual Marketers don’t outsource these services offshore, because with the amazing marketing talent on our shores in NZ - why would we need to?

If you have specific tasks that you choose to outsource offshore, you’ll need someone on your team to act as quality control which can create additional work and stress.

We often get our clients to consider how a more integrated marketing approach would better meet their needs and that of their clients too.

5. How will I know if my marketing is working?

Outsourced marketers should understand the business metrics that are important to your firm, and what KPIs would make sense to measure your marketing activity on. They should clearly outline how they deliver reporting to you regularly and whether the reporting needs to fit into an existing format (say, for Board reporting requirements).

Your digital marketing efforts can all be tracked and automatically reported on, which is something you should insist on when outsourcing your marketing.

How can outsourced marketing work best?

We’ve pulled together a few examples of how we’ve delivered outsourced marketing to our clients here at Virtual Marketers. Which scenario would work best for your firm?

  1. One Day A Week Marketing Manager - Eightwire Case Study
  2. Supporting existing marketing with Digital Campaign Management - Europlan Case Study
  3. Strategic Campaign Planning and Execution - PaperKite Case Study
  4. UX Website Review & Update - Loomio Case Study
  5. Supporting inhouse Communications Manager with Social Media Management - Insurance Council of NZ Case Study

Disclaimer: this post was written by a real live human located in Wellington, New Zealand. It was not generated by an AI tool, has been reviewed by our SEO optimisation experts to ensure that we made the most out of this ‘human written’ content to generate more organic traffic to our website. We believe human content specialists are worth paying a little extra for. We hope you agree.