The Secret to Staying Current: Outsourcing Marketing Skills

Amid the digital frenzy, the quest for top-tier marketing skills intensifies. The dilemma: invest time and resources to upskill in-house teams or leverage external expertise? Unveiling the challenges of in-house training—resource constraints, information overload, and resistance to change—the transformative power of outsourced marketing is not just a smart move but may be the strategic choice for survival.

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In today’s cutthroat digital battleground, where the pace of change can make your head spin, the demand for top-notch marketing skills is more crucial than ever. Marketing isn’t just about creating catchy slogans or flashy billboards; it’s an evolving digital race where dawdlers are left behind.

E-Consultancy has released a detailed white paper highlighting the urgent need for digital skills, with their research showing:

  • 57% of senior staff state they need to add new skills and knowledge at least monthly.
  • Over half of enterprise organisations say that a shortage of digital talent has led to a loss of competitive advantage.
  • 92% of senior executives say their strategies require skills new to the business.
  • A lack of digital, marketing, and e-commerce skills ranks as a top-three challenge to improving customer experience.

Building a world-class, digitally adept team from scratch remains beyond the reach of most businesses. So, how should organisations and individuals approach the learning and development of digital skills? Should they spend precious time and resources upskilling an in-house marketing team, or is it smarter to tap into the expertise of external partners?

While we agree with E-Consultancy’s findings demonstrating the growing need for digital skills and the shortage of digital talent, we do differ from the view of how to solve this problem best for most businesses – but what else would you expect from an agency known for its bold views?

However, we aren’t just bold; we are analytical and back our theories with considered thought. For example, 40% of the respondents in E-Consultancy’s findings represent companies with revenues exceeding £150 million. They claim that the results encompass “all sizes,” but state later in the report: ‘Many companies lack the scale or resources for a formal L&D function”, effectively hindering effective in-house training, especially for smaller businesses.

This means for most businesses, outsourcing strategic marketing and digital expertise isn’t just a smart move—it’s the key to survival.

The Problems Businesses Face
(I Got 99 Problems and InHouse Marketing is One)

Apart from the lack of learning and development structures in most organisations to train an in-house marketing team to upskill effectively, there are several reasons to question insourcing vs hiring expertise in.

Lack of Resources

Regardless of their size, businesses often find themselves shackled by limited resources. Training employees, staying on top of rapidly evolving technologies, and conducting in-depth market research all demand significant investment in time and budget. Econsultancy’s Skills Taxonomy identifies almost 1,400 skills categories across digital marketing, e-commerce, and customer experience management- a Herculean task to try and capture in-house.

TMI (Too Much Information)

Even with a team in place, they must be capable of digesting the volumes of digital and other information. Trying to navigate all the available content and data without drowning in overload is challenging.

Resistance to Change

Have you ever tried to get your team to embrace a new way of doing things? Many organisations face resistance from their own ranks, as employees cling to familiar processes and resist adopting new technologies or methodologies. The report found a transformation failure rate of anywhere from 35% to 85%.

External Pressures

The relentless need to keep up with customers, competitors, and market shifts adds daily stress. This pressure often leads to knee-jerk reactions, chasing trends without understanding long-term implications and sticking with the status quo. Training programs and time for upskilling take a back seat – several rows back.

Lack of Expertise

Finding and retaining professionals with the right skills is challenging in today’s hyper-competitive talent market. Even when you manage to attract the right talent, they often lack the mindset, know-how, and resources to deliver expertise across all facets of the widening skill base now required of marketers. Take then the size and complexity of the HR initiative required to drive an authentic learning culture within the organisation, and it starts to feel like a mammoth and expensive task.

Blind Spots

You don’t know what you don’t know. Many businesses are blissfully unaware of critical knowledge gaps within their organisation, leading to complacency and a false sense of security. What frameworks and initiatives should the organisation employ to “discover” these then have the where-with-all to implement impactful change?

The Best Solution for Performance Driven Businesses

We believe that the best strategy to gain the digital marketing skills necessary to compete is outsourcing.  Let’s run through why outsourcing is a game-changer.

Immediate Access to Expertise With Support

You’re plugging into a network of top-tier professionals when you partner with qualified external consultants, experts, advisors, or agencies. They bring fresh perspectives, in-depth knowledge, and battle-tested experience to your marketing strategies. External partners provide expertise, frameworks, and tools to bring your team up to speed quickly, often at no additional cost.

Performance-Based Engagement

Expert agencies are driven by one thing—results. Their incentives are aligned with your success, which means they’re continually adapting and innovating to deliver value.

Agility and Adaptability

External partners are agile by nature. They’re masters at navigating the ever-changing landscape of social, marketing, and technological shifts, keeping your organisation sharp and responsive.  The report states, “No market is stable, no technology is static, and no discipline is stagnant.”

Macro trends are decreasing the shelf life of specialist skills and are challenging individuals and organisations to play catch-up; expert agencies are adept at staying at the forefront of new skills.

The Key to Success

In this digital era, the need for digital skills is undeniable, and the stakes are higher than ever. It’s not just about the speed of acquiring these skills; it’s also about acknowledging that consumers are revolutionising their purchasing habits and expectations. This digital transformation isn’t just a choice; it’s an imperative.

The technology shaping business today demands agility and innovation. To gain a competitive edge and thrive, businesses must evolve rapidly, and outsourcing digital and marketing skills is the strategic move that propels them forward, harnessing expert knowledge. While upskilling your internal team may be an option you consider, outsourcing strategic marketing and digital expertise is the pragmatic choice for many businesses, especially those in the competitive stage of marketing maturity.

Partnering with external experts provides immediate access to top-notch talent, frameworks, and performance-driven strategies. It equips your organisation to not just survive but thrive in a competitive digital landscape, where adaptation and innovation are the keys to success.

Outsourcing isn’t just a smart move—it’s the bold step that can propel your business to new heights.

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About the Author

Tina Robertson

Tina Robertson’s entrepreneurial career spanning 28 years is marked by the establishment of successful ventures in internet technologies, digital marketing, and marketing strategy. Her expertise encompasses all facets of marketing, brand and digital strategy, performance marketing, digital execution, and effective marketing management. With a deep commitment to best practices and a scientific approach to business and brand growth, Tina's proven 'right approach' to marketing has played a pivotal role in driving tangible growth for numerous businesses across diverse industries.