Nowadays, just about any marketing or communications department looks something like the chart pictured here.
Some of the titles may get swapped around or the term marketing gets swapped out for communications if you’re a nonprofit, but the marketing department structure itself is pretty much the same.
The boxes at the bottom can be a whole lot of things depending on your model and organization’s mission. Maybe they represent social media, blogging, and print advertising, for example.
Or, each box might even represent a single social media vehicle like Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. More and more, managing a single one of these channels is a full-time job (or should be) for many organizations. The job requirement depends on your mission and outreach strategies.
But, get ready for the big takeaway from this blog post. Many already know this, but a surprisingly large number of organizations don’t:
Every one of those boxes can be contracted out. And, the farther you get way from the top box, you probably should contract out those roles. In fact, you can – and possibly should – contract out the whole department.
Think about that for a moment. There are a number of reasons that management will immediately claim to challenge this. I’ve heard them. I’ve lived them. Still don’t believe? Please, read on.
Marketing Was Once More Passive
Twenty years ago, marketing was – by the very nature of the mediums available – much more passive. You had advertising and print campaigns, which you could have an ad agency manage of course. But, results and metrics were fuzzy. They took a while to receive and digest.
Maybe you were putting together a direct mailer. Same thing. A phone campaign would be more engaging, but again, results and feedback are slow. You might put a trade show booth together, and while this too would be less one-way, it made sense to manage much of the preparation and staffing in-house.
Regardless, all of these are mostly static tactics that are managed well and executed upon within the kind of hierarchy we see in our chart here.
More importantly, “best practices” weren’t changing much in the foreseeable future.
Marketing Is Now Much More Dynamic
The speed with which a message can be constructed, distributed, evaluated, tested, improved upon (and repeat) is much faster now: Hours in many cases and even minutes in some.
In short, for communications and marketing departments, the landscape, mediums, and tools have changed dramatically – even over the last five years. But, organizational structure and procedures have not.
And, if you’re a small business or nonprofit, all the added “convenience” of smartphones and social media have only resulted in more items on your to-do list . . . or even worse, your wish list.
For many, “in-house” is no longer getting results. And, the returns will in most cases diminish over time.
The Biggest Problem With “In-House” Is Stagnation
Organizations by their very nature aren’t often great at innovation and evolution. They are good at deliberation and staff retention. And, the bigger they are, the better they get at these things. This inevitably leads to stagnation. I have watched this happen firsthand. You can see this for yourself in many of the dinosaur companies that still walk among us.
Experience in widget making or widget maintenance is good. Broad, seasoned personal networks built over time are good. But, the search for new ways to capture new eyes, ears, hearts, and minds requires something different. It requires new insights and a view from the outside.
The agile and the flexible will not only keep up, they will grow and dominate.