Here are a few responses I’ve received over the years from owners of professional services firms when asked who takes care of their marketing and business development efforts:
“Our firm has an in-house marketing department. Why do I need to hire a marketing consultant?”
“My friend’s daughter/son/niece/nephew knows about websites and/or marketing, so he/she will be taking care of all our marketing needs.”
“I saw a commercial from XYZ company who can design my website for free!”
“We are a small firm, so I do all of the marketing myself, including putting together proposal responses, posting to Facebook, tweeting, etc.”
Why Outsource Marketing?
Here are some reasons why hiring a marketing consulting firm is advantageous to architecture, engineering, construction (A/E/C) and other professional services firms:
- Cost. Outsourcing some or all of your marketing objectives saves money. Marketing consultants are not full-time employees; therefore, companies save by not having to pay for benefits such as medical, dental, vacation and sick leave, retirement, etc. Additionally, consultants are self-employed and are responsible for paying their own taxes. Incidentally, companies that advertise that they/you can design your website for free most likely aren’t going to provide you that customer-focused service a marketing consultant can. Furthermore, many of the companies who offer free websites will have pop-up ads on your site; if you want them to not appear, you have to pay a monthly fee.
- Fresh Perspective. Hiring a marketing consultant gives you an unbiased and fresh point-of-view. Marketing consultants do not work within your organization (i.e., are not “in the bubble”) and are able to objectively analyze your firm’s overall situation. An employee may feel like he/she can not be as up front / honest as necessary due to being unsure of his/her “place” in the organization; fears of possible retribution, failure, etc. A marketing consultant can look at client data and needs, conduct research and work with you to develop a comprehensive plan to move your company in the direction it needs to go.
Expertise. While someone you know might claim to know about designing websites, if your website is in need of updating or, heaven forbid, crashes, will that person be available to assist when you need them? Will your friend’s daughter/son/niece/nephew be available when you need them in a pinch? You wouldn’t hire a website designer to design a house…you would hire an architect. A marketing consultant is an an expert in his or her craft: marketing.
- Marketing Staff are People…Not Machines. Proposal writing/RFP burn-out is a real thing…ask any marketing or proposal coordinator who has worked for the same A/E/C firm for more than 3 years. Proposal deadlines often coincide in quick succession which leads to stressed out staff, documents that are cut and pasted quickly with little time for proofreading. Having a marketing or proposal consultant as a resource during “crunch-times” gives internal marketing staff a chance to take a break and delegate some or all of the work temporarily. Finally, having someone review/proofread the final document before it goes to print is one of the most important and often overlooked (no pun intended) parts of the proposal process. A fresh set of eyes can catch glaring errors that people who have been working on a document for numerous hours can easily miss…and save the client from not only embarrassment but being eliminated from consideration due to careless errors.
- Priorities. If you are the owner of an A/E/C firm, wouldn’t you rather be spending your hours on billable work such as designing buildings or waterline systems than developing your website or putting together proposals? Working with a marketing consultant as part of your team is one of the smartest investments you can make and will allow you to focus on the priorities of running your business and doing the things you enjoy most: designing and building.