Industrial marketing requires a lot of time and expertise. If you don’t quite have either, you’re not alone. Many manufacturing companies don’t have in-house marketing departments, and those that do often have limited budgets and personnel.
So if you're beginning your first industrial marketing plan, how do you go about it — train current employees, seek out freelancers, or hire an agency? Let's look at the pros and cons of each.
Training Your Industrial Staff to Help With Marketing
There’s nothing inherently wrong with hiring staff members who require training to get the job done, especially with a ton of free training resources available online.
- Job Growth: It's no secret that employees want the opportunity to learn and grow, and this could be a route that's beneficial for your rockstar performers and your company.
- Low Cost: There are thousands of blog posts, eBooks, and courses for digital marketing available online.
- Time Investment: One of the major drawbacks in doing so is that training takes time — time that you might not have if you need to get in front of buyers ASAP.
- Expertise Level: While an employee can work to pick up a few tricks through training (and trial and error), your business really needs a well-rounded marketer with experience in search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing, writing, editing, and pay-per-click.
If you have go-getters who are eager to learn and have a basic understanding of writing and marketing, it's worth them taking the time to beef up their skillset. Even if you end up bringing on freelance help or an agency, it's great to have someone in-house with a working understanding of digital marketing and how it can help your business grow.
Outsourcing to Freelancers
A freelancer is an independent employee, or a person with a particular area of expertise, such as writing, designing, or performing, who works on their own schedule and takes on projects they select from a variety of clients. There are several pros and cons to hiring a freelancer for your industrial marketing needs.
- Contract Hire: Hiring a freelancer is a fantastic way to bring specialized marketing knowledge into your company without agreeing to a long-term commitment. You get the expertise you need without bringing on a full-time marketing staff.
- Rate Negotiation: Freelancers set their own rates, which can sometimes be flexible and tailored to your specific tasks on a project-by-project basis.
- Highly-Skilled: The best freelancers are successful because they are extremely talented at what they do and have experience working on a diverse range of projects for clients in different fields or industries.
- Sole-entities: Freelancers are one-person shops; if they get sick or take on other jobs with other clients, you and your project may take a backseat.
- Scalability: Because freelancers work alone, you can’t scale freelancers. You can hire additional freelancers, but if you work with multiple freelancers, they often have different processes, prices, and methodologies. This lack of consistency can make it difficult to grow smoothly.
- Niche Experience: Finding freelancers with manufacturing and industrial experience along with the tactical expertise you need can be difficult.
When to Work With Freelancers and Where to Look For Them
Freelancers are perfect for smaller projects requiring a particular skillset for your creative marketing needs. Additionally, allowing for rate negotiation means hiring a freelancer may be more appropriate when you have a minimal budget. When you don't have the designated staff or time to write a blog, an eBook, or to create a video, hiring a freelancer can get the job done for you. Freelancers can be hired for just about anything and will save you the effort and headache from figuring it out on your own.
There are many platforms where you can hire writers with the technical skillset of a tier one marketing professional or even a strong background in engineering. Here are some of our favorite freelance platforms — a couple of these we've even used for our industrial content marketing needs:
Upwork for Content and Design
Upwork gives the best overall ability to see which freelancers are best and most qualified for your job. Because it's easy to use, it's a great option for small businesses and manufacturers just starting out with their marketing plans. We've outsourced some of our blogs and eBook designs to Upwork freelancers. The platform charges a 2.75% transaction fee on each invoice, which is actually a lot lower than other freelance websites, but pricing is flexible — you can either pay by the hour or per project. What we love about Upwork is that it matches our project with a list of freelancers who specialize in that particular field of work based on the projects they've already completed.
Fiverr Outsourcing Starting at Five Dollars
Fiverr is another popular website that gives you access to a surplus of freelancer writers to hire — starting at $5 per project with options to upgrade depending on your marketing needs. Fiverr makes hiring a breeze. If the job description is clear and the freelancer's profile is reputable, you can have a new hire in a matter of minutes. One major difference between Fiverr and Upwork is that on Fiverr, companies purchase projects already pre-defined by the freelancers. You purchase from a list of services rather than you posting your job for freelancers. While you can search through dozens of categories like "Marketing Strategy" and "eBook Writing," keep in mind you still have to sift through your potential matches and vet if they have any industry experience.
VoiceBunny for Video Marketing Voice Overs
A voice over is a production technique in videos where you are using a person's voice without seeing the actual person. VoiceBunny has provided us with fast turnaround and great quality voice overs. You are given three options to choose from depending on how much involvement you want to have in choosing the right voice for your video and how flexible you are with your deadline. Pricing starts out at $35 and are priced based on the length of the script. They also provide additional services like adding the recording to your video. What we love about VoiceBunny is that we received our voiceover the same day (their average turnaround time is 6 hours!) without sacrificing quality.
Hiring a Marketing Agency
When your budget allows, working with a manufacturing marketing agency typically provides a much broader range of resources to create a more robust marketing solution while saving you time and reducing project management stress.
- Multiple Resources: Marketing agencies have dedicated experts in various areas including web design, content writing, social media, or email campaigns.
- Scalability: An agency becomes a “one-stop-shop” for all your marketing needs, allowing you to implement a full-scale, strategic industrial marketing program.
- Accountability: An agency builds success through a quality reputation and satisfactory performance with their clients.
- Proven Processes: As a professional firm, agencies will typically have processes in place to provide a consistent experience through time-tested methods.
- Cost: Unlike hiring a freelancer, who is typically self-employed or a sole proprietor, an agency tends to be more expensive due to overhead expenses and salaries.
- Niche Specialties: As with freelancers, finding agencies specific to industrial manufacturing may be difficult. You'll want to partner with an marketing agency that can understand your business — and your buyers' journey — to ensure the strategies and manufacturing content they are implementing are most effective to generate leads.
When to Work With a Marketing Agency
Typically, manufacturers should turn to a professional marketing agency for large-scale projects, such as a website redesign, or to meet ongoing, long-term lead-generation goals. Also, managing multiple freelancers can take time and resources, so consider an industrial marketing agency when your marketing needs outgrow your staff’s ability to handle numerous freelancers effectively. If you've tried creating marketing content in-house, hired freelancers, but you still aren't seeing the results or ROI you hoped for, it may be time to outsource. Finally, look to an agency when you need a partner who can quickly grow with your business, adding new capabilities and strategies as trends and goals change. And remember to ask them the right questions to help you zero in on the right marketing partner for you.
If you are in need of outsourcing your industrial marketing needs, the team at Thomas Marketing Services can help. When deciding who you should outsource to, it's important to consider a partner that can help you with more than one of your marketing needs. For example, are they able to provide support for your website and email campaigns — you'll want to ensure your brand messaging on all platforms is aligned. We've launched campaigns for tens of thousands of industrial clients — and helped them increase sales. We understand how confusing all the components of a successful marketing strategy can be. Get in touch with our team today to take your content marketing to the next level and generate leads.
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