For any business reaching out for B2B marketing advice and support there are many potential solutions. Clearly, whatever option is chosen has to deliver on the business development objectives and the supplier must be credible and effective. Beyond that the choice is largely influenced by personal preference and the financial resources available. This article explores the options available.
The four main possibilities are the full in house option, a part in house option with the rest outsourced and managed in house, mentoring, coaching or outsourcing the full marketing process. Each option has good and bad points and some are relevant only to certain businesses and / or individuals.
A marketing mentor transfers relevant knowledge, skills and expertise to their client so the client can learn to perform the task themselves without the need for further support. Mentors do not tell their clients what to do; they simply guide them down a path to success.
A key skill for any mentor is listening and questioning to get to the root of their clients issues. Mentors tend to be highly experienced and well qualified in their business discipline. They tend to be well networked so that may point their clients in the direction of appropriate suppliers and partners to assist the business development process.
Coaching is similar to mentoring but it tends to focus more on the individual (being coached) and their personal issues more than the organisations issues. Coaching focuses on improving a person’s performance and developing or enhancing an individual’s skills. The skill set for a coach is similar to a mentor although they are less likely to be expert in a particular discipline.
When using an outsourced B2B marketing company the emphasis is not on learning and the process it is simply on delivery against a defined business growth and development objective. Assuming the specification is correct then B2B marketing agencies generally deliver the required outcome with minimal reference back to the client.
The final option is the do it yourself option where there is no physical marketing advice and support the required information is simply sourced online and implemented in house. There is a mass of free marketing advice online, some good, some bad and some just plain wrong. The difficulty is in finding good quality information which is current.
There are many sources (some paid for and some not) including education material from the professional bodies like the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Blogs and online education websites each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Often various pieces of information need to be stitched together to give an overall understanding before implementation.
Which of the above is the best option very much depends on what a business is looking for and the funds available. If a business simply wants the marketing task performed while they get on with operational and delivery issues then an outsourced marketing agency is best. However, this approach will leave little training or education behind when completed which means outsourcing again when the next task arises.
Both coaching and mentoring will leave behind skills in the business which can be utilised and improved upon over the medium to long term. A coach or mentor will not do the work for the business so it may still be necessary to bring in some outsourced suppliers which can make the overall process more expensive. The decision between coaching and mentoring must be made at a personal level based on what the individual business owner or mentee is looking for.
The in house, do it yourself approach is by far the cheapest and the medium to long term legacy is obvious, however, it is also the most risky and time consuming. It requires ongoing commitment as an ad hoc approach simply will not work. Finding the right educational resources and stitching those resources together to understand the whole is a major issue.
The choice then depends on funds available, the needs of both the individual and the business, the requirements of the B2B market in which the business operates and the required outcome of the marketing advice and support process.