Nearly Half Of Aussie SMEs Plan To Reduce In-House Marketing Function

Hands over the table as a business concept

As many organisations across Australia look ahead to challenging economic conditions, new research has found that traditional senior in-house and agency marketing roles are in jeopardy.

Nearly half (47%) of the SME CEOs and business leaders surveyed are looking to remove current in-house marketing roles and instead, opt for outsourced more cost-effective alternatives, while nearly one third (30%) have shut down their entire marketing activity altogether. This piece of independent research was carried out by Sydney based ask Marketing, as part of a new industry white paper, which considers what the future will be for marketing leadership in a post-COVID-19 world.

The research interviewed 100 Australian SME business founders, owners and leaders across a broad range of industries, with both a local and global presence. The purpose of this survey was to understand their pre and post Covid-19 company working arrangements, primarily in terms of who was responsible for their marketing function, whether it was in-house or agency-led, and what the financial impact of the pandemic had been on this part of their operations.

The results have been translated into an in-depth white paper authored by ask Marketing, ‘Why business leaders are turning to Virtual Marketing Management’, which also analysed existing qualitative and quantitative research from third parties such as Gartner and NAB, to provide an insightful analysis around where the future of marketing lies. This white paper does not sell a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, as this does not exist. Rather, it introduces the new hybrid approach, Virtual Marketing Management.

The Virtual Marketing Manager (VMM) model sits between the 100% agency outsourced and 100% in-house marketing models; a new hybrid approach. By leveraging the business’s internal junior marketing resource(s), the VMM manages the marketing from within the business, as opposed to an agency who manages it from outside the business. This enables up to 70% cost savings compared with having the digital marketing manager role in house.

Further to that, in May 2020, a Deloitte Digital and Salesforce Webinar reported that customers are accessing multiple touchpoints during a purchase but there is a significant disconnect within companies. 75% of consumers expect consistent interactions across all departments. However, 58% say that they feel like they’re communicating with separate departments and not one company (Deloitte, 2020).

This is a common “missing link” and one that the VMM approach eliminates. Not only will a business have its own VMM overseeing the bigger picture strategy, but they will also have an in-house resource who works on the day-to-day execution, right where the action happens.

In the survey of SME CEOs, 85% of respondents believed that businesses will benefit from this Virtual Marketing Management approach.

Alexandra King, ask Marketing comments, “The pandemic has seen many organisations, particularly small businesses, reflect and question their marketing spend and consider where they can realistically cut costs without having a detrimental impact on their organisation’s ability to promote their products and services strategically whilst growing their brand. Virtual marketing management throws out the rule book, a new hybrid approach that aims to provide SMEs with the same level of marketing strategy and leadership as their corporate counterparts, for a fraction of the cost.”

ask Marketing was founded in 2017 by Alexandra and Stephanie King, who saw a gap in the market to deliver strategic marketing leadership to small to medium businesses in an affordable way. By leveraging the business’ internal marketing capacity, layered with the required level of strategic expertise, their team of VMMs will equip the company with the knowledge, skills, and marketing leadership to carry out the function. The company has worked with a variety of clients, primarily in the B2B sector including Energy and Carbon Solutions, The Nudge Group and Nucleus Wealth.

King continues, “We’ve seen how many organisations are still in search of a ‘unicorn marketer’ – but the pandemic has forced many organisations to rethink. We are now seeing a revolution as more business leaders embrace virtual marketing to continue to thrive in an uncertain future.”




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