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10 marketing functions that brands should keep in-house



10 marketing functions that brands should keep in-house

(Image credit: fauxels / Pexels)

As a lifelong agency guy, I have a profound bias about what activities and marketing disciplines are best outsourced. While it may seem surprising, it’s not that I believe that brands should outsource all marketing. That said, I do have a strong opinion regarding how best to leverage marketing agencies and consultants, as outlined in the following article.

Let’s cut to the chase. The ideal use of an agency (or consultant) is for strategic planning and often, the setup and launch of marketing campaigns or programs. Ongoing management can be cost-effective when done in-house – if you can recruit, manage, develop and retain top talent. Just run the numbers on cost vs. performance/benefit. You will need to know a good deal about your goals, your team’s strengths and available tools and resources to effectively map out a plan. 

Due to the complexity of these calculations, most companies feel it is easier and less risky to outsource much of their marketing efforts. Regardless of your ability to plan and execute building an in-house team, I’ve outlined the core marketing channels and disciplines, how effective in-house teams can be, and the relative difficulty of assembling a team in each case. For each channel, I’ll assess the degree of difficulty of gathering and retaining an effective team on a scale of zero to five, with zero being easiest and five being most difficult. Please keep my bias and your own limitations in mind as you read the following marketing channels. 

Public relations

My marketing career began in public relations at a full-service, Seattle-based agency in the mid-1990s. I was drawn to the complex and challenging nature of persuading editors and analysts to cover my clients. In my next PR position, I learned that a poorly managed agency team could chew up client budget like you wouldn’t believe. 

I realized that most clients pay a premium for junior talent focusing on grunt work, with little oversight by the senior management team. The internet has flattened the playing field over the past 20 years, allowing anyone to quickly identify and contact editors and analysts. I realized early in my career that PR firms would become obsolete. While that has not exactly happened, I still believe PR should be managed in-house, as the relationships should be developed and owned by key company executives. A talented and seasoned in-house lead with a deep rolodex and a supporting junior team can better connect the company’s voice and generate coverage than many PR firms. Much of the heavy lifting in PR can be done by a junior-level account person in-house (for a fraction of the cost of an agency), and recent graduates provide a deep talent pool to pull from. 

Degree of difficulty: 3

Email and print direct response

Like PR technology trends, direct response has evolved significantly over the last 20 years. What used to be cost-prohibitive database platforms and printing presses are now affordable to the masses, allowing even the smallest companies to develop, manage and measure print and electronic direct response campaigns effectively. Email platforms like ExactTarget are affordable and highly robust, allowing contact databases to be contacted via personalized messaging. The next step after direct response is sales and marketing automation, which is also ideally managed in-house. 

Degree of difficulty: 2

Sales and marketing automation

Now that the tools are highly affordable and easy-to-use, it makes sense to ensure your core sales and marketing efforts are managed in-house. This is such a mission-critical element of your business that it doesn’t make sense to outsource lead capture and nurturing efforts.

As leads are captured via direct response campaigns and other channels, they can be moved into sales and marketing automation programs, which can be easily managed in-house. Platforms like HubSpot and Act-On are very affordable and allow companies of any size to qualify and nurture leads before handing them over to the sales team. The ability to rapidly create messaging and measure effectiveness is quite powerful. 

Degree of difficulty: 4

Social media

Social media is a big ball of wax that is constantly changing shape. The most common complaints from brands are effective measurement, planning of a comprehensive social media strategy and allocating resources. While agencies that specialize in social media can readily guide companies through these challenges, competent companies should be able to wade through available resources online to develop their own program.

Most importantly, employees should be the authentic brand voice, rather than someone from outside the company. Since this is often difficult, there will always be a place for agencies to support brands lacking the resources to create content, engage in conversation and measure overall effectiveness. 

Degree of difficulty: 3

Event marketing

Creating a meaningful presence at industry trade shows and conferences is still an effective sales and marketing strategy. While a full-blown event marketing team may include designers, production artists, project managers and a marketing support team, these resources are easy to find in the market. That means assembling an effective in-house team is a real possibility, but there are significant costs associated with event marketing that require a dedicated budget. Logistics also can be complicated. Therefore, it is essential to assemble an experienced team.

On a positive front, much of the heavy lifting can be done by a junior team, which can dramatically cut costs. 

Degree of difficulty: 2

Mobile/web design/development

Unless you are in the development or publishing industries where you are dependent on interactive talent to move your business forward, it doesn’t usually make sense to have a deeper talent-base in-house. It does make sense, however, to have one or two junior interactive designer/developer types that can manage and evolve a presence created by an outside agency. When it comes to mobile application development, this approach is more amplified. Like web development, it rarely makes sense to have a resolute mobile team, unless it is core to the business. A talented developer can help maintain a mobile or web-based application more cost-effectively than the firm that typically creates it. 

Degree of difficulty: 3

Search engine optimization

I’m the first to admit search engine optimization is not rocket science. This does not detract from the reality that very few people spend the time to understand SEO at a strategic and tactical level. That means it is exceedingly challenging to recruit and retain quality SEO talent for an in-house team.

I can speak from experience from an agency perspective: in-house SEO professionals are easy recruits, as they are often bored, alone and largely ignored by corporate marketing. Being surrounded by like-minds where clients are much more likely to value your opinion and experience is an enticing offer an agency can provide. Unless your company has Google-like benefits, you may be challenged to hold an SEO team together. 

Degree of difficulty: 4

Analytics and measurement

While it makes sense to manage the data you create and own, there are many factors that influence how to best leverage data to create actionable insights. For larger organizations or ones that create copious amounts of data, having a second set of experienced eyes can be invaluable. Big data, attribution modeling, predictive analytics, cross-device and trans-media tracking and lifetime customer value are all challenging components of measurement.

If you can attract and retain data wonks in-house that understand these evolving measurement techniques and challenges, however, break out the Champagne. 

Degree of difficulty: 5

Advertising creative/copywriting

It is exceedingly rare to be able to build an in-house creative team that is sufficiently talented to produce consistently fresh, relevant and memorable work, and stay engaged and inspired over an extended period. Agencies provide high value in this area, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. 

Unless your business is creatively focused or brand-centric, it is unlikely an internal team will be up for the challenge of developing truly remarkable work. That said, it makes a good deal of sense to keep a team of junior designers and copywriters busy with internal work, and to help update and evolve creative provided by agencies. 

Degree of difficulty: 3

Paid media/planning

Once the creative team puts together the award-winning advertising, it is essential to ensure the intended audience sees it. In the days of “Mad Men,” it wasn’t uncommon that the media planner was the most powerful person in the agency, as this person owned the relationships with the few large media outlets of the day.

That is no longer how business is done, as there are far too many channels to manage. Relationships are less important as tools and vendors streamline media buying, from programmatic to real-time bidding. Brands will have to wait for the technology and marketplace to catch up in affordability before an in-house team makes any sense. Even in the world of paid search, bid management tools can be cost-prohibitive to smaller companies. 

Another factor to consider is that media outlets still prefer to partner with savvy agencies, and still offer agency discount rates that companies cannot receive. Unless media buying is core to your business, it may be years before building an in-house team makes any sense. 

Degree of difficulty: 3


Whether you already have an in-house team, are committed to building one or will continue to rely on outside vendors, I hope the above summary has shed some light for future planning. 


Kent Lewis is founder pdxMindShare, an online career community and networking group and a digital marketing thought leader since 1996.

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12 Proven Methods to Make Money Blogging in 2024



Make money blogging


Make money bloggingThis is a contributed article.

The world of blogging continues to thrive in 2024, offering a compelling avenue for creative minds to share their knowledge, build an audience, and even turn their passion into profit. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or just starting, there are numerous effective strategies to monetize your blog and achieve financial success. Here, we delve into 12 proven methods to make money blogging in 2024:

1. Embrace Niche Expertise:

Standing out in the vast blogosphere requires focus. Carving a niche allows you to cater to a specific audience with targeted content. This not only builds a loyal following but also positions you as an authority in your chosen field. Whether it’s gardening techniques, travel hacking tips, or the intricacies of cryptocurrency, delve deep into a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Targeted audiences are more receptive to monetization efforts, making them ideal for success.

2. Content is King (and Queen):

High-quality content remains the cornerstone of any successful blog. In 2024, readers crave informative, engaging, and well-written content that solves their problems, answers their questions, or entertains them. Invest time in crafting valuable blog posts, articles, or videos that resonate with your target audience.

  • Focus on evergreen content: Create content that remains relevant for a long time, attracting consistent traffic and boosting your earning potential.
  • Incorporate multimedia: Spice up your content with captivating images, infographics, or even videos to enhance reader engagement and improve SEO.
  • Maintain consistency: Develop a regular publishing schedule to build anticipation and keep your audience coming back for more.

3. The Power of SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures your blog ranks high in search engine results for relevant keywords. This increases organic traffic, the lifeblood of any monetization strategy.

  • Keyword research: Use keyword research tools to identify terms your target audience searches for. Strategically incorporate these keywords into your content naturally.
  • Technical SEO: Optimize your blog’s loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall technical aspects to improve search engine ranking.
  • Backlink building: Encourage other websites to link back to your content, boosting your blog’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

4. Monetization Magic: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products or services. When a reader clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you get a commission.

  • Choose relevant affiliates: Promote products or services that align with your niche and resonate with your audience.
  • Transparency is key: Disclose your affiliate relationships clearly to your readers and build trust.
  • Integrate strategically: Don’t just bombard readers with links. Weave affiliate promotions naturally into your content, highlighting the value proposition.

5. Display Advertising: A Classic Approach

Display advertising involves placing banner ads, text ads, or other visual elements on your blog. When a reader clicks on an ad, you earn revenue.

  • Choose reputable ad networks: Partner with established ad networks that offer competitive rates and relevant ads for your audience.
  • Strategic ad placement: Place ads thoughtfully, avoiding an overwhelming experience for readers.
  • Track your performance: Monitor ad clicks and conversions to measure the effectiveness of your ad placements and optimize for better results.

6. Offer Premium Content:

Providing exclusive, in-depth content behind a paywall can generate additional income. This could be premium blog posts, ebooks, online courses, or webinars.

  • Deliver exceptional value: Ensure your premium content offers significant value that justifies the price tag.
  • Multiple pricing options: Consider offering tiered subscription plans to cater to different audience needs and budgets.
  • Promote effectively: Highlight the benefits of your premium content and encourage readers to subscribe.

7. Coaching and Consulting:

Leverage your expertise by offering coaching or consulting services related to your niche. Readers who find your content valuable may be interested in personalized guidance.

  • Position yourself as an expert: Showcase your qualifications, experience, and client testimonials to build trust and establish your credibility.
  • Offer free consultations: Provide a limited free consultation to potential clients, allowing them to experience your expertise firsthand.
  • Develop clear packages: Outline different coaching or consulting packages with varying time commitments and pricing structures.

8. The Power of Community: Online Events and Webinars

Host online events or webinars related to your niche. These events offer valuable content while also providing an opportunity to promote other monetization avenues.

  • Interactive and engaging: Structure your online events to be interactive with polls, Q&A sessions, or live chats. Click here to learn more about image marketing with Q&A sessions and live chats.

9. Embrace the Power of Email Marketing:

Building an email list allows you to foster stronger relationships with your audience and promote your content and offerings directly.

  • Offer valuable incentives: Encourage readers to subscribe by offering exclusive content, discounts, or early access to new products.
  • Segmentation is key: Segment your email list based on reader interests to send targeted campaigns that resonate more effectively.
  • Regular communication: Maintain consistent communication with your subscribers through engaging newsletters or updates.

10. Sell Your Own Products:

Take your expertise to the next level by creating and selling your own products. This could be physical merchandise, digital downloads, or even printables related to your niche.

  • Identify audience needs: Develop products that address the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
  • High-quality offerings: Invest in creating high-quality products that offer exceptional value and user experience.
  • Utilize multiple platforms: Sell your products through your blog, online marketplaces, or even social media platforms.

11. Sponsorships and Brand Collaborations:

Partner with brands or businesses relevant to your niche for sponsored content or collaborations. This can be a lucrative way to leverage your audience and generate income.

  • Maintain editorial control: While working with sponsors, ensure you retain editorial control to maintain your blog’s authenticity and audience trust.
  • Disclosures are essential: Clearly disclose sponsored content to readers, upholding transparency and ethical practices.
  • Align with your niche: Partner with brands that complement your content and resonate with your audience.

12. Freelancing and Paid Writing Opportunities:

Your blog can serve as a springboard for freelance writing opportunities. Showcase your writing skills and expertise through your blog content, attracting potential clients.

  • Target relevant publications: Identify online publications, websites, or magazines related to your niche and pitch your writing services.
  • High-quality samples: Include high-quality blog posts from your site as writing samples when pitching to potential clients.
  • Develop strong writing skills: Continuously hone your writing skills and stay updated on current trends in your niche to deliver exceptional work.


Building a successful blog that generates income requires dedication, strategic planning, and high-quality content. In today’s digital age, there are numerous opportunities to make money online through blogging. By utilizing a combination of methods such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling digital products or services, you can leverage your blog’s potential and achieve financial success.

Remember, consistency in posting, engaging with your audience, and staying adaptable to trends are key to thriving in the ever-evolving blogosphere. Embrace new strategies, refine your approaches, and always keep your readers at the forefront of your content creation journey. With dedication and the right approach, your blog has the potential to become a valuable source of income and a platform for sharing your knowledge and passion with the world, making money online while doing what you love.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?




Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach



Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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