Tag Archives: inbound marketing

The Simplest Ways to Make the Best Use of Digital Activity


I read an article recently on Why You Should Outsource Digital Marketing, here. At the end of the piece, Robin Ayoub’s sign-off (quoted later) made me smile – and prompted me to write this post. Accordingly, I would like to discuss some ways to make the best of digital activity. In the main, we will look at whether businesses should be outsourcing or insourcing the online element of their marketing plans.

Allow me to point out upfront that, I don’t really like the description digital marketing because, in O’C&K, we firmly believe that marketing, in essence, has not changed. It’s just that nowadays, marketers must operate in an increasingly digital environment.

So, I’m using the term digital activity in this post in the understanding that it is an important constituent of any marketing activity. The second thing I’d like to elaborate on is what we mean by insourcing vs. outsourcing.

O’C&K – Insourcing means hiring team members in-house and outsourcing means working with an agency.

It recent times, a trend has been suggested of corporates insourcing more of their digital activity. Of course, these corporates may have specific and good reasons for doing so, including:

a) the spend on online marketing is rising and they want more supervision of it, or

b) because agency talent is moving across the divide! or

c) because as agencies have grown over the last 10/15 years they might not be nimble enough for ‘lean’ marketing departments. These departments constantly have to respond rapidly to their changing customer’s online behaviour, so flexibility is desirable.

Another point worth remembering is that digital activity is more than just advertising online. A move to an inbound strategy needs to reflect this i.e. inbound marketing is not a campaign.

I spoke with an SME (SMB) owner recently and his fear of outsourcing digital was really about outsourcing his personal relationships. He was also worried that some ‘youngster’s’ lack of commitment / knowledge in an agency might damage a long-term relationship that he had built up. Both are legitimate worries that must be attended to genuinely.

Thinking positively, though, I believe that the suggested trend might not be all bad for agencies. For me, it shows that businesses are thinking more about, and understanding, their marketing activity, be it online or offline.

Do you Insource the Chicken or Outsource the Eggs?

Robin Ayoub’s sign-off mentioned above: “Think about this: You need a dozen eggs. Do you go to the super/farmer’s market and pick up a carton, or buy a space to farm chickens and pay for all of their expenses?”

Of course, we can all see that digital is changing how we engage customers, measure marketing activity and develop strategies. Whatever the size of the business, being smarter about marketing is key and being online is part of that.

Be honest when answering this question, though, how many SMEs really have the time, experience or the resources to develop and implement their comprehensive digital marketing activity?

In such cases, and many of our own customers’ cases, outsourcing is a good way to put their toe-in-the-water. Jumping straight into building an in-house team mostly comes with a hefty price tag e.g. experience, technology and salary+.

Outsourcing to a small, flexible marketing agency can add productivity to your business team and provide measurable results.

We know that outsourcing is not opportune in all business scenarios and In a previous post on Inbound Marketing, here, we discussed the pros and cons of same. Here are a few questions again that might help you determine whether it makes sense for your business:

  • Does your marketing activity need a general overhaul anyway?
  • Do you understand online marketing but just don’t have the time to implement campaigns?
  • Do you know nothing about online marketing and want to start small and learn?
  • Do you want to scale up your existing online activity to drive business growth?

If you have answered, yes, to any of the above – you should probably outsource your digital activity. With the risk of this sounding like a business pitch, outsourcing can be a great way to get just the right expert that is already skilled at what you want to do. Your marketing capacity will increase, it will be fresher and, if applicable, your staff member looking after marketing will have the opportunity for continuous learning.

At the end of the day – as a business owner – outsourcing allows you to concentrate on growing the business, safe in the knowledge that the marketing is in good hands. An agency can help you understand where you are with your current digital activity, and strategise where you need to go with it.

Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Digital Activity

There is one simple way of determining whether you should outsource. Ask yourself – what is a core competency for my business? If digital or marketing (or both) are not – then you probably should look at bringing in this skill.

Some downsides of outsourcing are, that 1) you must be willing to trust the agency implicitly by sharing data, strategies etc. Also, if the agency is paid by the hour – the fees may add up. 2) you might not get the senior operator at the agency on an ongoing basis (alluded to above) and 3) an agency may not be as passionate about your business as you / in-house team are.

A few of the main advantages are (some mentioned above) that i) outsourcing can bring in the exact skill that you require, ii) the agency will have substitutes in case of illness etc; iii) agencies learn from other customers and can transfer their learnings and iv) agencies may well have existing platforms / IT that can be used for you without extra expense.

The decision whether to outsource or not is not an easy one because of individual businesses’ variables. It is our opinion though that quite often, due to time constraints, the decision is not even being contemplated.

Outsourcing tips and timesavers for SMEs

We predict that outsourcing will continue to be a good option, especially for SMEs, in the immediate future. With the advances in marketing tools and channels, funds can be allocated to measurable activity that will help grow the business.

Here are 5 overall benefits why we think outsourcing will be favoured over insourcing for the foreseeable future and 4 ways how a business might maximise results from doing so:

  1. Productivity increase – people are free to concentrate on core competencies
  2. Cost effective – less finance required for outsourcing and savings / cost reduction are paramount for start-ups
  3. Low risk – marketing accountability is passed on to the agency with the project
  4. Time management – outsourcing ensures measurable activity / milestones at a relatable cost
  5. Expertise – Outsourcing opens access to a range of other expertise that agencies use

Maximising the results:

  1. Treat the agency as a partner
  2. Provide the agency with very clear objectives
  3. Be passionate about the project and expect the agency to be as passionate
  4. Agree up-front whether hourly rates or a project fee suits both parties equally


Availed of at the right time and for the right reasons, outsourcing can provide the knowledge, and the experience, for focused marketing execution. In particular, it can provide the business nous necessary to create value and to successfully deliver upon online marketing objectives.

“Thank you for reading our blog post today” – Aidan & Jim.

 Would you like us to notify you, by email, when we publish new content? If so, just let us know by clicking here. Of course, we can always meet face-to-face, just leave your details here and we might grab a coffee, cheers. Jim – O’C&K

Inbound Marketing – should it stay, in-house, or should it go?


“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

9 tips for planning your inbound marketing.

It’s been a few years now since brands realised that people were becoming increasingly annoyed by ‘intrusive’ marketing. What arose (primed by the advances in technologically assisted connectedness), was a method of attracting people to your brand rather than invading their space with an irrelevant message.

This ‘new’ approach was called inbound marketing and appeared to be a logical way to proceed, mainly because consumers have never had it so easy to be able to switch off irrelevant brand communication.. Of course, it was, and is, a back to the future scenario because the rationale for smarter marketing hasn’t changed, just the methodologies available.

In fact, inbound marketing is flying so high nowadays, it’s like there is no other way of marketing. It has become king of the marketing castle. To confound matters further, there are many practitioners out there proclaiming that traditional marketing is dead because ‘content marketing’ has taken over.

Before we proceed, let’s clarify one thing – in our opinion content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing. It is the lifeblood of an inbound strategy without which, there is no hook for people to listen to your brand communication.

Well, to all you marketers and organisations out there, you’ll be pleased to know that traditional (outbound) marketing is not dead. It is alive and well. It still has a part to play in a focused marketing plan. Here is a table outlining sample activity that may form part of your detailed marketing plan, depending on the target audience and business goals.

Traditional / Outbound / Push Marketing Inbound / Content / Pull Marketing
Radio or Television ads Website – SEO
Outdoor advertising Social Media
Tradeshows or Exhibitions Blogs
Direct Mail Whitepapers or eBooks
Flyers, Circulars or Inserts Email campaigns
Outbound Call Centres eNewsletters
Banner or Display ads Podcasts, Webinars or Video streaming


A brief summary of the above table is that – outbound activity is an attempt to ‘buy’ the attention of the targeted audience whereas, inbound activity is an attempt to ‘earn’ their attention. Of course, both methods have their pros and cons but the essence of success is a mix of both, that will provide measureable results.

9 tips for planning your inbound marketing.

Although almost everyone is talking about embracing inbound marketing, it is not as easy as having a few social media accounts and blogging every now and then. It takes commitment, perseverance and some creativity to achieve measureable results. These results will be based on a business plan and should culminate in increased leads, conversions and sales.

Here are our tips and timesavers when planning your inbound strategy.

  1. Invite, don’t interrupt. – Use social media, blogs, articles, newsletters etc. to engage with your audience.
  2. Help, don’t sell. –  If you know your audience well, you will know what they want – give it to them.
  3. Humanise, don’t automate. – When you get the leads, you need to nurture the relationships.
  4. Be relevant not incidental. – Blog a lot of relevant content, as regularly as you can.
  5. Measure, don’t guess. – You can be smarter about your marketing by knowing what works.
  6. Be visible, not hidden. – Use SEO to increase the likelihood of being found in searches.
  7. Talk directly, not generally. – Use email selectively and customise content for recipients.
  8. Spark conversation, not self-promotion. – Use social media as a ‘social medium’ not an advertising channel.
  9. Entice rather than pay. – Short, consumable content that educates or entertains will work.

Stay or Go? Content marketing In-house, or outsourced?

The first thing to emphasise here is that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. The fact is, that it totally depends on your business objectives and of course your budget. It may also be the case, as it is with some of our own clients, that a combination of both is the more suitable.

Some of the main arguments we hear against outsourcing are:

A) can outsiders capture your brand voice? Our answer is yes they can – there are many very talented writers out there who are extremely creative and professional enough to avoid the content becoming just more advertising copy.

B) Our own marketing dept. / person can write a blog – yes they could, but different audiences require different approaches / channels, and we would ask “do they have the time and expertise to adapt”?

C) In-house people understand the brand guidelines better – at the end of the day, content that connects with people is what counts not content that adheres to company rules. Of course, if the agency is not producing what it promised it is also easier to terminate their contract than it is that of an existing staff member.

Accordingly, we encourage organisations to outsource in the following four situations:

-You don’t have the time to do it yourself.

-You don’t have the expertise in various content types.

-Keeping up to date on trends is too much of a chore.

-Your marketing needs to be smarter, in order to grow your business.

Every time we discuss this topic with clients or prospects, we offer them a trial period of six months with O’C&K. In that way, a company owner (marketing manager) can gauge the time and effort that is required to manage an inbound strategy and supply quality content. Thereafter, they can decide which route adds more value to their business operation.

Six months is not sufficient time for an inbound strategy to kick-in but at least it will show the volume of effort involved.

One other alternative, referred to above, is to outsource one element of your marketing plan. This could be writing a blog, a white paper or an e-book, managing an email or social media campaign, all of which could be once-off projects as part of your overall engagement strategy for clients.

Let’s face it, you are in business to grow your company and improve your revenue. Outsourcing some or all of your marketing, can help you reach your business objectives. Sometimes, expanding your internal marketing department or hiring an intern is just not a good use of your resources.

If you do outsource, it means that you could use the savings to drive growth while in the knowledge that your marketing activity is playing its part in your success.

We would say that though wouldn’t we?

Because that is what we do..

   If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K

Social Media is neither social nor media.

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

Thoughts from a social media ‘tweetup’ of Irish SMEs.

Are you a small business? Are you on twitter? Are you wondering when this social media thingy is going to start providing you with a bucket load of leads?

Last Thursday evening, I had the privilege of speaking at a gathering of small businesses that ‘tweet’. It was organised by Samantha Kelly, @tweetinggoddess and was hosted by the wonderful Deirdre McDonald, General Manager of the Ariel House in Ballsbridge, Dublin. I was asked to speak about marketing and social media for small businesses. My problem was – I had only been given 20 minutes to elaborate on what is probably the content of many a day-long course, on the matter.

The first thing that struck me at the gathering was the enthusiasm of the 28 participants. Interestingly, only 18% were of the male variety, but it was like working your way through a box of liquorice allsorts. I spoke with a credit management consultant (@creditspace), a theoretical physicist who is a knitware designer (@naoimigillis); there was a fertility expert (@fertilityexpert), a business editor (@ailishohora), printers (@castleprint_dee), watch makers (@pridewatches) and even love letter writers (@lovelettersws). Apologies to everybody I’m leaving out here, but you get my gist. The room was buzzing, and all talking about social media.

Then I spoke, and dropped the bombshell – “I don’t believe that, for a business, social media should be either social or media”. Well, I can tell you, that statement silenced the room. I went on to explain my thoughts, in that businesses shouldn’t really try to build a ‘friendly companionship’ with their audience. This is not to say that a business should not engage, it’s just that it should not do so in the same way as we do on our personal social media sites. In relation to the media ‘bit’ of the above statement, I elaborated that historically, media tools (press, radio, TV etc.) were used for unilateral flows of information. Social media platforms on the other hand, I suggested, are a place for attracting people to find out stuff – the modern description is, inbound marketing. The rest of my ‘few words’ summarised other things that social media wasn’t and of course I also highlighted how social media can be used by businesses, both big and small. By the way, I did finish within the allotted 20 minutes, in case you’re wondering. Chatting with people thereafter was fascinating and the rest of this post is a reflection of the theme of our conversations.

While all of this was taking place we were being spoiled by canapés and other delectable goodies – baked in-house by @arielhouse.

We discussed the fact that although social media is an integral part of marketing activity, it is only one piece of it. I warned some of my new ‘friends’ against setting up numerous social media accounts because doing so would give a false sense of security that they would be automatically exposed to a world of business leads – when in fact if their customers or prospects are not there, their return will be exactly zero.

With a few people, I did find myself warning that social media will not be the saviour of their business i.e. a quick fix. Many in the room were twitter ‘newbies’ and, in fairness, appeared to realise that being on social media, is an activity to be undertaken, and not a static platform that one sets up and then ignores. I underlined that just posting content or re-tweeting is not the answer either. Created content must be relevant to a specific audience and as such, time must be spent building a database of loyal customers and / or visitors. I made the point that the ultimate goal of a business is to build a loyal customer (previous post), but that a person just ‘liking’ your page, or ‘starring’ your tweet does not ensure such loyalty. It was generally agreed that there are no short cuts and that a business owner has to have the commitment to work on customer engagement – just having social accounts is not enough.

What everybody totally understood though was that at the very root of a brand is a person. Nearly all of the people I spoke with were either one or two person enterprises and it was very obvious that these people wanted to engage with other people that were in a similar situation. I thought there was a real sense of community in the room. It felt like ‘we’re all in this together, so let’s help each other out’. It really was fantastic, and there was a sense of ‘can do’, in the air. This was epitomised by Jason of Pride Watches, who told us the story of how he set his business up in 2012, and is set to hit sales of €1m this year.

I do believe that most of the participants there accepted the point that if a business wants their ‘social’ efforts to pay off, they have to go beyond just being on twitter, facebook or linkedin. For me, I was reminded that being social starts and ends with real engagement, both online and offline.

If you’re new here thanks for popping in and please feel free to leave a reply below. If you liked our content, by all means subscribe by clicking through the pink button to receive our regular updates.  Of course if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.      Jim – O’C&K