Marketing: Cost or Investment?

The marketing function encompasses a broad range of activities. Where many roles are becoming more specialised and siloed, marketers are expected to be the ultimate polymath. The traits that make up the personality of a great marketer; creative, proactive, curious, explorative and innovative thinking to name but a few, mean that the inquisitive marketer is in their element with the plethora of analytics available.


As marketers, we know that marketing plays a crucial role in any strategy. Anyone who has attended a workshop or event we have run will have heard us preaching about the importance of aligning the business strategy with the marketing and digital marketing strategies. However, with businesses laser focused on customer service, the role of marketing is getting further blurred at the edges. If the professional marketers within our organisations are struggling to focus their job-specification, can we be frustrated by the operational leaders that their lack of understanding as to the value of the function leads to a lack of engagement?


All too often, as an outsourced agency providing marketing support to businesses without their own internal function, we are a step into the unknown for the management team. What doesn’t help is that an investment in marketing typically has a return on investment for the services industry of 36-months. Add to this that the sales-focused marketing strategies served through Google Ads promise to exponentially grow your business with the number of Instagram followers you have, in the addition to the need for a pinned down marketing strategy is often mis-understood. Vanity metrics such as Facebook likes or LinkedIn connections are all well-and-good, nice to have and make us feel good- for the lazy marketer, they are also a simple metric to measure and to show an increase in! However, if you have 50K followers and none of them engage with your content, there is little value in their volume.


The Chartered Institute of Marketing recently commissioned a report with Price Waterhouse Coopers, which defined the marketing role as ‘The management process for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably. This includes a range of activities: advertising; sponsorship, research and development; customer relationship management; design/creative activity; database management and data mining; branding; digital optimisation; public relations; business development; website design and user experience; and social media engagement activities.’ What marketers are best at, therefore is plate spinning! There is an expectation of management capability- producing reports, presenting results to the board, meeting with the key stakeholders and decision makers and all at the same time as getting down and dirty- being the doers. And maybe that’s what makes us tick. Certainly, for all the fellow marketers that I know, the fact that they still get to write copy, still get to deep dive into the data, still get to predict consumer behaviour or get creative with (or without) the use of a designer is that thing that means they love their jobs.


What then of the option for taking your marketing function inhouse or engaging with an agency? An in house marketer, or marketing team, if your business can sustain the cost, is a great step forward to focus on growth or brand or lead generation or awareness or any marketing priorities that the strategy may suggest, around-the-work-clock. Investing in an inhouse marketer that is the experienced polymath will pay dividends and will- for the right fit, help to bridge the business strategy and the ‘getting it done’ priorities of the operators. Using an agency’s support will provide you with a multi-faceted function and numerous people with whom your account manager can liaise to gain support & expertise. Most marketers at the start of their career, have an area of specialism- or preference, whilst more senior professionals will have a wider understanding across the marketing mix.


In many companies, marketing is seen as simply the customer-facing part of the business- therefore, often, only considered towards the end of the decision-making process. We would argue that getting a marketer (or the right agency) involved at the earliest point of any decision-making process, preferably before the strategic direction and objectives have been set, will bring insights, data and ideas to the table, as well as enabling the customer-facing brand to percolate through every department of the business. Perhaps this highlights one aspect of the culture of the business. Investment versus cost and the question of which of these the management team view as the space inhabited by the marketing team- outsourced or internal.


With that date looming large at the end of this month, marketing is arguably more important than ever for businesses. In a country likely to hit a state of political and economic shock, maintaining focus, direction, strategic goals and the driving force behind growth is critical. The focus on profitability will continue to be paramount to business success. But cutting costs may well mean that the strategic goal or message is no longer the focus. One thing is certain in the digital era, and that is; doing nothing is not an option. The old adage ‘do what you have always done and get what you have always got’ may, finally, hit the slippery slide towards room 101. Do what you have always done and hit oblivion may be the new mantra.


Businesses that we are involved with, which hold marketing in high regard as an investment rather than a cost; those taking time and effort to establish or re-establish the company culture and are clearly defining the role of marketing within that map, are likely to be the businesses which flourish over the coming 12-months. With the Chartered Institute of Marketing Export Report laying claim that the marketing industry generates close to £37 billion in gross value added, investing in marketing- strategy and implementation, followed by measurement and ROI, along with creating a clear strategy, one that the marketing function can underpin with a general, digital, social, traditional and brand strategy, will set businesses apart from their competition.


If you would like to discuss your option, or even just for a sounding-board conversation with one of the team at Fabulous Marketing, get in touch by calling 0800 112 0880 or by emailing You never know where the conversation may take you!