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Table of Contents

Lead Story

Partnerships fuel portfolio growth

News

Industry Update

Direct Air's bankruptcy threatens JetPay

Coalition responds to retailers' debit rule complaint

Consultancy faults PCI tokenization guidance

Heartland breach suit settled

Selling Prepaid

Prepaid in brief

Expo meets expectations in atmosphere of change

Prepaid goes to Washington

Views

Choosing a partner for life

Justin Milmeister
Elite Merchant Solutions

Technology, a catalyst for ISO growth

Mustafa Shehabi
PayCube Inc.

Education

Street SmartsSM:
Plotting a prosperous future

Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

Is it time for you to resell integrated payment systems?

Paul Hunter
Sterling Payment Technologies

As a PCI compliance role model, how do you measure up?

Heather Foster
ControlScan

Use new card fees to build merchant rapport

Jeffrey Shavitz and Adam Moss
Charge Card Systems Inc.

Working with outside marketing experts

Peggy Bekavac Olson
Strategic Marketing

No more contract-signing hurdle

Steve Norell
US Merchant Services Inc.

Company Profile

Electronic Payment Exchange

New Products

Wireless payments at the restaurant table

RAIL
Company: Viableware

Driving donations online for nonprofits

eSelectPlus with DonorDrive
Company: Moneris Solutions

Inspiration

Don't let hot leads slip away

Features

Fulfilling brand promise

Departments

Forum

Resource Guide

Datebook

A Bigger Thing

The Green Sheet Online Edition

April 09, 2012  •  Issue 12:04:01

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Working with outside marketing experts

By Peggy Bekavac Olson

With the weak economy of the past few years, organizations are now tasked with doing more with less. This is especially true when it comes to marketing. Given today's realities, budgets are cut to the bone and resources have been stretched way too thin, even out of existence.

Nevertheless, marketing still plays an integral role in helping businesses become successful, so many companies are turning to outside marketing experts to tap into their knowledge and resources on an as-needed basis. Some businesses outsource specific marketing functions to supplement the efforts of exsisting marketing teams; others outsource to compensate for severely limited or nonexistent in-house capabilities.

Assess the offerings

While outsourcing to a marketing firm can bring your business many strengths and broad capabilities, these qualities tend to come in two distinct flavors: strategic and tactical. And outsourced marketing can be strategic, tactical or both. Strategic marketing occurs at a high level and involves developing strategies and creating plans to do the following:

Strategic marketing involves a careful assessment of internal and external factors, such as company mission; business goals; marketing mix; organizational constraints; market and competitor analysis; and any technical, economic and legal issues likely to impact success.

Tactical marketing executes elements specified in a marketing plan that is based on a defined business strategy. Examples of marketing tactics are creating a brochure or advertisement; planning an event; executing a direct mail, public relations or advertising campaign; and building a website. Marketing tactics can also employ reactive, shoot-from-the-hip activities and initiatives that occur in response to market conditions and unexpected situations.

Many companies outsource activities that are not core to their businesses. For example, developing a brand strategy may be of critical importance; but writing and distributing a press release may not be and, therefore, may be easier to outsource. On a tactical level, many companies strapped for marketing resources can't get work out the door because of a lack of expertise or bandwidth, especially if their marketing teams are departments of one.

Know your needs

Companies intuitively know what's right for their organizations in terms of marketing outsourcing. They know what they're good at and where their weaknesses lie. Outsourcing should be used to bolster marketing weaknesses so that more time can be allocated to maximizing strengths.

For example, when internal marketing resources are good at developing strategies but can't be bothered with the details, it makes sense to outsource the tactical functions. Likewise, when marketing resources are not yet seasoned experts in the payments industry, it is wise to engage them in tactical work and get outside help with strategy development. Further, when marketing resources are good at creative design, but their communications and copywriting skills are lacking, outsourcing those is the way to go.

Before you engage an outside marketing expert, identify the most important things from a marketing standpoint that must be done to achieve strategic objectives. Then make a list of all the day-to-day work that simply can't be avoided. Prioritize and outsource what you don't have skills for, time to do or care to do internally. This activity helps focus the search to find the right type of outsourced help.

Choose wisely

Marketing firms come in many varieties: corporate behemoths, boutique industry specialists, and regional or local firms. Each firm has its own unique strengths, such as strategy, research, brand, public relations, Web and interactive media, and events. The basics of marketing do apply somewhat across all industries. However, because of the complexity of our sphere, choosing an outside marketing partner that understands the unique aspects of the electronic payments industry is prudent. When you don't do this, you spend too much time teaching the partner you've brought on board. Even worse, you may end up with ineffective strategies and tactics that fall far short of the mark. I recommend choosing a firm whose successes closely align with your needs.

The job of a marketing partner to which you can outsource is to provide a rich outsider perspective, fill gaps in capabilities and expertise, and strengthen your overall marketing efforts. The end result should propel your business forward in a very positive and effective way, while helping you do more with less.

Peggy Bekavac Olson founded Strategic Marketing, a full-service marketing and communications firm specializing in financial services and electronic payment companies, after serving as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for TSYS. She can be reached at 480-706-0816 or peggyolson@smktg.com. Information about Strategic Marketing can be found at www.smktg.com.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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Spotlight Innovators:

North American Bancard | USAePay | Impact Paysystems | Electronic Merchant Systems | Board Studios