First, you have to define what exactly is your marketing department composed of :
1. Do you have technical writers, market analysts, product strategists, branding experts, graphic designers, advertising experts ?
2. What specific function of your marketing department is failing or stagnant ?
3. Are they failing to promote your products/services effectively ?
4. Are the failing to follow the competitor and market trends ?
5. Are unable to bring in good ideas for existing and new products ?
6. Are they failing in effective branding of your company/products?
Marketing department these days is like the backbone of a company. In fact it's even critical to the other two core parts of the company, i.e. the sales and product team. So they need to be very passionate and active, and help push the company forward. Stagnation can be due to several causes e.g. :
1. Apathetic employees or team
2. Poor or inexperienced leadership (for the department)
3. Weak/New Industry, Poor/New Brand Name, Unmarketable Products (or difficult-to-market products)
Outside firms are not cheap and not sustainable long-term (unless you can afford it). If you plan to do some one-time or short-term projects, like getting consultation on a new project, get a new website design, doing brochures, exhibition, advertising, some branding advice etc.. then that's alright.
In the long-term however, you will still need a set of skilled and experienced people in your marketing department to help push the company forward. Also, doing this internally will give you better control and flexibility, and you can eventually accumulate a lot of know-how and experience in terms of marketing (that is very relevant and specific to your industry).
I would recommend an in-depth analysis of your current marketing team and an optimization plan. Sometimes all you need is one genius, one fantastic marketing leader, who will turn the whole department around.
You’re not alone! A lot of companies - large and small - deal with this on a regular basis.
Before a definitive solution can be found, a few questions need to be addressed:
1. Does your existing marketing department *want* to improve?
2. Do they have a leader who can help them navigate to change?
3. Has there been clear direction from the top of your organization to prompt this?
4. Are there clear deliverables or goals for the existing team?
At a high level, I see three paths here:
1. Hiring an Outside Marketing Agency
The first thing an outside agency will require is that the company leadership and marketing department come together to clearly define the desired expectations and outcomes.
This exercise will be good for both parties, and can rejuvenate your existing marketing department as they work with an outside firm.
A potential drawback to this approach is that the outside firm does not have the intimate knowledge of your company, understand your culture, and may not authentically deliver your “brand voice”.
2. Staying With Your Existing Marketing Department
Another option is is to double down on your existing marketing department. By investing in them, and encouraging them to step up, you can take advantage of the knowledge they already have for your company, product, services, culture, etc.
If you feel that the department has potential, get them connected with resources or training courses that strengthens their knowledge and expands their creativity.
3. Work With a Consultant
The third option is to work with a consultant who can create a hybrid of these two scenarios.
A successful consultant can infuse new knowledge into your existing marketing department. By doing this, you get the best of both of your options since your existing marketing team can bring their in-depth understanding and pair it with the excitement and prospect of working with someone who brings a fresh perspective.
Additionally, a consultant can “go to bat” for either the company leadership or the marketing department. In my experience, I’ve found that a lack of communication is often to blame for departments stagnating. A consultant often asks questions that bring these issues to the surface so they can be properly dealt with.
Good luck! Let me know how things progress.
P.S. If you want to get into more specifics, or need clarity on a point I made, feel free to book a call with me and we can get into more detail.
The implication is that sales have gone down also. If that is **not** the case, then hiring an outside marketing firm can be a good Idea and then you can re-position your marketing team to do other things.
If sales have plunged as a result of the stagnation of the marketing department, then It would be more effective to replace the marketing manager. Everything rises and falls on leadership, and if the marketing manager is slacking, that attitude will permeate the selection and working relationship with an outside firm.
Logically if the marketing manager cannot motivate himself or his team how can they manage an outside team. (Also a plunge in sales would mean lack of resources to hire outside firms)
An outside firm should be reserved for those that are doing well, and need to move personnel from marketing to customer service to facilitate the influx of new business that was created from their efforts in the first place.