Episode 2

RSM Founding Partner Bruce Rowley sits down with Marketing Director Ryan Gates to answer some of the most common questions people have about how the Outsourced Marketing Department actually works. How do they interact? Who do they interact with? How fast can they react? How do they communicate? Can it really be better than someone in an office down the hall? Ryan doesn’t hold back, you’re sure to find the answers to many of the questions you’ve got when considering outsourcing your marketing department.


Welcome everyone to the outsourced marketing department podcast, I’m your host, Ryan Gates. If you’re new, thanks for joining us, and if you’re returning, welcome back.
Today we’re with Bruce rally to talk about how to integrate an outsourced market department, or OMD, into your business. Bruce is a co-founder of RSM marketing services in Wichita, Kansas, an entrepreneurial company specializing in outsource marketing with clients across North America.

Alright, so Bruce just to refresh our listeners on outsource marketing, can you briefly summarize what an OMD is?

Sure, and is a flat rate subscription that enables a company to get access to the huge range of specialized talent that they need on a daily basis. It also enables them to change out that talent as their needs change day by day, but continue to pay a flat rate for it.

Great, thanks for that.

So your a business… You reached the point where OMD is right for you, it’s what you wanna do. So, I how do you go from in-house or agency for that matter, into utilizing an OMD?

Well, it really depends on the current situation. So a lot of clients find themselves in a moment of need, because they’ve maybe lost a resource, and they’ve got… A lot of times they come to us urgently because maybe they’ve lost a resource, they’ve not been able to hire somebody new, and they understand that during that gap they’re gonna need somebody to step in. So it really starts with some very technical, simple question and answers. “What are the passwords to the various websites and social media channels?” Getting us added to all of those things is really where it starts and because often times we’re essentially slipping into the driver’s seat while while the vehicle is still moving down a road. So, we’re less concerned about, at that moment, about what the destination is, and oftentimes in the beginning, then just making sure that the vehicle doesn’t crash. So from there, it quickly, that’s usually a quick transition of a few days a week or so. And then from there, it moves very quickly into an understanding of what are the goals? What are the objectives? What does… We wanna understand the financial metrics of a client’s business. And by that what I mean is we need to be able to figure out how are we best going to generate an ROI. What are the areas where we can create the most amount of value for that client right away?

Sure, so as you’re slipping into the driver’s seat there. And do you find in most scenarios for OMD, that it makes sense to be in that driver seat or do you find yourself sometimes the passenger seat.

Sure, well we do it both ways. And I guess in the passenger seat, I’m not sure whether we’re ever creating the most value in the passenger seat, maybe we’re more of a co-pilot.

If you ever take a long road trip, as long as we’re keeping this driving analogy going, it’s nice to have somebody to step in and take over. It’s much more efficient if you’re driving across country to be able to switch roles. And so, even when a client has someone in place often times we perform a great role in terms of helping that person to extend their bandwidth, get more done. They’re able to delegate a lot of the work to us so that they can then move on and focus further ahead even for the business and let go of a lot of “the now” kinds of things.

So, it just brings up a great question which is one you need to have a Marketing Director at. Is it important to have a point person within marketing with your company or can OMD, truly be an entirely outsourced thing where you really can outsource your entire marketing department?

Well, we have clients that do it both ways and very successful either way. Some clients there is a marketing director in the Marketing Director plays a pivotal role in working with our team. And like I said, oftentimes it enables that person to focus on the bigger picture and have a more forward thinking and forward-facing role in their organization rather than one that oftentimes can be reactive. Now for clients that don’t have a marketing director and we have many of those, it does require and we make it clear it requires a bit of a commitment from either the CEO, managing partner, so it could be the senior VP of sales sometimes, but we look for somebody in a C-Suite or senior management type of role, to be able to dedicate… We don’t ask for a lot. Oftentimes, we keep it simple and we meet with that person 30 minutes, maybe an hour a week. Maybe it’s an hour every two weeks. And we use that relationship to establish priorities and be able to then share results with them, get information from them, the feedback from the business to see that what we’re doing is working and work together in that way,

It’s gotta be imperative to have a point of contact within… Just to be the flow of information and to be the champion, I would assume from within as well,

Right, well, otherwise it is truly the sound of one hand clapping if it’s just us.

Yeah, I… So what is that flow of information look like in how you talked about meeting on a regular basis? But if I’ve got somebody in my market, department in-house, I know that their offices here, here, are there hours here is how I get my documents back and forth my information. What does that look like in an OMD?

Well, you know, these days, digital processes allow us to move documents really in a way that it’s so seamless from where it’s been in the past. So we have a wide range of tools to use to work with clients in a way that is, frankly, no different in many cases, even more efficient than what we’ve seen in terms of people whose offices are right next to each other. Whether that’s shared documents, shared drives, we’ve got cloud-based project management. Obviously, there’s chat, there’s phones, there’s a lot of different ways that we’re in constant and communication and a lot of that is just moving the work through. We don’t need to schedule meetings to sit down and show the work. We handle most of that digitally. So, as a client you’re seeing on a regular basis, the work progress through, you’re able to check online and see what the status is of your work, if something requests, if something needs your review or your approval, it’s popping up on your dashboard or in your email in real time. We’re not spending a lot of time having meetings to look at print-outs and discuss them. We really wanna use our face-to-face time focused on higher value planning for future priorities rather than going through the minutia of proofreading and all that kind of stuff.

Sure, so what are some of the challenges that you’ve run into, for integrating an OMD, with a business?

Wow, you know… I think the number one challenge, and we really try not to fight it, and usually when we’re talking with the client early on we make it clear, we don’t ever go where we’re not invited. It’s not our job to show up in an organization, and try and fight our way through that organization to create value. We wanna be on the same page with a client and if folks there, don’t believe that marketing creates value, that creates friction. And so, we’ve walked away from engagements where we’ve had to say, “Look this isn’t really the best fit for you, you guys”, if you’re looking for marketing to do something, that it’s never gonna do… We’re gonna be honest about that.

And that’s something you run into, obviously, in-house, anywhere that you always got spoilers, in any business, so I… What are the positives… What do you look for to have a successful integration? What are you looking for from a business to have a handshake agreement to make this work?

Well, it starts with a conversation with the clients to understand what is their expectation. What do they want their investment in marketing to bring them in terms of a return and having very candid conversations around what will that look like what will that take. How long will it be until you start to see a result? We all… We also try to prioritize early on things in the relationship that give everyone a win. It helps a lot if you can find a few early wins with a client, and this is not us, trying to be, have trickery. Usually we work with a client to say, “Hey in order to bring everybody on board in your organization, the sales team, ’cause they’re always questioning it. Maybe there are some marketing people there or brand managers, or product managers, it’s the CFO, the Board who knows who. Those folks are, always looking for “okay, we made this switch. Where is the result?” so we always look for some early good solid wins that we can create that goes a long way towards bringing people on board right away and us gives everyone the confidence, and the patients to then get those bigger wins that follow that, maybe take a bit more time to figure out.

Awesome, so with an in-house, obviously, you’ve got people that are right down the hallway from you. Now in OMD somebody’s not down the hallway from you. Talk about… And then we talked about the integration of our files and be able to share things that way. Do your clients in OMD… Do they find it to be a challenge or is this something that, that is something that’s easily overcome?

No, I think if you talk to our clients, they would consider us to be more available oftentimes than people that they’ve worked with in-house. That person’s down the hall, except for the two weeks when they’re on vacation except for the days that they are out in meetings or at a training session or out sick. When you’ve got a team here to talk to, not just one person, you get a lot more immediate reaction from folks. You’ve got a lot more resources to work with.

So this brings up a question I’m curious about. So we talked earlier on about a lot of companies. Maybe they’re scrambling they’re looking for somebody to fill a position to fill that position. We’re talking about onboarding a single person, and the time and energy and labor, that goes into that training… Talk about the time and labor and training that would go into bringing on an entire OMD department.

I don’t think that it’s wildly any different than the time and training, that it takes to onboard a new employee. In fact, I would bet that our folks are often times faster. And the reason is, they are trained to understand how to be quick studies at identifying where are the opportunities, and because they’ve got so much experience working with many other clients that we have… And not just clients that they might be working with. But remember, they’re surrounded by colleagues who were also working on different kinds of clients. There’s a lot of cross-sharing that happens here, and it’s amazing the kind of things that get applied where somebody who’s sitting at a table here who’s talking with a colleague across the table and about something that they’re doing for a client in a completely different industry, but they’re able to immediately understand. “Hey, wait a minute, that’s a pretty cool tactic” or a pretty cool idea or a pretty cool strategy that I could be applying to my client who’s in a completely different business, and that’s the kind of cross-pollination, that somebody in-house just isn’t gonna get.

Sure and it’s a… In every experience I’ve gotten business, the more diverse the portfolio, you’re working on, the more it lends to everything, it’s never a fan of getting siloed into one thing that you only think about one thing and you don’t see in other perspectives.

Well, one of our core values is curiosity, and that’s because; number one, we always wanna be seeking the next. Well, I was on… We’re always chasing the next challenge, the next record, what’s the next objective? But it’s also because our people have, and we recruit and hire and train people who have a deep curiosity, to really understand a client’s business and you have to wanna do that. Right? You can’t just walk into a relationship with a client and, A assume that you know everything, ’cause you sure don’t. You also you’ve got a window of opportunity to learn that client’s business and if three four months go by, and they’re having to explain something to you a second or third time you’ve squandered that window of opportunity in the beginning. And our folks are certainly aware of that and we stay really focused on making sure that those first few months, where we’re trying to get as up to speed as humanly possible in the fastest way possible.

I have to believe that employee turnover or I guess lack there would be an important part of that. I’ve had frustrations in the past, going to an agency, and I feel like every three to four months, I’ve got a new person coming in and I’m re-training them about my business, and I spend so much time telling them what my needs are versus somebody coming and just knowing them. Talk to me about people within an OMD department.

Sure, well, obviously, we’re keenly aware of that, and we work really hard to keep our folks here. I can never guarantee that our people are gonna stay forever and I don’t think that our clients would want them to stay forever. We have great retention here but when people do leave, I think there’s an appreciation on the client side as well, that the knowledge that’s contained here is institutional, it’s not embedded just in one person, that it’s team knowledge. So when one member of that team leaves, it’s not then up to the client to explain everything back to the agency again that library of knowledge didn’t just walk out the door. It’s much more people on the team here than just one person.

Sure, I, I think my… My last question is probably the question I hear the most. And in fact, it’s a question I myself asked ’cause I was a Senior Director of Marketing.

Taste great, or less filling? Is it that one?

It’s a… Its Pepsi Zero.. I was a head of marketing for a national company, and I was seeking to fill a position, and I was looking at OMD and I was looking at the an FTE full-time employee and OMD was fascinating to me. The idea of an entire department versus a single person, but I kept coming back to the singular question that I hear all the time from other people, and I talk about OMD is, “how can an outsource marking department really understand my business”, my business is so unique, my business is my own. Can an OMD truly understand and then be a part of my business?

You know, obviously my answer is yes, we do it all the time. More importantly, listen to some of the testimonials from our clients. And I think what you’ll hear from them is not just them saying “they gave me really creative ideas” or “they responded to my needs very quickly.” You’ll hear that but what you really hear from them is they understood my business and in some ways because we work with so many different businesses, I would say, we actually help some of our clients understand their business, even a little bit better, not because we know it, but because the questions that we ask them in our process of working together cause them to think about their business in ways that maybe they hadn’t ever done before. We recently brought on a new client and one of our questions was, “well what’s the lifetime val… what’s the average lifetime value of your customer? “Wow, I don’t know, we never really thought to do that before.” Okay, so we’re working on that, then we asked, what is the acquisition? What’s the average acquisition cost for a new customer? “Well, I hadn’t really done that before either.” And these were important benchmarks for us to understand as a part of our work and keeping score and giving them a scoreboard, and the questions that enabled them to start developing some of those numbers has, in many ways, transformed the way they think about their business. That’s not us, being knowledgeable about the plumbing, electrical, business on to us being knowledgeable, and really helping them to understand how many of our other clients, are keeping score

And this is, it’s gotta come back to that core value of yours at RSM of curiosity and it sounds like it very much feels those questions.

Sure, and my partner is fond of saying, I don’t remember where it comes from, that. Any three people make a genius. I think the idea that you’re gonna expect a person to be the single-minded genius from which everything flows is unrealistic and risky. Having that diverse set of knowledge and a diversified skill set across a whole team of folks, it not only gives you the upside of greater thinking and greater experience, it also diminishes the downside of people being out, people moving on, people getting sick, people going on vacation. The vehicle keeps moving. Going back to where we started, right? The vehicle keeps moving. So for a long…

We’re still on our road trip,

Why I wish? Where are we doing this next Santa Fe how about that?

Well, I appreciate you coming on this road, ship with me today.

Alright, hey, thanks Ryan.

Thank you.

Thanks for listening to another episode of the outsource market, department podcast, your source for all things OMD. If you have questions over the topics cover today, or suggestions for a future topic and I follow the link in the description of this episode. I’m Ryan Gates and I’ll see you next time.




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