When & How To Outsource Mortgage Marketing & Hiring Freelancers Vs Agencies

by Aidan Paringer

There comes a time in every mortgage broker’s career where the business has grown to a point where you can no longer do it all by yourself. It’s no longer possible to stack on some extra hours to take care of the extra things anymore because there simply is just no additional time to stack on. One common place loan officers find themselves in this situation is when it comes to marketing.

We all know that marketing can never stop, but when there just isn’t time to focus on non-closing related tasks, what do you do? You outsource your marketing campaigns.

You can also check out our article on how to get the most out of your mortgage marketing budget in 2020 here.

When You Should Considering Outsourcing Your Marketing Campaigns

Look at your business as a whole when you are trying to decide if it’s time to outsource. The first thing you need to look at is how busy you are and what you are spending your time doing. If you audit your daily schedule and realize there are lots of ancillary things you really shouldn’t be filling your time with, consider cutting those out of your schedule. If doing that gives you enough time to handle your client’s deals and continue your marketing responsibilities, it’s not time to outsource yet.

But, if you review your day to day schedule and come to the conclusion that all your working minutes are spent working on deals for clients and closing deals with leads that are in your pipeline, outsourcing your marketing to keep that flow of leads in your pipeline and deals converting is exactly what you need to consider.

How To Outsource Your Marketing Campaigns

The first and most critical step of outsourcing your marketing is finding the right agency or freelancer to work with. This is not a step you want to rush through. There are specific pros and cons to working with each kind of entity, so you need to examine your needs and ensure you are making the choice that works best for you.

Freelancer Pros:

Flexibility – Hiring a freelancer doesn’t lock you into a long-term marketing contract an agency might require. This will give you the flexibility to grow the role as needed or remove the role should you decide it may actually be too early to outsource marketing. 

Specialization – Freelancers tend to have specific specialties. You can use these specialties to pinpoint the needs you have for your mortgage campaigns and focus on those that have the exact skill set(s) you are looking for.

Cost Savings – Freelancers generally work at rates that are lower than what an agency would charge. Agencies generally have a bunch of fixed costs (e.g. building lease, payroll, etc.), so they cannot be as competitive with pricing structures as freelancers can.

Freelancer Cons:

Vetting – When you hire a freelancer, you are responsible for vetting the actual people that are doing the work. This can be time-consuming.

Workload – By their nature, freelancers are always looking for work, and also working on many different projects for different clients. Sometimes they may be too busy for a certain project and sometimes they may want more projects at once. 

Lack of Supervision – Unlike having an employee, or working with an agency, a freelancer generally works remotely. So there’s truly no way to know whether or not 2 of those 10 hours your freelancer billed were spent working hard or scrolling through Instagram and watching YouTube videos. This isn’t to say all, or even most, freelancers do this, but without supervision, immediate motivation often takes a backseat to leisure.

Agency Pros:

Vetting – When you hire an agency, the employees that are going to actually be performing the marketing work have all already been vetted.

Workload – Agencies scale as their client account demands rise. There is less risk of having to deal with sharing available man-hours with other companies.

Turnkey Opportunities: If your marketing campaigns require multiple disciplines, it’s much more likely an agency can turnkey your campaign versus a freelancer. So you only have to hire a single source instead of multiple freelancers to carry out your campaigns.

Agency Cons:

Expense – Agencies are almost always more expensive than a freelancer.

Commitment – Unlike freelancers that you can’t just hire or let go as needed, most reputable agencies will require some sort of contract & commitment.

Outsourcing Hiring Tips

Determine What You Need

Now that you’ve decided whether you want to go with a freelancer or an agency, you need to 

Start the interview process to decide the person/agency you will hire. Start with determining the requirements of your campaign by mapping out what your campaign will look like. Detail each piece of your campaign and what services will be needed to complete that piece.

For instance, let’s say your campaign revolves around loan programs that are available to people in the nursing profession. If you determine that one part of your campaign is going to be content marketing (blog articles) to help educate your target audience about these programs and make you the expert in their minds in this space, the services that would be required would be a writer to plan and write the articles, a social media manager to amplify the content online, and perhaps a paid ads specialist that will do targeted campaigns to drive your ideal potential clients directly to your content.

You want to repeat this process for every part of your campaign. Going through this exercise and determining these services will help you develop a shortlist of freelancers or agencies that you think will be best for your needs.

Consider Your Budget

Unfortunately, everyone has a budget. This is never truer than when you are just starting out with outsourcing your marketing work. While it might be tempting to try and hire a freelancer or an agency for the least amount of money possible, resist this temptation. The ideal formula for outsourcing is to get a good mix of value for money spent.

To determine this, you need to have a realistic conversation with each freelancer or agency about their services, what their fees are and what you get for those fees. Armed with that information, you can make a determination on who is going to give you the best value for the dollar amount you have available to spend on outsourcing and the demands your campaign requires. You do get what you pay for, but top dollar freelancers may not be the best value.

PRO TIP: Most skilled marketing agencies can find ways to optimize some of the things you are doing and actually save you money. So even if one particular part of your campaign might cost more than you are hoping for, look at the overall picture before you make a determination.

Turnkey Is Almost Always The Best Solution

Having a full-service, turnkey marketing agency, or a freelancer that can turnkey all your marketing needs is almost always the right decision. The main reason is it streamlines things and saves you time (after all, time is one of the main reasons you are looking to outsource in the first place).

Imagine if you hired one person to write your content, then another one to create your social media campaigns and yet another one to run your paid digital ads? That is going to end up being a ton of phone calls you need to be on, and also scheduling and coordination between separate parties that is simply going to take up too much time. 

Rather than having to communicate with multiple parties, find one that can fulfill all your needed services under one roof. It will keep you from going insane and it will most likely end up saving you money as bundled services always end up being less expensive than a la carte services. Most people and agencies online nowadays specialize in multiple areas and can handle multiple connected tasks at once.

Do Your Due Diligence

Trust is the most important component of your decision; however, it is the most commonly overlooked. This is super important and should go without saying, but remember this: There may be something an agency or freelancer is hiding, or perhaps the pricing is too good to be true, or something else that doesn’t make you feel quite right. If this is the case, trust your gut and keep looking! Full transparency between yourself and the agency or freelancer you are working with should be an absolute requirement.

Search for reviews and ask for recommendations from previous clients. This will aid you in your decision and ensure you are making the right one. Pick up the phone and call their past clients. Ask them about their experience working with the agency. You will be surprised at how willing people are to share with you about their own experiences with outsourced businesses.

It’s also okay to ask an agency or freelancer to show you actual campaigns they are running for other brands and the results they are getting. Begin by telling them the results you are looking for from the campaign you are planning and ask them to show you campaigns that they feel are similar. If you are interviewing someone and they can’t show you results from a similar campaign they may either be inexperienced in the type of campaign you are looking to do, or are hiding poor campaign results.

Communication Is Critical

One important thing to remember is that you’ve been eyeballs deep in these marketing campaigns quite possibly for years. You know them inside and out and nobody understands them better than you. When you bring on an agency or freelancer to help you with your marketing efforts, you need to remember that and not simply assume they will know something because it is “obvious to everyone”.

The truth is it probably isn’t obvious to everyone and because of that, you need to make sure to clearly communicate your needs and expectations, upfront, to ensure this relationship is a success. 

There is a wealth of information you’ll want to give them at your launch to make sure everyone is on the same page. Specifically, you want to be sure to communicate:

  • Your Brand Story
  • Target Audience (Buyer Personas)
  • Brand’s Voice (Share previous content you’ve developed)
  • Things about your current strategy you are open to considering changing
  • Things about your current strategy that are non-negotiable

Follow These Steps And Hire Successfully

These steps may seem like a lot of work just to outsource your marketing efforts, but take care upfront to do your research, consider your options and communicate your needs. Doing this from the start will greatly reduce the risks of anything going wrong and help ensure your marketing campaigns fill your pipelines and allow you to do more business than ever before.

Aidan Paringer
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