As many organisations across Australia look ahead to challenging economic conditions, our recent research has found that traditional senior in-house and agency marketing roles are in jeopardy. Nearly half (47%) of the SME CEOs and business leaders surveyed are looking to remove current in-house marketing roles and instead, opting for outsourced more cost-effective alternatives, while nearly one third (30%) have shut down their entire marketing activity altogether.

This research was carried out as part of our recent industry white paper, which considers what the future will be for marketing leadership in a post-COVID-19 world. Our research interviewed 100 Australian SME business founders, owners and leaders across a broad range of industries, with both a local and global presence. The purpose of this survey was to understand their pre and post Covid-19 company working arrangements, primarily in terms of who was responsible for their marketing function, whether it was in-house or agency-led, and what the financial impact of the pandemic had been on this part of their operations.

The results have been translated into an in-depth white paper, ‘Why business leaders are turning to Virtual Marketing Management’, which also analyses existing qualitative and quantitative research from third parties such as Gartner and NAB, to provide an insightful analysis around where the future of marketing lies. Our white paper does not sell a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution, as this does not exist. Rather, it introduces the new hybrid approach, Virtual Marketing Management.

The pandemic has seen many organisations, particularly small businesses, reflect and question their marketing spend and consider where they can realistically cut costs without having a detrimental impact on their organisation’s ability to promote their products and services strategically whilst growing their brand. Virtual marketing management throws out the rule book, a new hybrid approach that aims to provide SMEs with the same level of marketing strategy and leadership as their corporate counterparts, for a fraction of the cost.

The Virtual Marketing Manager (VMM) model sits between the 100% agency outsourced and 100% in-house marketing models; a new hybrid approach. By leveraging the business's internal junior marketing resource(s), the VMM manages the marketing from within the business, as opposed to an agency who manages it from outside the business. This enables up to 70% cost savings compared with having the digital marketing manager role in house.

Further to that, in May 2020, a Deloitte Digital and Salesforce Webinar reported that customers are accessing multiple touchpoints during a purchase but there is a significant disconnect within companies. 75% of consumers expect consistent interactions across all departments. However, 58% say that they feel like they’re communicating with separate departments and not one company (Deloitte 2020).

This is a common “missing link” and one that the VMM approach eliminates. Not only will a business have its own VMM overseeing the bigger picture strategy, but they will also have an in-house resource who works on the day-to-day execution, right where the action happens.

In the survey of SME CEOs, 85% of respondents believed that businesses will benefit from this Virtual Marketing Management approach.

We’ve seen how many organisations are still in search of a ‘unicorn marketer’ – but the pandemic has forced many organisations to rethink. We are now seeing a revolution as more business leaders embrace virtual marketing to continue to thrive in an uncertain future.

Other key research findings included:

  • 47% of Australian SME CEOs and business leaders who were operating with an in-house marketing team are now looking for an outsourced marketing option since COVID-19, wishing to operate a leaner business
  • 30% of Australian SME CEOs and business leaders surveyed have had to shut down their marketing activity altogether because they believe they ‘couldn't afford it anymore’
  • 13% of CEOs and business leaders have decided to revert from the traditional marketing agency model since the global pandemic began
  • 85% of respondents believe that businesses will benefit from the new ‘hybrid’ approach: Virtual Marketing Management
  • Being results-focused, cost-effective and integrated with systems and operations were cited as the three most important factors to participants' business’ marketing function

This news release has also been featured within the following publications:


Do you need help with strategic digital marketing for your business?

All you have to do is Ask!

At Ask Digital Marketing, we combine decisive digital strategy and managed marketing execution to help B2B service-based businesses build demand, establish thought leadership and own their industry through digital business marketing.

Stop waiting. Start building. Experience success.

Just get in touch with us and we can discuss your business to help you navigate the digital marketing landscape towards success.

Let’s harness the power of digital marketing today!

For more great marketing content, connect with our company leaders, Alexandra King and Stephanie King, or follow our Ask Marketing LinkedIn page.

Stephanie King

Stephanie brings campaign management and senior analytical capabilities to dissect multi-channel data, providing actionable marketing insights and driving optimal business performance.