B2B Marketing is a fast-changing space. The opportunities and challenges of evolving technology continue to drive the industry forwards. Looking for the best way to keep pace? Enter, Marketing-as-a-Service.
The concept of Marketing-as-a-Service (MaaS) may sound unusual at first, but in fact, marketing is a natural fit for the as-a-service model. With more and more businesses moving to as-a-service models, the world of anything-as-a-service (XaaS) is here, and marketing naturally follows suit.
Now more than ever before, buyers want flexibility. That means they expect contracts to be flexible in a way that reflects their own dynamic environments. Managed services fit in here too. Although as-a-service models aren’t new, advances in digital technology and understanding are making them simpler and more comprehensive than ever before.
Marketing-as-a-Service is the future of B2B marketing, and within this blog, we’ll examine precisely what it is and how it differs from companies’ pre-existing marketing options. We’ll also drill down into the business scenarios where MaaS is especially suited.
What is MaaS?
You’re probably well aware of software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), or infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). All of these provide comprehensive but flexible offerings through “digital-first” channels, generally on a subscription basis, in a way that’s increasingly hassle-free for the customer. In fact, the acronym “XaaS” reflects the fact that digital infrastructure has developed enough to allow this style of business to spread beyond the purely IT/Tech base of the original as-a-service concepts.
In short, MaaS provides you with the equivalent of an in-house marketing team, on-demand. When you think about what a full in-house marketing team looks like, you can easily imagine the various skilled experts who would make it up: marketing strategists & executives, content creators, web developers, SEO experts, digital marketing specialists, and more. Marketing-as-a-Service allows you to access all of these experts without having to invest in the time and money of creating your own team.
But wait… Is MaaS actually new?
Good question. To explain, it’s worth thinking about the different B2B marketing options that a company faces as it grows and the key differentiators MaaS offers:
1. Freelancers – Freelancers can be a great option if you’re looking for workforce flexibility within your marketing endeavours, but they do require management and admin. They also require someone on-team who can understand what needs to be done and whether or not the freelancers are doing it to the desired standard. In addition, someone needs to find and recruit freelancers, assess their level of skill and competence, and then negotiate for and monitor their (ongoing) work.
2. Marketing Consultants – Marketing consultants can bring a host of expertise and experience to your business. They can help build a strategy and tell you what you need to do, but unfortunately, that’s where their services end. Execution is up to you (or the freelancers you hire, or other options such as an agency or an in-house team).
3. In-house Marketing Team – In-house teams are an excellent option if you have the money, time, and expertise/experience to plan, find, and hire who you need. However, as with any full-time employees, there’s the risk that the in-house team will be either under-worked or over-worked during intense periods of marketing (such as product launches, big campaigns, big trade fairs, etc).
4 – Marketing Agency – When hearing about MaaS for the first time, it’s natural to ask, “How’s this different from a digital marketing agency?” Because bringing in an external marketing agency is, in fact, fairly similar to choosing a MaaS solution. But there are key differences to keep in mind. Although both offer many of the same benefits, and many marketing agencies could be considered MaaS, the difference lies in how the outside team engages with you. Some agencies tend to work on long-term contracts or on a project-by-project basis. In contrast, other agencies will adopt the MaaS model, and be able to offer a much more flexible rolling contract, allowing for long-term planning and strategy.
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The Benefits of MaaS
MaaS allows a combination of flexibility alongside long-term strategic planning, without disrupting the momentum of those plans. This flexibility is critical as modern-day marketing requires a wide range of specialist expertise. Among other areas, this includes:
- Strategy & research
- Technical research & various forms of SEO planning
- Content creation & design
- Paid search, paid social & organic social
- Tracking & analytics
Even for large companies with deep marketing budgets, building an experienced internal team that can quickly deliver on all of the above can be a recruitment (and then administrative) headache. Because of this, most businesses could probably benefit from engaging a MaaS provider. Especially if that provider offers a choice of packages, from strategy, to particular elements of the marketing suite, to whatever else may be available. The flexibility benefit of MaaS extends to the unpredictable nature of businesses. A business may encounter change or events out of their control that affect their priorities or budget, MaaS providers accommodate this by allowing flexibility with their strategies, planning and contracts.
Having said this, MaaS can be especially useful for:
- Startups that need targeted marketing but lack the budget or time to build a team
- SMEs that are launching a new product with new marketing requirements
- Businesses that are looking to add on or pivot to a new marketing direction or plug an in-house marketing expertise gap
- Companies who have hit a “growth wall” and need a fresh boost to help generate new leads and develop new customer experiences
- Leaders who have taken a strategic decision to grow their company’s marketing but don’t have the know-how or experience to recruit and retain the right kind of marketing team
- Companies who have been using marketing freelancers and are trying to move beyond the headaches that organising and managing freelancers can occasionally bring
- Businesses in the exploratory phase of developing their product/service offerings who wish to test an audience with full marketing support. All the while maintaining the flexibility to pull back or pivot if and when necessary
MaaS means flexible, subscription-based contracts that include the complicated expertise for planning, execution, and/or tracking that modern marketing entails.
MaaS in the context of XaaS
The increasing prevalence of the internet and the power of digital communications and delivery channels are driving growth in as-a-service trends in the B2B and B2C markets. No matter the target market, XaaS business models are defined by their subscription-based nature, their digital-first approach, and their ability to remove complexity for the client altogether.
Modern marketing is already digital-first in its delivery. This means that marketing services can often be delivered on behalf of clients remotely. MaaS provides a flexible range of digital-first subscription-based service offerings that are easily digestible and simplified for the client.
This doesn’t mean that the more traditional marketing offerings outlined above will disappear. On the contrary, where necessary, MaaS can complement and support these offerings. It’s this flexibility that makes MaaS so exciting.
Why? Well, as businesses and their industries continue to digitalise, both in their internal and external-facing operations, there’s massive potential for MaaS to grow in potential and uptake. The flexibility and easy “pick-and-choose” subscription service that MaaS providers give to their clients perfectly suits businesses’ growing range of needs.
Success = Finding the Right MaaS Partner
Getting MaaS to work for you is all about finding the right provider that can work with your team, whether that be your leadership or a pre-existing in-house marketing team. What you need is for MaaS to be easy, freeing up your time and focus to concentrate on other business areas.
At Gripped, we have built up an expert team that lives and breathes the kind of flexibility and specialisation that MaaS requires. We specialise in working with B2B businesses, helping shape their strategy and growth. To that end, we deliver ongoing digital sales and marketing strategies to improve your business wherever and however we can.
Want to discover how MaaS can unlock your business’s growth potential? Book your free growth audit today.