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Outsourced marketing in Ancient Rome? – Sound the horns because it’s Throwback Thursday! #tbt

If you haven’t been living under a rock all your life, you’re already familiar with the Ancient Roman Empire in at least some respect – the myths, the gladiators, the Colosseum, not to mention good ol’ Julius Caesar. These days, the age-old civilization is often equated with all the glory that comes along with sexy movies and TV drama. And I’m certainly not one to judge. Without question, Rome was ogle-worthy indeed – an extensive, thriving and exceedingly rich powerhouse for countless reasons.

But what most people don’t realize is this: the Roman Empire ultimately outsourced their work to imperialized societies, far from anything which could be considered ‘in-house’ production.

Today, outsourced marketing is a great way to efficiently accomplish goals, develop game-changing creative strategies, and gain valuable input from an objective party – Let alone make time for the zillions of other tasks you have on your plate as a marketer! But that’s only if you approach outsourced marketing with the right best practices in mind.

Needless to say, do not do as the Romans did.

Unfortunately for the Mediterranean conquerors, they failed to manage their resources, ravaged themselves ragged by way of civil war, and relied on disloyal labor in order to keep their economy in check. Yet, with that said, the fall of Rome does provide some eye-opening insight for the modern marketer.

You know what they say – steal from the best and make it your own. Let’s examine some of Ancient Rome’s crippling business blunders and pinpoint the effective ways you should spin them into your own outsourced marketing strategy.

Roman Ruin #1 

By the time Caesar Augustus was in charge, Rome had essentially outsourced nearly all agricultural production to North Africa and Egypt, sacrificing any independent means of sustaining itself long-term. Come on Caesar, where was the strategic planning?

Best Practice: Assess your marketing bandwidth and inventory your current assets. What resources do you have available in terms of time, money, and personnel? What tasks can be more efficiently completed by outsourcing? Moreover, what is it that you really need from an outsourced marketing company?

According to Content Marketing Institute, the most common outsourced marketing tasks are content writing and design. 62% of companies outsourced content marketing in 2012, a 7% increase from just one year prior. So, overextended marketers, you are not alone.  It’s just important to manage your project scope, clearly establish what you’d like to achieve, and thoroughly discuss your goals with any firms you might be interviewing for the job!

Roman Ruin #2: 

Ever hear of Roman fanfare? Unfortunately, the emperor's shining personality and clangorous music weren’t enough to hold the empire together overseas. Communication with remote territories was limited to orders, laws and decrees. There was no joint goal setting, and certainly no forum to be found.

Best Practice: Ensure your mutual expectations are clear. Facilitate good communication. And be on time. When aligning with an outsourced marketing firm, all of these factors play a significant part in maintaining a successful working relationship.  Set aside time to clarify your goals and what each side can expect from the other. A marketing firm’s bells and whistles count for nothing if they don’t have a record of responsibility to back them up.

It’s always a good idea to develop a system and format for communicating before catapulting right into the projects. Weekly email summaries, regular phone conferences, routine monthly face time, a combination of the three… all viable options! – Just remember to lay out the strategy before assignments are delegated. And most importantly, establish deadlines and make sure both you and your outsourced marketing team stick to them.

Roman Ruin #3: 

Ancient Rome’s ceaseless civil war affliction strained resources and increased costs. It also resulted in the premature deaths of many an ambushed emperor. As soldiers were drawn away to civil disputes, raids of foreign tribes attacked the once sprawling cities. There was no unity, and there was no trust.

Best Practice: Designate a reliable marketing leader or Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). For the most positive results, an outsourced marketing company fulfills this role, owning all major decisions (with your critical involvement, of course). But to set up for success, you need to be able to trust your outsourced marketing team to do their jobs and make decisions on behalf of your company. Confidence is key.

The majority of the most effective B2B marketers (86%) have someone who oversees content marketing strategy, while only 46% of less effective marketers do. Joining forces with an outsourced ally will make this process all the easier. Keep an eye out for agencies who relate well to your company culture, who demonstrate experience in your industry, and above all, who share the values and ideals of your business.

Roman Ruin #4:

The Roman economy depended not on its citizens or allies with vested interests, but on slaves and servants of rich estate holders. This wasn’t exactly a healthy partnership.

Best Practice: Hire an outsourced marketing firm to work with you. Yes, thorough communication is a must, but avoid dominating the work or micromanaging each task. If this is the case, outsourcing to an agency may not be the right choice for you (and perhaps hiring a full-time intern or freelancer is wise instead).

However, don’t be afraid to share your industry insights, expert knowledge, and company practices with your newfound partner. And embrace the creative process! Rome wasn’t built in a day. And not every marketing tactic is going to work every time. So be patient and understand a foundation for the new work must be created first. Your outsourced marketing firm wants nothing more than for you to be successful and delighted. Provide your honest feedback and always continue to engage.

In sum, the marketing landscape has come a long way since chariot races and tiger pits. As a B2B outsourced marketing firm ourselves, we know outsourcing is a decision that requires thoughtful evaluation and consultation. We’re here when you’re ready. Let us know if we can partner up and help!

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Historical information repurposed from

About the Author

Oren Smith | Marketing Manager
Oren Smith, Marketing Manager

Oren Smith—our resident Marketing Manager and data geek... *ahem* expert—has been heading up PMG's marketing for 5+ years. Between stretches of content writing and inbound strategy, you might find him planning his next adventure abroad or enjoying a good, old-fashioned lobster roll.

 Tags: Outsourced Marketing

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