Why outsourcing is still relevant.

With many larger brands working to bring their digital and creative teams in house, both successfully and unsuccessfully, our Head of Commercial, Ivan Gibson makes the case for outsourcing.

I’ll start with a simple question: Are you a marketing company? If the answer is yes, then this isn’t an article for you. This is a piece for brands whose business relies on marketing to thrive.

I talk off the back of several years’ experience working for an outsourced sales and marketing company, particularly in the B2B technology space, marketing and selling on behalf of the biggest household names on the planet.

Our approach was simple: “Hey Mr. Dell, is Dell a sales and marketing company? No? What do you do? Oh you make hardware? Cool, we specialise in sales and marketing. How about you focus on what you do really well, and you let us do what we do really well, for you?”

The real life conversations were obviously delivered with a little more finesse and complexity, but the general idea is there; if it’s not what your company does, but you need to spend resources on it, why not spend it on specialists so you can focus on what you do best? One of the most common responses to that question is “it’s too expensive to outsource”, and there’s some truth to that. Hour-for-hour, yes, it can be more expensive, but it sure as hell provides a lot more value.

Well, what’s the difference?

Taking my example above, we’d usually come in at about 35% more than an in-sourced person, but we’d provide on average 300% higher results; leads, meetings, recruited channel partners, closed revenue. Not only that, but we took away virtually all the overhead time incurred by recruiting, upskilling, and management and reporting, which meant that we’d actually come in well under the full cost to the business, while delivering much better results.

At Many, we work with retail brands, a lot of them. Fashion, FMCG, electronics, anything B2C. Interestingly, a surprising number of those brands have, at some point, described themselves as “marketing” brands. This is where it’s important to make a distinction; retail brands rely on marketing to operate and thrive, but are not marketing companies in themselves. Working in the digital marketing space for retail therefore puts us in the same mindset as the Dell scenario above. “Focus on running an amazing retail business with exceptional customer experiences, and we’ll take care of everything else” – this, of course, means outsourcing.

Now, digital marketing encompasses A LOT of areas that are crucial to retail in the era of social and traffic conversion; Social Media, Community Management, Email Marketing, Video Marketing, SEO, blogging, even web design and build. Even the smallest retail organisation needs to tap into multiple areas of digital marketing to remain competitive, and some have to leverage all of them. The difficulty of insourcing for smaller brands lies in finding individuals who are competent at ALL of them (we call these double-headed flying unicorns in the business), while coming in on a usually tight budget – on top of hiring/salary costs, there’s a sizeable chunk of that same budget that needs to go to media spend. Not only do you need a double-headed flying unicorn, you also need them to be great at media buying.


See where I’m going with this?

When outsourced, digital marketing becomes far simpler; it’s effectively a marketing budget pot that you can draw out of, depending on your requirements. If you’ve chosen the right digital partner, not only will they be able to cater to all those disciplines, they’ll also likely have SPECIALISTS for each of those areas, AND have either an “in”, or some very niche knowledge on how to spend a media budget extremely effectively; it’s the equivalent of having a consistent 10-person expert digital marketing team, on flexible hours, with a depth of industry knowledge. In essence, perfect scalability, fit-to-budget.

There’s one more benefit: there’s zero management time overhead, an oft-overlooked and ultimately highly costly element of running a digital marketing team. This tends to be overseen by senior management, whose time is precious and effectively the most expensive internal non-billable resource. Which leads back to consistency; if you decide to bank on a single internal resource, and they up and leave on short notice, it can leave your roadmap in tatters, make you lose momentum, and potentially require you to change your entire marketing strategy based on the resource you end up hiring to replace them. Not so with an external agency, and this allows for a higher degree of accountability over the long term.

And you don’t even have to worry about sick days or holidays.

It’s the equivalent of having a consistent 10-person expert digital marketing team, on flexible hours, with a depth of industry knowledge. In essence, perfect scalability, fit-to-budget.

So what are the benefits of insourcing?

Insourcing becomes far more interesting at scale, when an organisation needs and can afford a multi-disciplined team that can deliver decent value/ROI. There is a middle ground, which is a hybrid model, a number of which we have seen work well. Keeping one of social/email/community management alongside an external development team or SEO partner allows for resilience and agility, while encouraging cross-pollination of ideas and techniques, which helps small businesses become increasingly more mature in their internal marketing processes. So, for small businesses, there’s very rarely any benefit.

Equally, outsourcing Social Media and Community Management (both extremely time-consuming disciplines), while keeping a traditional marketing/creative team in-house also allows brands to utilise their most creative minds to their full potential, taking away the hassle of being ever-present and the oh-so-painful engagement and performance reports (i.e. your creative director will be able to do their job – be creative.)

Ok this makes sense, but what should I be outsourcing?

Great question, wise reader. Like in high fashion there’s no such thing as one size fits all in digital marketing. The most important thing to keep in mind is that outsourcing should make you feel like your campaigns are being run while you run your business. Let’s start a conversation and we’ll find out how we can make it happen for you!

Interested in taking this further?

To discuss how an outsourced creative team can work alongside your brand, speak to us.

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