Should You Outsource Advertising and Marketing Production?

Should You Outsource Advertising and Marketing Production?Because I work for an outsourcing company, I know first-hand that outsourcing continues to be a popular management tool in 2010 with no signs of slowing down in the near future.  Companies are dealing with the global recession and working to focus on their core competencies.  I see on a daily basis that, in both the private and public sector, organizations are increasingly turning over various internal functions to outside providers in order to reduce costs, improve efficiency and increase flexibility.

Although ad agencies, marketing services firms, commercial printers, newspapers and retailers and companies in a variety of other vertical markets have been employing this practice for some time, the outsourcing of advertising and marketing production is still a new concept to many organizations.  You should see the glazed-over look I get when I explain what I do at cocktail parties or talk to other parents at my kids’ sporting activities!

The reality is that we all outsource every single day.  Does your company use a payroll service?  Who runs your cafeteria?  Is that security guard in the lobby an employee of yours?  Do you have a service to mow your lawn and when was the last time you washed your own car?  Granted, outsourcing of advertising and marketing production involves a function that’s more complex and mission-critical than trimming hedges, but you get the idea.

Now every company does some amount of advertising and marketing production, whether in-house or through a vendor. You design your company logo, create business cards for your employees, have a website, maybe emails or newsletters that you send out to customers or other stakeholders, case studies or product specs, print collateral such as brochures or flyers, or other business document that require some design effort.  Some companies have in-house designers who do this; many work with external vendors or contractors.

The big question is:  how do you know if outsourcing advertising and marketing production on a large scale will work for your company?

The answer is to look at the nature, contribution and capability for advertising and marketing production within your organization.

  1. Is production of marketing and advertising designs a non-core competency function for your company?
  2. Is design production a problem, distraction or irritant to the organization?
  3. Can design services be turned into a revenue-generating function (i.e., a service provided to your customers for a profit)?
  4. Has a competitor or group of competitors chosen to outsource this function?
  5. Does your organization lack important capabilities for the current marketing and advertising environment for print or online?
  6. Are design production services viewed by your organization as cost centers?
  7. Are there current cost-saving initiatives in the organization?
  8. Are IT teams stretched thin and budgets for software and equipment capital limited to support marketing and advertising?
  9. Are there peaks and valleys in demand for design production?
  10. Is speed to market of critical concern to your company?
  11. Do current turn times meet the needs of internal and external customers?
  12. Are performance measures, operational benchmarks, processes, costs and expectations clearly defined in the advertising and marketing area?
  13. Do existing teams incorporate best practices?
  14. Is it difficult to find the personnel and skills needed?
  15. Is turnover among these employees high?

If you answered “yes” more than five times, chances are good that it would be worthwhile for your company to conduct a more detailed evaluation with outside vendors.

You have nothing to lose by getting some outside advice.  Plus, you might even find some easy improvements that can be made by your team immediately or get free advice from providers that can have a positive effect in the short-term. (And here are some more benefits that you stand to gain.)

If you decide that outsourcing is right for you, find a vendor who understands your objectives and will work with you to get there. Ideally, you will find a partner who supports and complements your organization.

This is what our contact at a major telecommunications company said about us:

I think the Affinity Express creative grasp for client requirements goes beyond exceeding the brief.  They take it to a level of partnership, which brings a meaningful experience of collaboration and effective communication among client, the target market and Affinity Express itself.

What has your experience been with outsourcing?  Have you evaluated and implemented it?  Or maybe you discovered it wasn’t the right path for your company?  I look forward to your comments.

Next week: what to do after you make the decision to outsource.

About Kelly Glass
Kelly has been vice president of Marketing at Affinity Express for nine years now. She drives company strategy and all marketing activities.

One Response to Should You Outsource Advertising and Marketing Production?

  1. Pingback: 100th Blog Post « Affinity Express Blog

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