Questions to ask before outsourcing

Questions to Ask Yourself before Outsourcing

Thinking about outsourcing creative and/or content? At a recent San Diego roundtable, members discussed some of things you might need to consider first.

On a good day, marketing can be a tough job. Throw in managing organizational design and remote teams, and you might find yourself lost in translation.

Do in-house teams give you more control over the process? Do agencies create more innovative work? Do remote teams work more efficiently? Do reliable, talented freelancers even exist?

Sometimes, you just need to ask someone who’s been there. And, during a recent San Diego Roundtable Discussion, that’s exactly what CMO Club members did. While discussing how to build brand equity, members talked about the challenges and solutions they have found while managing content teams – whether in-house or outsourced. Here are some of the questions that got brought up during the conversation:

Does your team already have all of the resources needed to create the best work?

CMOs weren’t talking about team members here, but rather what tools they have to do the job. One reason frequently cited for outsourcing work to agencies or freelancers (or a mix of the two), is because they are simply pros at what they do. For one CMO, the ability to tap into specialized individuals that had better resources for the exact tasks he needed was a selling point for moving creative functions outside of the organization.

That being said, it is crucial to outsource to people that understand your brand vision and goals. Working with a team that is equal parts talented and informed about your business is an important part of having a successful relationship.

Speaking of – can you clearly articulate your brand, it’s purpose and what you want to achieve?

It may seem like these are the exact things you are outsourcing a team to do for you, but that is only a small piece of it. When working with a team that isn’t in your home office, you need to create a sense of unity that gets all parties on brand, excited and passionate about the project – beyond treating your company like just another item on the to-do list. You may be leaving innovative ideas up to the creatives, but it’s important to establish benchmarks and the data that you will be using to define success.

Conversely, when bringing your creative work internally, you already know the team has an aligned vision and investment in the organization (and that their office may be just down the hall for quick brainstorm sessions or status updates). The key thing to remember here, is that the organization must play their part in facilitating creativity and keeping the team inspired. Without passion, even the most talented people’s results will start to become monotonous.

Are you Looking for quantity or quality?

Age old sayings may make you feel instinctively inclined to say the latter, but members brought up the valid point that the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Additionally, artfully crafted content means nothing if it is only noticed by a few people – or worse – doesn’t convert.

One marketer’s solution? To create a reverse-content approach that did the exact opposite of everyone else in the marketplace. Instead of producing a 30 or 60-second ad, his team wanted to produce an entire movie – complete with a compelling storyline and product placement in every frame. To get the sheer quantity of people required do this, they had to call on a team of actors, producers, writers, videographers and editors that were experts in their fields and well-known enough in the marketplace to create buzz. In the end, they created a movie that didn’t explicitly mention their product line a single time but never went a frame without showing it in action – receiving millions of views and boosting sales exponentially.

Alternatively, if your company already has established brand recognition in the marketplace and is looking to grow its equity in a highly niched industry or audience, an internal team member may be able to articulate value via quality content much better than any third party.

Is it the goal of the company to centralize or decentralize?

As one CMO mentioned, the question of outsourcing is really more of a question about decentralization of functions.

For companies that are looking for better ways to communicate internally, build unity and own every step of the process, an internal team allows them to collaborate on a personal level that may be lacking with some agency or freelancer relationships. But for organizations that already work with remote teams and multiple brands, outsourcing creative may be just another part of the structure.

Either way, it’s important to remember you are building your team. CMOs highlighted the importance of this in every circumstance, emphasizing the necessity of carefully selecting and interviewing the people that will be telling your brand story – whether they are sitting down the hall from you or part of a remote team. There are talented people that work well in either situation, but their ability (or inability) to align with the brand purpose is paramount. Plus, it will reflect on your ability as a marketer to get out of the weeds and focus on driving growth for your company in other core areas, raising your team and the entire organization to new levels.

As one CMO said: “Build a team so good you elevate yourself in the process.”