Tag: skills

In-house or outsourcing: keeping Marketing in the family or farming it out

I was recently at a seminar where we debated the merits of using a consultancy firm to deliver brand development, versus keeping it in-house.

Choosing whether to outsource the marketing function, projects or tasks, or manage it in-house, is a decision faced by most organisations at some point. The key to making the right choice, in my view, lies in asking the following questions:

1. Do we have the right mix of skills at the right level?

Sometimes a skill is needed for just a short period of time. For example initial brand development is often a one-off activity and a business could be better off employing someone with transferable marketing skills rather than a brand development expert, drawing on the expert at certain times. If the project or task at hand requires a skill set that you don’t already possess in-house and the business can’t or isn’t willing to gear up to fill gaps, you’re almost left with no option but to outsource.

If the organisation employs the right sort of people but they don’t have the influence or decision making ability needed ‘in the moment’, then outsourcing is definitely the better option. But don’t forget, managing an agency is a special skill all of its own and if not done well, can be as resource intensive as managing in-house delivery.

2. Can we be creative enough?

It takes time to be creative. It also takes space.

In-house marketing and design can become stale simply because we don’t have the head-space to give the creative process the treatment it deserves. We’re too busy ‘doing the day job’ to come up with anything new or different. If a project or your marketing strategy needs a creative kick, a consultancy firm can often be your knight in shining armour.

3. Does the ‘problem’ need a fresh pair of eyes?

If you stare at a circle for long enough, it can start to look like a square. An outsider looking in can be just what you need if you’re looking to change direction.

Consultants can also be very useful for telling the Board or your senior team something they may not want to hear. Feedback from outside the business can evoke a very different response to the same message given internally. Using consultants sparingly but at the right moments in time can often give a much needed nudge.

4. Does the context we’re working in mean only we can make the right decisions?

All companies have their quirks. Sometimes businesses can be so complex that it would take longer to communicate the nuances to an outsider than it would to deliver what is needed in-house.

In the case of the long view a good relationship with a consultancy firm who get to know your business well enough to overcome the quirks but still provide innovative approaches, can pay back dividends. If your business is full of obstacles and the project you’re working on is short term, it may be that in-house delivery is the most efficient route.

5. Does our culture lend itself to outsourcing?

The bigger a company gets the less likely it is that there will be a need to outsource marketing (or any function for that matter).

Size aside, some organisations are simply better at outsourcing than others. And some organisations are better at knowing what marketing will work for them and how to recruit the best talent to get the job done in-house.

For outsourcing to work, the organisation’s culture needs to be one where relationships with suppliers are open and transparent and decisions can be made in good time. A good agency will tell you things you didn’t know. It will also tell you things you didn’t even realise you needed to know! Culturally, you need to gear up to act on this valuable information.

Managing marketing in-house and outsourcing it both have a place depending on the context. Essentially if you employ good marketing managers they’ll be able to manage the process either way.

I’d love to hear your view. Leave me a comment…


It’s Time to Skill Up!

I haven’t written for a while because I have been completely maxed out working with Bournville College in the delivery of a ‘readiness for work’ programme for new Tesco employees.  These new staff have all been unemployed for a long while during the recession but are now due to begin work at the Tesco partnership store in Washwood Heath, Birmingham in January 2010.

I was training in time management, team work and customer service. I’ve really enjoyed delivering the programme and met some really lovely people. The thing that struck me though was the lack of functional or core skills that some adults simply don’t possess. 

I’m talking about basic numeracy and literacy and having looked into the national ‘problem’ that we face by being under-skilled in these key areas it made me realise firstly how easy it is to ‘slip through the net’ as an adult and come up with coping strategies so that our skills gap will never be found out; and secondly how important having at least Level 2 is for adult learners who are studying a specialist subject such as marketing.

If you are studying a subject at a level higher than 2 (equivalent to GCSE) you should have at least level 2 Maths and English.  This is because it is likely that your qualification (and this is especially the case with CIM) will require you to read and summarise information, write in prose, take part in discussions and give presentations.  With regard to Maths skills you may need to interpret information such as market data; you might have to do calculations with that data and then interpret the results in order to make marketing decisions.

 If you would like to look in to this further here is a good link that contains diagnostic tests:  http://rwp.excellencegateway.org.uk/readwriteplus/DiagnosticMaterialsLiteracy

You can also look at the Directgov website:  http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/EducationAndLearning/AdultLearning/DG_069046