It was the Ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates who said “The person who desires something desires what is not available to them.” Of course, that was long before the days of creative production outsourcing. 

The fear of missing out, FOMO, is a phobia that has affected people throughout generations. After all, it’s not uncommon for a Creative Director or CMO to be envious of an industry peer who launched that award-winning media campaign. Perhaps they get green eyed envy at the column inches their competitor gets in the likes of Campaign and Marketing Week. Not to mention your gifted head designer or diligent artworker who gets headhunted. 

The changes are that your closet competitor is secretly outsourcing. According to TKM Consultants Benchmark Report “Delivering Offshore Success” 76% of agencies currently offshore some level of creative production. IHAF reports that 75% of in-house agencies have been offshoring for at least two years. So if you haven’t yet, why not

There are a host of reasons why IHAs and brands are reluctant to outsource or haven’t tried yet. Some are reluctant to adopt outsourcing as a standard business practice as they feel they have the skills in-house. There might be concerns about the impact on the team, external perceptions, will the production partner understand the brand and can control be maintained? 

Outsourcing horrors

Unfortunately there are plenty of outsourcing horror stories that have made the press. Even big brands have been burned by outsourcing mishaps. In 2010 Virgin Atlantic outsourced their IT support to a vendor that quickly resulted in their systems crashing and 50,000 passengers grounded. There is the story of IBM who managed — or mismanaged — a project for the Australian state of Queensland which was expected to cost $6m, but which ended up costing $1.2Bn! There’s also examples of transcreation gone wrong. The HSBC campaign where their slogan was ‘assume nothing’ was translated into ‘do nothing in several countries! Then there is P&G realising they weren’t selling diapers in Japan as the illustration of a baby being carried in a stalk was not part of Japanese culture – and, probably quite terrifying! 

In reality though, the right production partner outsourcing is a valuable addition to your creative department. There are plenty of success stories when it comes to creative production outsourcing. At EKCS we pride ourselves on QC and brand governance. 

Finding the perfect outsourcing partner 

The process of searching for a partner is often reliant on recommendations and referrals, while finding partners through webinars and conferences can also be beneficial. Measure your potential production partner by considering: 

  • Cultural fit and shared vision 
  • Evidence of high-quality work
  • Effective communication
  • The ability to scale up resource
  • Access to 24/7 studios and turnaround times 
  • Relevant industry experience and case studies 
  • Flexible & competitive pricing 

A production partner might also have local account managers. EKCS has an 80/20 mix of onshore and offshore resources. In the US and UK onshore specialists know the industries that clients are operating. 

Start small by offering a production partner a small project or campaign. This enables you to know each other and the new partner to understand current ways of working, ironing out any issues that might only get noticed once the live work starts. 

Total control 

In the examples of outsourcing horrors, many aspects of their failures came down to lack of control by the brand. With a trusted production partner and process you will still be in control. With EKCS, you can continue to use your own workflow system to enable you to see status reports, measure progress and communicate effectively on the projects. There’s the option to use MediaFerry, an award-winning, cloud-based workflow system which enables you to stay in control with a complete overview of the campaign. 

Keeping your in-house creative team happy

Many creative leaders worry about the effect of outsourcing on staff. Remember, creative production outsourcing is about enabling your staff to do more.  It’s not about trying to reduce headcount. Does your artworker really want to resize print adverts or your web developer create multiple banners when they could be working on ideation and other creative elements? Chances are they are consumed by production and as a result, are missing out on bigger creative projects.  It can save time and enable your skilled in-house people to focus on their strengths; ideation, creativity and design.  Keeping creative in-house is fundamental to outsourcing success. 

When creatives are brought into the process early on there are real advantages. ‘Welcome sessions’ where both teams meet and collaborate are essential. Relationship building is fundamental to building trust and the in-house team needs to be embedded early. 

American management consultant, Peter Drucker, wrote in the Harvard Business Review back in the 1980’s, “Do what you do best – and outsource the rest!” However, outsourcing should only ever be a small percentage of your budgets, say 5-15%, but having it there will be a lifesaver at some point. 

The truth about outsourcing

According to the IHAF 2018 State-of-the-Industry Report, 67% of IHAs are not adequately staffed to carry out mass creative production and distribution. Nowadays, many agencies are keeping the creative in-house and offshoring the at-scale or specialist asset production to a trusted partner that can do the job properly, within an agreed timescale.

If you’re suffering from FOMO, the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out, then if you aren’t outsourcing you are. As Socrates also said, “understanding a question is half an answer.” If your competitors are outsourcing, why aren’t you? 

To find out more about outsourcing, download our guide. It looks at the benefits of outsourcing, what to consider in a production partner and tips on how to get started with outsourcing. 

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