Should You Hire or Outsource Your Creative Department?
Campaigns are becoming increasingly complex. Brands now have to appeal to consumers from multiple touch points—each requiring very specialized skills. The idea that a single creative department can do all of this heavy lifting for a major corporation or even a smaller organization with a smaller staff is unrealistic. Here’s the reality: technology changes, creatives leave, and it is unlikely that brands have ready access to team members with expertise in every needed area. The truth is that most brands are already outsourcing a portion of their marketing and advertising. Outsourcing creative teams would serve essentially the same function of affording brands with an extended team that fills in the gaps and offers fresh perspectives to campaigns. Figuring out whether a brand should outsource or hire a creative department certainly depends upon several factors: budget, expertise, accountability, and the brand’s goals.
If you can’t show the money, outsource.
Since creative agencies are only paid for time on-task, they are a cost-saving option between projects. Also, since they don’t command benefits or tax deductions, they are particularly attractive to cash-strapped companies and larger companies that need to reallocate spending. Further, outsourced creatives are generally more productive than employees not just because of how they compute billing, but because there is an incentive for the consultant to work efficiently since the full fee is paid upon delivery of the final project.
If there’s a tedious learning curve, hire.
Creative consultants are free to choose projects as they please. Since they presumably work with multiple clients, there may be times when they are unavailable. Knowledge and resources, therefore, may be lost or unavailable when needed by the hiring firm. For this reason, in cases where highly specialized, ongoing training is required, hiring an employee is most likely the better option.
If expertise is important, outsource.
While it is true that employees can be experts, creative consultants have a strong financial and vested interest in staying above the curve in their respective fields. They’ve worked with different firms and should have a valuable mix of experience and skills. They also keep watch on industry standards so they can provide keen insight into where it is headed. In essence, creative consultants can advise as well as implement. In addition, effective creative consultants have a network they can refer if other service needs arise (for example, printers, programmers, and writers).
If you’re not comfortable sharing trade secrets, hire.
If trade secrets are relevant to the project at hand and the in-house staff doesn’t want to share proprietary information with consultants, the project outcome may be compromised. Essentially, if creative consultants are not privy to need-to-know information, they may not grasp the big strategic picture effectively. Likewise, if the hiring firm is not comfortable using non-disclosure agreements and/or non-compete agreements, hiring an employee will better serve its interests.
What are other factors to consider when hiring or outsourcing a creative department?