Outsourcing Marketing

I asked top marketers to report how much they expected their companies to outsource marketing in the next 12 months. This percentage has grown over time as shown in Figure 1. In fact the last measurement, taken in August 2011, grew by over 100% over the prior year!

Figure 1: Percentage of Company Outsourcing of Marketing Expected in Next 12 Months

Why do companies outsource marketing?

  1. Companies don’t have the expertise to perform key marketing tasks.
  2. Companies don’t think the benefit of building knowledge and skills is better than the value they get from an expert partner performing that same task.
  3. Companies can’t produce the same function at the same low price as they can buy it in the open market because the provider has scale, scope, and experience (and perhaps cheap labor?).
  4. Companies prioritize other strategic areas more highly than doing marketing internally.
  5. Companies want a new point of view. It is easy to stop learning when you are stuck listening to the same colleagues every day. An external partner can offer important insights.
  6. Companies don’t understand the value of marketing.

What are the costs of outsourcing marketing?

  1. Integration costs: Outsourced marketing doesn’t fit well with marketing the company produces or with other strategies it is pursuing
  2. Customer costs: Managers lose sight of customers and what the firm is doing in the marketplace. They spend a lot of time on inventory, balance sheets, analyst conference calls, or building plants. This turning inward can be tragic in some cases.
  3. Control costs: Coase and Williamson both won Nobel prizes in Economics for their study of transaction costs, which are those costs the firm must control, contract, and incentivize away to ensure partners act as its agent. When a company chooses to “buy” its marketing services and not “make” them itself, the challenge is to ensure the relationship produces value.
  4. Objectivity costs: No marketer wants to be fired for sharing bad news about the value of a strategic decision or initiative. This can make it tougher to be a truth teller if you are providing marketing from outside the boundary of the firm.
  5. Risk costs: Partners may take more or less risk than a firm would take given they are not responsible to shareholders, employees, and customers in the same way managers are.
  6. Path dependence losses: A path dependence means that experience matters. The down side to path dependencies from marketing experience is that firms get locked into their own habits and routines. However, the upside of path dependency—grinding out the knowledge and efficiencies that come from learning by doing over and over and over again—is not realized either. These positive path dependencies can make it difficult for competitors to jump in because the firm is so good at what it does.

Is your firm outsourcing marketing? How is the calculus of these costs and benefits working out? Any suggestions on how to tip the scales in the favor of benefits? I’ll share more next week on who is outsourcing. In the mean time, jump in and share your view.

Post By Christine Moorman (64 Posts)

Website: → The CMO Survey

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11 Comments So Far...

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  1. avatar The Rapid Growth of Marketing Outsourcing | Fearless Competitor

    [...] Outsourcing January 26, 2012 Leave a Comment According to a recent study by CMOSurvey.org, Marketing Outsourcing - outsourcing of marketing is growing fast.  (Click the link to read the original post, including [...]

  2. avatar Who Outsources Marketing? | The CMO Survey

    [...] Outsourcing Marketing [...]

  3. avatar avatarMark Jones

    I asked top marketers to report how much they expected their companies to outsource marketing in the next 12 months. This percentage has grown over time as shown in Figure 1. In fact the last measurement, taken in August 2011, grew by over 100% over the prior year!
    I am really not surprised about this figure, outsourcing is becoming always more popular and for good reasons too, and amongst the most important reasons we have the money, as we all know that labour in Asia is much cheaper, so company love saving money this way.

  4. avatar Daniel Heimlich - Blog

    [...] conundrum, there is a fast emerging trend to outsource marketing expertise in general.  In fact, a recent study by CMOsurvey.org, which was conducted by a Sr. Professor at the Fuqua School of Busines…, found a more than 500% increase in marketing outsourcing since [...]

  5. avatar avatarNick Ford

    money is everything to people who let it be or have no choice… every inch has it’s own costs.. at least it is better if the things around us are really that predictable…. but thanks for these graphs anyways… at least we understand

  6. avatar Why You Don’t Need a Marketing VP | Daniel Heimlich

    [...] conundrum, there is a fast-emerging trend to outsource marketing expertise in general.  In fact, a recent study by CMOsurvey.org, which was conducted by a Sr. Professor at the Fuqua School of Busines…, found a more than 500% increase in marketing outsourcing since [...]

  7. avatar SalesZoomer Marketing Services – Translate your offering in a message « SalesZoomer

    [...] an early 2012 survey by CMO Survey group indicated a sharp increase in Marketing [...]

  8. avatar avatarChristine Moorman

    Hi Daniel,

    I would argue for a different role for the VP of Marketing, one that is focused on managing all aspects of the customer relationship. However, to stay focused on your point about outsourcing, I would add that the trend toward outsourcing should be tempered with a eyes-wide open understanding of its potential costs. Here are some I list in the blog:

    Integration costs: Outsourced marketing doesn’t fit well with marketing the company produces or with other strategies it is pursuing

    Customer costs: Managers lose sight of customers and what the firm is doing in the marketplace. They spend a lot of time on inventory, balance sheets, analyst conference calls, or building plants. This turning inward can be tragic in some cases.

    Control costs: Coase and Williamson both won Nobel prizes in Economics for their study of transaction costs, which are those costs the firm must control, contract, and incentivize away to ensure partners act as its agent. When a company chooses to “buy” its marketing services and not “make” them itself, the challenge is to ensure the relationship produces value.

    Objectivity costs: No marketer wants to be fired for sharing bad news about the value of a strategic decision or initiative. This can make it tougher to be a truth teller if you are providing marketing from outside the boundary of the firm.

    Risk costs: Partners may take more or less risk than a firm would take given they are not responsible to shareholders, employees, and customers in the same way managers are.

    Path dependence losses: A path dependence means that experience matters. The down side to path dependencies from marketing experience is that firms get locked into their own habits and routines. However, the upside of path dependency—grinding out the knowledge and efficiencies that come from learning by doing over and over and over again—is not realized either. These positive path dependencies can make it difficult for competitors to jump in because the firm is so good at what it does.

  9. avatar Noosh Customer Executive Roundtable 2013 Exec RoundtableThe 2013 Noosh Customer Executive Roundtable was a great success and allowed our customers to spend valued time getting to know each other to share their best practices. And, they had a first row sea

    [...] is significant, over 20% annually, and is expected to continue to grow rapidly for some time. See www.cmosurvey.org/blog/outsourcing-marketing/ for more [...]

  10. avatar What is Outsourced Marketing? | Naomi Aldred

    […] recent months we have seen a surge in requests for outsourced marketing, but not from the regular suspects (being medium to large […]

  11. avatar avatarBidServices

    Every company have their own limitations, and outsourcing could be the main solution such problems. Nice post!

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