“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I exclaimed while leading a marketing team on a walk-through of an existing marketing automation system. “The lead nurturing content is wrong, and the landing pages don’t align with the message.”
“Where’s the documentation and the process for this?” I asked.
“We don’t have any. A consultant did it.”
“What about the messaging? Let’s look at the assumptions.”
“We hired another firm to do that.”
Sigh. “OK, then, let’s fix the landing pages. We’ll modify the message and the call-to-action. And the graphics, we’ll need to make some modifications.”
“We can’t. We don’t have any of the Adobe tools to do it. Besides, if we did, we wouldn’t know how to use them. We only have the JPG, GIF, and PNG graphics files.”
“You didn’t get the source files as part of the contract?”
“Where’s the designer?”
“Don’t know. He was a freelancer, and his Comcast email and cell number don’t work.”
I’d like to think this saga is unique, but I hear it regularly from my marketing and executive colleagues. Over the past decade, many of us have had to either make deep cuts in our organizations or significantly increase our productivity without a comparable change in staffing or resources. It’s the nature of our business and the more astute managers will adapt, often through outsourcing and contract help.
But outsourcing doesn’t mean you abdicate competence. A marketing manager or executive must have a grasp of what’s being outsourced and retain ownership and understanding. One of the finest courses I took in graduate school was “Business Law.” On the first day of class, Professor Susan Samuelson addressed the class:
You are not here to be lawyers: you are here to be good clients, which requires an understanding of the basics of law so you can make intelligent decisions.
True for business law, true for marketing, and true for other professions. If you don’t understand what you’re outsourcing, then how can you gauge the results? Marketing outsourcing will remain a critical part of our operations, but be sure to keep competency in-house.
Photo Credit: Eric Ward