Is it wise for a brand to outsource marketing to cut costs? The Marketing Society Forum

The Marketing Society Forum: Is it wise for a brand to outsource marketing to cut costs?
The Marketing Society Forum: Is it wise for a brand to outsource marketing to cut costs?

England cricket sponsor Brit Insurance is axing its marketing team and outsourcing the function.


In this instance it doesn't mean marketing, does it? It means promotion, marketing activation, or that dreaded word, 'marcoms'.

Marketing involves people across a business in shaping its capability to deliver customer value. It's 'the process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably'.

Activities can be outsourced, but a fundamental internal process can't. Even the old-fashioned 'the right product, in the right place, at the right time, at the right price' shows that marketing is about influencing what you make and sell, to create growth and profit.

It's hard to see how this can be outsourced even to great agencies. You risk cutting costs and growth.


If you are in a commodity market or selling white-label products, then in extreme circumstances you could maybe justify outsourcing marketing to save money short term.

If your brand is a vital part of your business, you want someone at the centre worrying about it.

Building and nurturing successful brands isn't about commoditised skills. It's about deep understanding of a business, its product and its customers and proprietorial passion about how that relationship works.

Marketing can't be relegated to mechanistic delivery of comms. It must be at the heart of product and service design, pricing and even HR.


For a lot of brands, the team itself is not the biggest marketing cost. Whether it's in-house or outsourced, you still need to pay people to do the work: if it is outsourced, you will probably pay a higher rate.

But most importantly, in difficult economic times, with pressure on budgets, every business needs to be as efficient as possible, and an in-house team that understands the brand and the business in depth is probably best placed to make the most of a limited budget.

Marketing is essential to the success of brands and businesses, and outsourcing this central business function seems very risky to me.


In her book Different, Youngme Moon of Harvard Business School talks about marketers 'being the human touch within a firm'.

This goes to the heart of what good marketers are about. It's not about shovelling out 'stuff' because you have a budget to spend, it's about being the heartbeat of an organisation, adding value through insight and humanity.

How can you do that if you are an outsourced appendage, not an integral part of the organisation?


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