You outsource payroll and IT, Why not Marketing?

Bit controversial this, so controversial that most college marketing departments have had a little warning about us, and. at a certain marketing bash in November you can take part in a workshop to defend yourself against companies like ours. What we do isn’t evil, it isn’t against the law, and actually works quite well.

HEALTH WARNING: Before you read further, we are an education marketing and PR agency, and I make no apology for that. SHOCK HORROR: We have expanded into outsourced services. Now you have been warned, read on at your own peril.

A few colleges have taken the marketing outsource leap like Bournemouth & Poole College, Barnfield and Northampton. A few are going through the process like Yeovil, and a few are just sniffing the air to see what’s going on.

Lots of colleges outsource their IT and HR so, why not marketing? When a college outsources its marketing, a company like ours takes responsibility for the marketing function.

In our instance that includes everything from research, strategy and planning, to the delivery of marcoms (prospectuses, guides, brochures), PR, advertising, copywriting, social media, websites, event management, and media buying, placement and printing.

Budgets are being squeezed, and squeezed again, and the constant call of ‘more for less’ is a like a broken record that won’t stop spinning. Outsourcing is an option. So, what are the downsides?

Bedding in
An outsourced marketing team is not of the college’s culture, every college is different, and the transition period can be a little bumpy. We need to understand personal and political agendas, how things are, how things are usually done etc, and this takes a little time. One senior manager explained that it was rather like steering an iceberg, the top changes course much quicker that the bottom.

Managing expectations
The agreed scope is the agreed scope – additional work has to be charged for, if the college or a department suddenly needs ad hoc events, additional meetings, new branding or a swift poster, if these weren’t agreed at the beginning of the contract, they have to be paid for. So, what are the benefits?

Even if a college has its own marketing department (some don’t), a reliance on marketing outsourcing frees up in-house personnel for certain responsibilities, so they can play to their strengths. If a college does not have its own marketing department, outsourcing can provide it, lock stock and barrel!
With marketing outsourcing, every discipline is on the table. That is important to consider, because no matter how hard a traditional agency tries to serve its customers, the fact is that it basically exists to sell public relations or production of marketing collateral etc.

An outsourced team has a different objective: Identify and deploy the resources needed, based not on what its in-house talent can produce, but on a strategic analysis of the college’s goals, market position and budget.
Reduced overheads.

By engaging a marketing outsourcing agency, colleges can significantly reduce overheads. Just ask any of the principals at the colleges who have taken the leap!

Access to specialist skills
In-house marketing staff may not always have specialist skills, it’s a demanding job and often they have to wear lots of different hats, often all at once!

Outsourcing to an experienced marketing team that understands FE not only brings in new ideas and added energy, but also the specialist talents, (like PR, research, digital expertise, copywriting and project
management) needed to execute the college’s marketing goals.

For these reasons and more, marketing outsourcing delivers real value, bringing in a new level of efficiency and effectiveness to the often daunting task of marketing a whole college offering to what is increasingly a demanding, diverse and often difficult-to-reach audience.

Of course, I’m in PR and run a marketing agency, so I would say that.

However, I’d like to say this too: some colleges really don’t need to outsource, in our experience there are some fine college marketers and PROs out there and they are doing a cracking job – you know who you are!

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