One of my Linked-in contacts publicly asked this question which I found worth discussing:
Can marketing as a function be outsourced? Can the whole function be outsourced or just some part of it? Will it be next in line for outsourcing after IT, HR & legal?
In my opinion, marketing is a function that is so central to a business that it requires careful nurturing and personal attention to the point of parenthood. Only “your own hands” can do the best job when dealing with your
clients customers and selling your products. The best marketers / sellers might often be the ones who can identify with the vision of the product / company and sell with passion! Outsourcing online marketing / online activity / portals is perhaps as much of the function that could be outsourced. Advertising, is, of course, outsourced too. I have also come across a number of Event Management firms that are willing to host events, participate in fairs in behalf of the company as “service providers” to a company’s marketing function.
IT and Legal functions, on the other hand, are more “mechanized” functions that can be performed by a component external to the organization in question. For instance, in case of IT / Outsourced Software Development, if the Design of the IT Architecture is broadly arrived at, then the “implementation” details are of little consequence and will usually not vary much – whether developed in-house or outsourced.
The benefits to business include cost savings and improved quality. Additionally, many firms lack “left-brain” analytical skills in-house, even though those skills are becoming more important than ever in an age of one-to-one marketing, and find that outside expertise is often needed. Sony, a legendary marketer, outsourced its program to market products through its online “Sony Style” store, recognizing that they needed expertise in areas such as customer database construction.
Although Marketing can be “Outsourced” I do not think it can ever be “Off-shore Outsourced”.. Simply because Marketing requires a deep understanding of local markets that “offshorers” cannot develop sitting miles away!