Outsourcing lets agencies do more with less

Mark Hannant  •  July 2021
  • Outsourcing

It’s a tough time for creative agencies and studios. The brands that are their customers are asking them to do ‘more with less’. The number of available channels has exploded. Feedback loops have grown exponentially. Data is rampant. Personalisation is the communicator’s holy grail. Regulation changes rapidly. Budgets are constrained. There’s lots to do.

To survive and thrive, agencies and studios need to optimise their workflows and operating models. The goal is to be more agile and responsive to clients’ mounting demands.

We’ve been here before

Let’s think about the world of corporate IT and the rise of cloud computing. In the early years of the 21st century, corporate spend on IT exploded as digital technology became mainstream. New roles appeared for developers, database managers, and data scientists as companies, even small ones, splashed the cash on servers, storage space, infrastructure, software licences, and other shiny stuff. They went on to employ teams of in-house technicians to support these big investments. It wasn’t sustainable.

Cloud computing – the provision of remote, communal services on a pay-as-you-consume basis – afforded an answer. Companies shifted much of their IT spend from capex to opex and enjoyed the economies of scale that come when resources are shared. Cloud gave access to scalable resources that can be ratcheted up to meet peaks in demand and scaled back when demand subsides. IT spend became much more transparent. Companies had access to software updates and new releases immediately with expert, on-demand remote support. Today, IT has largely become a variable-cost service.

Applying cloud principles to creative services

The motivating idea behind Indigo Premedia is to apply those agile principles to the world of creative services. Our model gives agencies the cost and operational benefits of on-demand resources; scalability, reduced overheads, lower capex and pay-as-you-go pricing. When that’s done with no dilution of quality, with rapid response, and at scale, agencies improve margins on existing work and many find they can expand their service offerings. 

Consider an agency specialised in financial reporting. It sees seasonal spikes in demand. Tens of thousands of pages of report and accounts have to be laid out at short notice. The agency can bring in freelancers. But they are a finite resource. Competition is fierce from other agencies. Rates spike. The alternative is to outsource and tap into a deep pool of talent, flexible, remotely located, expertly supervised and scalable throughout the reporting season. 

When the US Food and Drug Administration announces changes to nutrition labels, design agencies working with FMCG companies have a huge task to revamp labels across multiple stock keeping units (SKUs). Remaking thousands of labels is time consuming and expensive. For a short but intense period agencies need access to specialist skills at scale. Outsourcing these repetitive, yet highly detailed, tasks is a cost-effective way to get the job done. 

Outsourcing offers competitive advantage

Demanding brands need agencies to deliver across multiple creative disciplines at short notice and at speed. Some of that capability – particularly creative strategy and origination – an agency will keep in house, and rightly so. That’s its DNA. But much of the production work associated with large scale creative projects need not be kept so close to home. 

By tapping into geographically dispersed creative talent across disciplines, agencies can solve the conundrum of good, fast and cheap. Doing so de-risks them, makes them more competitive and boosts profitability.

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