Outsourcing without compromising your business - It all comes down to trust

As businesses place increasing focus on flexible workforces and outsourcing, Oxford-based digital marketing agency Urban Element explore levels of trust across B2B industries and why, despite recent changes, outsourcing is still a challenge.

Our world moves pretty fast, leaving businesses under pressure to constantly keep up. Between industry developments and demands on workforces, many UK businesses will struggle not to outsource at least some areas of their business efforts. Whether it’s an external accountant completing a tax return, an agency managing digital marketing activity or a recruiter helping to build teams, we no longer expect to carry all expertise in-house. But what do business owners think when they consider outsourcing?

In a recent questionnaire conducted by Urban Element, respondents noted that outsourcing often added additional worry to individuals already under pressure to deliver business results. From the additional cost, having to brief an external team and, crucially, considering whether a third-party can be trusted at the same level as in-house resource.

Outsourcing wouldn’t be as popular or crucial to business if it didn’t carry a range of benefits; from low labour costs, access to experts within a subject area and allowing your in-house team to focus on growth strategies and business improvements. Using third-party organisations can save both time and money. In an ideal world, you state your desired outcome and wait for the result. But reality is never quite that simple.

To outsource well, it’s critical to work with contractors that can meet your needs and expectations. You’ll undoubtedly lose some control over that business area and, perhaps most importantly, there’s a risk that the contractor you use doesn’t get your business.

Working with partners you trust is key. Perhaps this is why business decision makers interviewed said they are more likely to comfortably outsource professional over creative services. Businesses that are traditionally respected and provide a clear deliverable with a binary outcome are much easier to trust than newer to market organisations that can take multiple routes to achieve a similar result as competitors.

Professional services demand respect

Of the respondents that stated they place more trust in professional services, the reasons were consistent. The idea that organisations that deal with accounts, legal or other clear-cut services are tied to known standards that can be easily monitored, have credentials that can be independently checked and, for one individual, are the “safe, reliable type”, allow business decision makers to place trust with confidence.

Perhaps, despite the way business continues to change and progress, we haven’t yet shaken the idea that suited and booted qualified professionals deserve our trust more than the unknown creative. There is, of course, security in the traditional – we know what to expect and that binary result means we can breathe a sigh of relief, no one is trying to swindle us here. If you hire someone to deliver your annual accounts and they don’t, it’s clear that the job hasn’t been done. But if you hire someone to optimise keywords on your website and it doesn’t directly result in business sales, was the job done?

With any type of outsourcing, there are a number of measures in place to protect your business - contracts, NDAs and recognised responsibility being placed on the third-party all bring additional peace of mind to business decision makers.

Understanding your creative vision

Despite the reluctance to trust creative businesses, 62% of businesses outsource their marketing. From copywriting to social media management, over half of UK organisations are relying on a third-party to complete their creative work. This figure isn’t a surprise - new platforms, algorithms and trends must be constantly considered in order to be successful in digital marketing, and you’d expect a graphic designer to keep up to date with software and the direction the industry is heading. It’s not always easy to get this resource in-house and using an external team means you benefit from a range of experience, without needing to provide training.

But any creative work also requires those completing it to not just understand your creative vision, but to fully understand your business – a factor not necessarily required for delivering annual accounts or a trademark application. This lack of understanding is one of the most cited factors from decision makers as to why they struggle to trust businesses providing creative services.

Many organisations will have a preferred writing style, image style and way they want to portray themselves. Getting someone else to understand this can be tricky, resulting in a detrimental effect on your business persona. Of course, it shouldn’t be hard. Any good creative will be able to adjust and create quality content that fits with your style, but it seems that many businesses have been burned one too many times by organisations that don’t live up to expectations.

It’s not just creative industries that are fighting against a bad rep, newer occupations like virtual assistants and business coaches were also named amongst industries respondents were least likely to trust. Both of these jobs tap into the popularity of flexible working and often allow those pursuing the career to work independently in their own time, rather than tied to an office-based 9-5. Despite the popularity for individuals, it seems businesses themselves haven’t quite been won over yet.

To find out more about outsourcing your digital marketing to a trusted Oxford agency, contact Urban Element on +44 (0)1933 776999 or natasha@urbanelement.com.

 


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