The Evolution of the Full Service Marketing Firm: Part I

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when businesses large and small took a wholly in-house approach to serving their clients needs.

Take, for instance, marketing companies, an industry that has proliferated almost exponentially in recent years due, in no small part, to the new challenges in advertising and promotion brought about by social media. There was a time when a client could connect with a marketing firm and expect door-to-door service, from initial branding to website and logo design to targeted messaging.

But it would seem that many firms are now taking a different approach, one based on outsourcing, subcontracting or, to be more precise, “white-labeling,” the process by which a service or product is produced by one company (a graphic or website designer, for instance) then rebranded by the marketer to make it appear as if they produced it themselves.

If the process seems a little like cheating, it’s really not. It’s simply the logical evolution of the industry, and the advantages for those on both sides of the equation are compelling:

• The process of white labeling allows a company to build a team of skilled professionals without adding the expense of full-time employees who may get bogged down with tasks that can be completed without direct supervision.

• It’s a more affordable and efficient way for a firm to operate, as resources for white labeling are increasing all the time and there’s little to no overhead to weigh down a firm’s profits.

• Handing off work forces a company to prioritize activities and, in the end, hopefully produce a better product or service.

• Outsourcing allows a marketing company to concentrate their efforts on bringing in new clients, which vastly improves their bottom line.

There are many more reasons why white labeling or outsourcing makes sense in today’s marketplace. Technology has improved to the point where it’s incredibly easy to find individuals or companies that can deftly and efficiently handle myriad tasks from anywhere in the world. Indeed, many qualified professionals are leaving the corporate world to work as freelancers or contractors, and as such they have a proven track record and, in most cases, verifiable references. And these professionals can easily substitute for a full-time position within the firm.

However, there are pitfalls that all companies, marketing firms included, should be aware of: too often a subcontractor will go off on a tangent unless given strict parameters in which to focus their work; said firms should always look first for subcontractors within their industry network rather than casting too wide a net, which can attract a host of untested and unreliable freelancers; and too often a subcontractor will dwell on the speed of completing a freelance project at expense of producing a quality product.

Curious as to when the time is right to seek out white-labeled subcontractors and freelancers, and what other benefits can be reaped from such efforts? Stay tuned for part II.

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