Casual observers of Verge Pipe Media know we are in the business of providing outsourced marketing to clients in Higher Education, Technology and Healthcare. If however, you're arriving at this article with less than a clue who VPM is or what we do, this is your disclaimer that the following article, while objectively outlined, may seem partial to the idea of outsourcing your higher ed marketing.
Outsourcing is one of those words long overdue for a suitable replacement. During political cycles, which increasingly seem to go on longer and longer, it's a dirty word used to strike fear in the hearts of voters. In corporate board rooms it's a term with few equals whenever cost savings is on the agenda.
But in everyday life it's used by almost everyone at some point personally or professionally, often without getting enough credit for the value outsourcing delivers. Consider these "outsourcing" use cases:
- Personal fitness trainer
- Accountant / Bookkeeper / Tax Assistance
- Lawn maintenance (edging, mowing and landscaping)
- Chef / Restaurant
And I could go on, but I think you see the pattern emerging that these are optional to critical tasks which depending upon your level of skill, you gladly turn over to someone else. Your motivation could range from giving yourself more time to do things you prefer, or because the individual(s) you hire do those tasks better and more efficiently than you could do them yourself.
It's really no different than making the decision to outsource your marketing. Below, I've listed what I consider my top 3 reasons to outsource your higher ed marketing.
1. Getting and Staying Strategic. Whether you work in, or manage a marketing and communications shop on campus, you can't help but be consumed by daily fire drills. You know the ones - they always show up at the most inopportune time to disrupt your work on larger items - and they are almost always the result of someone else not doing what they were supposed to do. Ourtsourcing at least part of your campus communication and marketing gives you a strategic partner who isn't consumed with the day to day politics, personalities and to-do lists of others. By viture of the fact that your outsourced marketing partner isn't on campus, they rise above and pay attention to the horizon.
- Long term focus with assistance in short term iniatives
- Goal setting and accountability
- Shared services as these firms likely work with other, similar shops and can provide crucial advice in the form of, "some of our other client's struggle with _____."
2. Covering all the Bases. Agencies, like you, are accustomed to doing more with less. Unlike you, they probably hire and staff their team with people who can perform multiple, critical skills for a marketing shop. For example, the copywriters probably know a thing or three about operating a video camera and may have basic graphic design experience. The social media experts likely are also certified in the setup and use of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). They will have at least one person on staff who understands the data behind all of the activity being generated online. The agency principals more than likely bring years of integrated marketing experience to the table. In other words, your outsourced marketing partner spends their day rapidly shifting into, and out of, roles which your College or University can't staff for due to budget constraints.
- Access to shops with multiple skill sets, many of which you would not be able to justify the head count for internally
- Cost savings in the form of hiring, "several for the price of one"
- An on-demand workforce who is motivated to stay ahead of the curve on the changing digital landscape, so you don't have to!
3. Speed to Market. Let's face it, Universities have not, and likely will never be known as change agents on a deadline. There are jokes aplenty about how slowly things get done on campus. Uutsourcing your higher ed marketing to an agency changes all of that immediately. You now have boosted your team with a partner who only gets paid if they produce. Period. If you build a great relationship with a partner who has a seat at the table with you on strategy and tactics, you'll see overnight changes in how quickly your creative gets out the door and your campaigns encompass so much more than just direct mail or email.
- The instant addition of resources, many of which you would never get approval for internally
- Pay for performance team who stays until the job gets done correctly
- The ability to tackle multiple, different tasks or deadlines at once, providing true integrated marketing campaigns
If you haven't worked with an agency in the past, it's important to do your homework. One of the first questions a great agency should ask are, "what are your goals?" You'll want to start the relationship off correctly from the beginning so pay attention to what your outsourced higher ed marketing partner is asking for and the advice they give. After all, you're hiring for their expertise and abilities - so why not fully leverage them?
Speaking of expertise and abilities - here are Verge Pipe Media we're always looking at trends and opportunities. One such opportunity is the result of surveying almost 650 current or recent college students about their relationship with their Dean. If you think your Dean is just a little too analog for today's digital scene, you'll want to download our FREE white paper on the subject by tapping the button below.