By Katrina Olson
If you’re like most companies, your marketing department is probably stretched pretty thin. Your team is talented and hardworking—but they can only do so much. And you can’t expect a small staff to have all the skills necessary to execute an integrated marketing plan.
When the team lacks expertise in certain disciplines—such as social media or public relations—they may perform those tasks poorly, or not at all. Either way, your company is missing marketing opportunities and potentially losing sales.
You’d love to hire another staff member or two, but it’s just not in the budget. So what do you do?
Although “insourcing” often refers to bringing manufacturing, IT or customer service functions back to the U.S., it can also mean performing tasks internally, instead of outsourcing them. For example, if your marketing department needs photography for your brochure or website, you might find an existing employee who is an amateur (or professional) photographer to take photos.
Leveraging your existing talent just makes sense. The more creative minds you have working on a problem, the more solutions you’ll get. Sales people, especially, can provide valuable insight into how customers make decisions and what will get their attention.
Of course, you’ll want to run this by management. Anticipate their questions and create a proposal that addresses details like:
- if insourced employees will be compensated
- how to ensure the insourced person’s primary work gets done
- the duration of their employment with marketing
- how you will you select from the pool of applicants
If you go to management with a well-thought-out proposal, you’re more likely to get buy-in and approval.
How to find hidden marketing talent
Ready to get started? Here are a few of ways you can discover those who are hiding their light under a bushel:
- Start with a volunteer committee.
Before trying insourcing, you may want to first solicit volunteers for a marketing committee. Here’s why. If you start (especially paid) insourcing off the bat, you may get a bunch of non-qualified applicants. By recruiting a volunteer committee first, you can gauge how many people are truly interested and available.
- Conduct a company-wide skills inventory.
Send out an open-ended survey or questionnaire asking employees what skills or talents they possess that might be helpful to marketing. For example, I have a friend who teaches high school, but he’s also a very talented illustrator/cartoonist. But I doubt he’d tell anyone unless he was asked.
- Post an internal “job announcement.”
Tons of brochures, flyers, emails and blog posts go out with typos, punctuation or grammatical errors. You probably have a grammar nerd on your staff and just don’t know it. (We’re everywhere.)
- Pay attention and ask around.
If you hear about employees who enter photo competitions or shoot weddings on weekends, ask if they’ll take pictures for your brochure or website.
Of course, you’ll need to compensate them in some way. You could give them time during the regular workweek to complete these new tasks, or pay them extra or overtime. Either way, it’s likely still more economical than hiring a freelancer or subcontracting out these services to a professional.
Hidden benefits of insourcing
Insourcing offers a few benefits you might not have thought about. For example, if you’re considering outsourcing, you can test the process with an existing employee. It’s a low-risk way to gain some experience in outsourcing.
You may find a new marketing employee without going through the extensive and expensive process of advertising, interviewing, checking references, etc. And, you can try out those potential marketing hires without the complications of releasing them if it doesn’t work out.
Whether you choose to build a team of on-call marketers or add part-time employees, insourcing is an easy way to expand your marketing capabilities with an incremental increase in expenses.
Finally, involving employees may boost morale and rally support for the marketing effort.
Olson is a marketing and public relations consultant, and principal of Katrina Olson Strategic Communications. She has written for tED magazine’s print edition since 2005, judged tED magazine’s Best of the Best Competition since 2006, and emceed the Best of the Best Awards ceremony for a total of seven years. She can be reached at Katrina@katrinaolson.com or via her website at katrinaolson.com.Tagged with tED