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Marketing Innovation Cannot be Outsourced

Photo by Perrimoon

A chorus of voices raised across every mix of media urges brands – large and small – to compete on innovation.


New products, new services, new marketing techniques. Hundreds of books, thousands of blogs and millions of tweets espouse the path to commercial nirvana is paved with magical mystery of clever new craftsmanship.

For today’s marketer the message is even more direct: use innovative channels and tactics or risk losing ground to your competitor.

But while the pursuit of the Next Big Thing has forever been a key to creating better products, companies are increasingly competing along a new dimension: marketing innovation.

It’s seen in dynamic digital promotions; clever web applications; high-profile social media campaigns; or the deployment of any number of web-based communications tools. The range of activity is wide and marketing teams need help.

Traditional Providers

This need has traditionally been met by marketing and creative agencies, but today these same organisations face their own dilemmas in how to respond to ever-changing technology.

As such, and particularly for larger businesses, agencies are no longer wholly capable of meeting the full needs of a brand. Even the largest agencies will never have the range of skills required.

What’s more, some new new activities are beyond the support of existing agencies; today’s shops are not able to develop and support long-term blogging initiatives, Twitter account management and other social media activity. This capability must be retained by the brand.

It’s true, some innovation can be handed over; developing new types of television or online advertising, for example, will remain – for the time being – too difficult and expensive for brands to take in house. Consequently, existing agencies are well placed to meet this need.

However, those crucial functions of today’s emerging tools and tactics – namely the cultivation and curation of meaningful, ongoing customer relationships – cannot be left to an outside agent. These skills are too vital, too critical to the core business to abandon entirely. Brands must develop the internal capability to deliver these functions itself or risk disconnecting from customers altogether.

Ultimately brands will continue to become more sophisticated in their requirements and test the skills of those within internal teams and external partners. Like it or not, brands will have to hire staff capable of delivering this new marketing magic.

They cannot simply outsource the problem this time.

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