• Many B2B organizations think the decision to outsource is black or white, outsourcing a complete function or deciding to do it themselves
  • There is an opportunity to structure work with an agency so it is clear what the roles on each side will be
  • This blog post shares three common examples of shared work between agency and client

Running a household is often too much for its occupants to manage. Families constantly make decisions about what to do themselves vs. what they must hire someone to complete. They make these decisions based on a variety of factors, including expertise, budget, access to the required tools or supplies, and time commitment.

As part of this decision, they also decide the degree to which they will use the extra help. For example, when hiring a cleaning company, they must decide how much of the house will be cleaned and how often the service will come.

B2B organizations make the decision to use services providers or agencies in a very similar fashion. They weigh internal factors like cost, strategic importance, skills and technology to decide what should be outsourced. But most companies view this as an all-or-nothing proposition – “either I outsource it or I do it myself.” And what they are missing is that there is a large gray area in between where there is opportunity to create structure through an agency relationship where the right activities are outsourced. Companies can gain tremendous benefits when working closely with an agency, as long as expectations are clear for both companies about roles and responsibilities. Here are the most common scenarios for using a blended approach with an agency:

  • Strategy. The organization uses an agency to develop strategies and have in-house teams execute the work. Organizations that use this approach generally have a senior leader without the requisite experience in the functional area to develop strategic plans and frameworks, but have the tactical resources available for its execution. For example, a marketing leader could hire a brand agency to set the brand direction but use internal resources for developing the associated Web collateral and design implementation.
  • Tactical execution. There are times when B2B organizations just need arms and legs to execute programming that has already been designed. This scenario happens frequently with companies that have budget available to hire agencies more readily than hire personnel. Public relations agencies are often hired for media relations activities – the agency is in charge of building relationships and scheduling interviews with the appropriate reporters.
  • By program. With this approach, the company does the work for specific business units or products, but has an agency support the full scope of work for other business units or products. This support could be particularly useful if the agency has specialized experience in the product markets that the in-house team lacks. An example is a software company that does the majority of its business with colleges and universities and handles those marketing activities in-house but uses an agency for marketing activities for a product that is sold to school districts.

Are there other agency scenarios that you’ve created? If so, please leave them in the comments section. Join my session at the SiriusDecisions Technology Exchange to learn more about agency selection.