Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Evaluating Outsourcing and Insourcing Marketing Support Options

Many firms debate the merits of hiring a marketing professional versus outsourcing marketing support to a marketing consultancy. So, I thought it might be helpful to outline the benefits and challenges of that decision. Here then, is a list of the considerations firms may want to evaluate in their analysis.

Benefits of Outsourcing (Marketing Consultant or Consultancy)

·        Reduced Employee Overhead- External resources can save firms as much as 40% in employee overhead costs including benefits, training and miscellaneous employee expenses.
·        Lower Startup Costs- External resources allow firms to avoid the costly investment of starting up a new functional area in the firm (office space, supplies, subscriptions, special software, etc.).
·        Specialized Skills- Consultants tend to have more specialized skills and experience in the most critical areas of legal marketing operations.
·        Objective Perspective- Consultants bring a fresh perspective uninhibited by internal processes or politics.
·        Best Practices- Consultants bring best practices derived from broad exposure to a variety of law firms and marketing challenges.
·        Robust Network- consultants have more robust network of connections. As problem solvers, they must maintain a deep network of resources that they can bring to any challenge.
·        Industry Experience- Deep experience in legal marketing and business development can save the firm in avoiding costly mistakes and trial and error experimentation.
·        Smarter Startup- External resources allow firms to evaluate their needs with little investment in the process leading to better long term decisions and more targeted recruiting of the talent needs.
·        Flexibility- Consultants are there when you need them and not there when you don’t need them. This helps firms avoid paying for non-productive time.
·        Inflexibility- In house resources which turn out to be a bad fit can take months to rectify and can leave lasting impressions on the Partnership, both internally and externally.
·        Training- In-house resources sometimes lack the experience in the industry and working within a partnership requiring training and support resources which are frequently not available in house.

Challenges of Outsourcing

·        Sense of Control- Using external resources may feel like there is less control over the resource and process. This is rarely the case as good consulting organizations typically commit to a defined process and specific deliverables.
·        Under Utilization- For busy attorneys, resources which are out of sight, tend to be out of mind. It is a very challenge which needs to be constantly addressed inside the firm is an outside resource is used.
·        Appearance of Higher Costs- Added employee and resource costs are difficult to review. New positions are mixed in with existing positions and the additional resources are not reported separately. The consultant’s invoice, however, can be reviewed in total every month. Comparison of the two resources requires expert knowledge and the adoption of certain assumptions. In fact, costs are typically much lower through improved efficiency and effectiveness.
·        Not Resident- Not having someone in the office can be a real challenge for some. For others, it’s a blessing.
·        Cultural Awareness- In-house positions tend to learn the culture of the firm more intimately. They see the behaviors and activities on a daily basis which define a firm’s culture in ‘real terms’.


Each law firm needs to decide what’s best for the partnership. However, a cautious approach dictates the use of external expertise. Unless a firm has a thorough and decisive understanding of its marketing and business development needs, law firms looking to build marketing resources should use outside consultants to help the firm determine the scope and quality of its needs and the capabilities and experience level of its first in-house marketing resource.