When Marketers Need to Outsource: A Guide to Choosing an MPO

April 10, 2015

The business world has seen plenty of outsourcing trends. Business process outsourcing (BPO), legal process outsourcing (LPO) and knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) have all become standard for many companies seeking to increase productivity while reducing costs. The marketing organizations, however, have long been the holdout in this outsourcing trend, but that is changing rapidly. Chief marketing officers (CMOs), challenged by expanding global footprints and the associated communication and organizational strain, are looking for support. They must maximize resources and streamline their activities including content design, creation and management, multi-format distribution, and localization and analysis, in addition to many other activities. And they have to do all of this in a global marketplace with disparate teams across multiple countries.

Facing new challenges and opportunities, CMOs are taking a closer look at marketing process outsourcing (MPO) partners. Those partners have become vital to many organizations and on both internal and client-facing projects in industries ranging from financial services to consulting, pharmaceuticals, insurance and beyond. The right MPO can help an organization:

  • Increase marketing productivity by creating an extended infrastructure;
  • Decrease budgetary waste;
  • Create and execute a global marketing strategy; and
  • Free up the CMO to focus on business-critical activities.

A successful relationship with an MPO can yield significantly reduced operational costs, as the new approach delivers a shift from a fixed to variable model. However, not all MPOs deliver the same results. When looking for a partner that will deliver returns on investment, CMOs should focus on several key factors.

Four qualities of an effective MPO

  1. Shared corporate vision: Marketers should not view their MPOs merely as the place for offloading excess work. Instead, the MPO should become an extension of the internal marketing team. For that to work, the CMO and the MPO need to share the same vision in a collaborative strategic partnership.
  2. Global reach: As the CMO works to centralize global workflows, he or she will need an MPO with a global presence in order to manage teams across time zones. That global reach also becomes critical when it comes to creating a holistic view of worldwide operations. Experience in process consulting and improving productivity is critical for ultimate success on a larger scale.
  3. Ability to shape the corporate narrative: A great MPO is also a great storyteller. Companies should look for partners that can tell the corporate story so that it resonates as well in Russia, China, Brazil and other target countries as it does in the U.S. An effective partner can mirror the CMO’s approach to this task while tailoring it to local sensibilities around the world.
  4. Meticulous measurement: When the CMO’s primary reason for partnering with an MPO is to streamline and maximize resources, measurement capabilities are especially important. CMOs should look for strategic partners that stress their ability to delve into the data and report it and visualize it in formats that support better decision-making.

The marketing function has been more cautious than other functions to adopt global workforce solution partners than other areas of the “C” suite. Today, technology advances and global demands are driving more CMOs to look at creative ways to manage their marketing activities. As these leaders evaluate their MPO options, they should carefully evaluate each firm’s level of expertise, global reach and ability to work as an extension of the internal team. With the right MPO choice, CMOs will find that they can spend more time creating worldwide and domestic strategies, while trusting their partners to coordinate tactics that fulfill those strategies. Outsourcing can bring sustained competitive advantage, business growth and expense reduction – as long as CMOs choose their MPOs wisely.

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