Need some more arms and legs in your business? Can't afford a full time staff member? Consider offshoring your work, but only after you read this blog!
After many years of thinking about outsourcing marketing work overseas, I finally took the plunge and engaged an agency six months ago. Since then we have had some ups and some downs, but overall a very positive experience for all concerned. I also just hired my first Virtual Assistant to manage my personal brand.
This blog is to share my top three learnings from outsourcing your marketing work overseas.
Top 3 Outsourcing Tips
1) Have a trusted partner:
One of the reasons it took me so long to start offshoring was I didn't personally know anyone running agencies overseas. I was approached my times by people in my network, however they were either selling the service from Australia, so were not in the local country themselves to supervise the work. Or they were overseas, but I didn't know them well enough to fully trust the process.
Trust in business is a funny thing. It is a combination of do you like someone enough to work with them and do you think they are credible enough to get the job done.
When my old mate from Hewlett Packard days called me to let me know he had moved to Manilla and started an offshoring agency, I immediately wanted to try it. We were mates as well as business friends so it was a great fit.
My personal brand agency, Social Star, was growing fast and we needed more support, but I was a little concerned at the quality of work. I tested a few jobs and they really did put in the extra yards. There were some limitations to the work they could do, but I soon found the sweet spot for their skills and experience.
However, I realised that if I could train them on my unique marketing model of e-ttraction, then we could grow together.
2) You have to train them:
Don't expect your Virtual Assistant or off shore agency to know how your business runs and all the tools you use. Like any new employee they need training on the way you work.
Once my trial with the agency had been successful I invested in flying to Manilla to train their staff on our business philosophy, the specific tools we use here at Social Star and our processes. It was a great chance to visit the Philippines for the first time and catch up with my old mate. Plus I wanted to see how they operated and worked first hand, meet the staff and form a relationship with them. Because I run a travel business in my spare time, it ticked many boxes for me.
After years or running marketing in Asia for Hewlett Packard I learnt that the investment of time and money to sit in someones office, take them for a meal and get to know them, pays significant dividends to your relationship over time. A physical trip is a bit too much for only one VA, however as we will be hiring many staff for our clients it was necessary for me to go there. For most clients Skype training would be sufficient, however if you are keen to travel more, it is a great experience to see how they work!
Training complete I had a much stronger idea on what they could do and where they were lacking. Prior to the trip we were having some ups and downs with our work quality, which made me realise the vital importance of a really strong brief. Without the proper guidance on what to do, when and clear expectations of the outcome, you will not get the results you desire.
3) Have a strong brief:
It might seem obvious to my marketing friends that a strong brief produces a strong result. But at times when you have a thousand things to do and time is short, it's easy to skip the details in the brief. Especially when you know the work so well and presume that others do too.
My advice is to give them the work you can provide a detailed and specific brief now. Then grow that work over time to include more complex tasks, but only when you have the time to measure and monitor the results. If we have an urgent job that I haven't trained them on, we give it to our local suppliers. Once I know I have trained the overseas team can thoroughly, then I can give them the work.
So is hiring a virtual team cost effective? In the short term probably not. They require time, training and care to be efficient and effective. However, in the long term I consider that an investment in a long term employee.
If you have been thinking of hiring a virtual assistant or off shoring some marketing work, I would be happy to share my experience with you and give you some more specific advice. Just send me a message here and we can set up a time to chat on the phone.
I hope this blog has been of interest and useful. Check out my other blog on some of my other experiences in the Philippines here.
If you liked this blog don't miss out on the next one! Subscribe now to get them in your mailbox each week. What's the worst that can happen, you can always cancel and you just might learn something valuable :)
As an added bonus all my visitors can download a complimentary copy of my book 'Creating a Powerful Brand' by clicking on the book menu button or here. Tell your friends we have load of eBooks! It will change your life or you money back. Enjoy!