From marketing and content writing to design and animation… you can outsource creative services and build the ultimate team to deliver on projects faster – working exclusively for your organization. But before you hire any creatives, here’s what you need to know about outsourcing creative design services to the Philippines…
Creative services – it’s an exciting, if vague title, calling up images of perfectly pitched viral campaigns put together by the hip and stylish.
The reality can be far more mundane and labor-intensive – not to mention bewildering and expensive – especially when you most need the branding momentum to take your business to the next level.
And creative roles can’t be dismissed as icing on the cake. Brand identity is vital in the modern market. Customer perceptions, loyalty, reputation, positioning — billions are spent every year tweaking campaign details to get in the right eyes, under the right light, then analyzing the outcome. There’s a growing push in the marketing field towards ‘omni-marketing’, which means campaigns with an integrated approach to touchpoints across all channels, creating a “seamless” customer experience. That’s a tall order for the odd half-hour gaps between meetings.
Research by marketing analyst group Smart Insights shows two-thirds of businesses surveyed last year had already begun or were planning to initiate a digital marketing transformation within the year. That takes expertise, particularly with marketing trends stampeding towards cutting-edge techniques like voice marketing and AI. And, of course, it takes money…
The base salary for a creative services manager in the United States averaged $63,723 in 2019, according to data from Glassdoor.com, rising to over $150,000 in some companies, with digital marketing specialists not far behind at $60,714. In Australia, advertising copywriters’ salaries ranged from $78,000 Australian dollars up to well over $100,000. So it’s not hard to see that putting together even a small team of competent local creatives would soon be pushing your budget boundaries, even before paying site costs and software upgrades.
What are your options?
Traditionally, companies had three main alternatives to an entirely in-house creative services department: outsourcing creative services to a local creative agency, using freelancers or a combination of a smaller in-house team supported by external agencies or supplement by freelancers.
All of these options offer different advantages and drawbacks.
Finding a full-service professional agency may seem to be the most reassuring option, but it can also be the most costly. Not only that, but companies like this tend to be very invested in their own signature style. After all, you’re paying them for their trained opinion – so if relinquishing ownership of your own creative vision is a wrench, this may not be the best way to go.
Generally, a contract with a creative company will also involve additional fees for any unforeseen amendments to the original work done, and new contracts for updated campaign aspects. Copyright of the concepts may even remain with the agency under the basic quote. If you think it’s likely these issues will hold your business back, outsourcing creative services to an agency may not be the best solution.
A photoshoot here, a copywriter there – a shiting band of freelancers can be a good intermediate option for growing companies, allowing the flexibility of up front fees, obligation-free.
But as your creative requirements grow more sophisticated, the juggle can become more trouble than it’s worth. Can you space the administrative manpower to keep track of the different contracts and make sure you’re getting a fair rate? Not only that, but without the unifying vision of a skilled creative manager, you may end up with a patchy, unprofessional end product.
Mix and Match?
A skeleton in-house team bolstered by freelancers, or supported by a creative agency, may be a good compromise – you retain more control, while benefiting from targeted professional guidance and extra freelance talent as needed. But does it really end up much more cost-effective than keeping it all in the company? Can you spare the administrative hours to keep track of the different contracts and rates? And will the arrangement fall apart when you need a powerful, cohesive effort to support rebranding or a big product launch? Writing that kind of risk with brand identity into your long term plans isn’t good business.
And the offshore alternative
Fortunately for today’s companies, the digital age brings innovative options for sourcing creative talent along with the increasing pressure to perform in that department. Outsourcing creative and design services roles overseas is one way companies can leverage the expertise of experienced creative professionals for far less than they would be able to afford to spend on equivalent talent back home.
Not only does this cut costs dramatically, it allows you to maintain control and ownership of your creative processes and materials. And you can be confident in a unified team of skilled branding, digital and design professionals working synergistically with your creative leads and true to your vision.
Indeed, an entirely new industry has sprung up around this type of offshoring. It’s called creative process outsourcing (CPO), and it evolved from the traditional business process outsourcing (BPO) that the Philippines is renowned for. In the Philippines, with its well educated, articulate, English-speaking labor force, established offshoring providers can help you put together a customized and affordable creative team of seasoned professionals.
With the right help, you can find creatives with a demonstrated track record of creating successful campaigns similar to what your company needs, perhaps also with experience working together, and a creative manager to convey your design and branding needs to the team quickly and accurately.
Then, buoyed by streamlined social media, advertising and online communications, your customer engagement will increase exponentially, and you’ll be needing all your staff at home to focus on sales and development just to meet the increased demand.
Commonly outsourced creative services roles
Sometimes for a busy non-creative, it’s hard to get an idea of what roles fall into the category, where branding ends and marketing begins, and how much ends up being IT, anyway? The scope of creative outsourcing solutions covers all marketing and advertising functions and processes, as well as the technical, artistic and administrative roles that support them.
These are some of the support creative services roles that are commonly outsourced to the Philippines. The people in these jobs put into practice the branding and marketing strategies devised by creative executives. They come up with the artwork according to briefs, and write the copy for all platforms, which drives customers back to your website to increase sales. They create the look and user interface for the web presence – as well as the flash or animation ‘bells and whistles’ to catch the public’s fickle eye. These skilled team members also maintain and update marketing materials once the brand image has been established.
The following more senior creative roles are also commonly outsourced, allowing businesses to delegate their creative planning and development offshore as well as the execution:
Go big or (stay) home?
Whether you’re outsourcing your creative services roles overseas or to local providers, you need to make the decision whether to start on a small scale – a photographer here, a copywriter there, to buy yourself some time to work on your core business responsibilities – or to offshore the entire team.
Due to the particular synergies and workflow of creative departments, it can often be a better choice to engage or create an entire outsourced creative team. And if you choose to outsource to the Philippines, this is an achievable goal for a modest outlay.
Because so many different talents and tasks must be woven together to create a company’s brand – often at great speed – having those people all together in one place is more efficient, as well as more rewarding for them. Good creatives take pride in their work, which depends on collaboration and ingenuity. They tend not to thrive in a vacuum. Celebrating successes, working together to iron out knots – all these things build staff loyalty and wellbeing, which translates to a stronger result.
Just as importantly, setting up an offshore creative team also allows you to maintain more direct management of the processes and staff than you would if you engaged local creative services companies to take over your accounts. (And naturally it would cost you a lot less.)
The fundamentals – a basic creative team
An outsourced creative team could mean just a few targeted individuals working to briefs provided by a creative director at home; or it could be an entire advertising cohort from director to proofreader.
Individuals in smaller creative teams, whether in-house or outsourced, design and execute advertising campaigns for their companies or client companies. They create copy and artwork for various media, which can include anything from simple brochures and print media ads, to social media campaigns, including both passive placement and overt brand profiles, proprietary web sites, banner ads for web platforms, email campaigns, newsletters, blogs or even podcasts.
A small, start-up, outsourced creative design services team is typically composed of the following:
An organization chart for this no-frills team might look something like this:
You’ll notice the multi-directional hierarchy, an important element in a modern creative team. While copywriters and graphic designers will receive instruction from the digital marketing specialists and the web developer, they’ll also be called on for special commissions from the onshore team via the creative services manager, and their input is an important part of a collaborative project development within the team.
Creative Services Manager
A creative manager is in charge of making sure the team’s work complies with professional standards and company policy, and with the briefs delivered from home base. They will help choose the rest of the creative team, with input from your offshoring provider and the onshore liaison, and oversee training and development. On a day to day basis, the creative manager will supervise progress, give direction and make sure production targets are being met. It’s very important to have a strong relationship with your off-shored creative manager, as they will become your representative in the field.
In a creative team, the web developer will liaise with the creative manager to design the flow and functions of the website, writing and testing bespoke software, debugging the system and setting up access to databases and network servers. They’ll ensure the site is optimized for mobile devices, that sales platforms are secure, and that all functions are consistent across all access points. Their scaffold will be dressed with the artwork and content contributed by graphic designers and copywriters.
Developers almost always work hand-in-hand with web designers, who are more concerned with the look of the site. In larger teams, they’ll also work with user experience (UX) specialists who design user-friendly website journeys for visitors, information architecture (IA) specialists who structure bigger websites and design navigation and page flows, and testing professionals who ensure the finished site is bug-free, and fully functional and consistent across all web browsers. You may also decide to add animators to work with your developers to enhance your web and digital offerings.
Digital Marketing Specialist
Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest – oh my! It’s a digital jungle out there and a company needs a canny navigator even to find their feet, let alone use it to drive profits. In just one example, recent research by Oberlo shows that there are 1 billion active Instagram accounts, with 500 million people using it on a daily basis. Different demographics dominate different social platforms, and more are popping up every day.
A digital marketing specialist is a marketing professional who designs media campaigns for online and social media platforms. They must also have a solid grasp of search engine optimization (SEO) principles, paid search (PPC) options, such as GoogleAds, display media placements and the different forms of digital analytics, in order to best drive online brand promotion.
They’ll provide input to other creatives on how to optimize design and writing for the digital space, how to ensure different platforms are connected and working in a complementary fashion, as well as developing special offerings such as competitions and email campaigns to promote new products or services. Always staying on top of the latest trends, they’ll develop a strategy for a brand’s social media presence, and in a small team, will probably also manage social media accounts. Social media management also plays an increasingly important role in customer service, with 59% of Americans saying it has made it easier to get their questions answered and issues resolved, (Lyfe Marketing, 2018) and positive customer service experiences, in turn, drive positive impressions of a company, which drive sales.
In a larger team, the digital marketing specialist would be overseeing other digital roles, which may include dedicated SEO specialists, SEM or PPC specialists, or market data analysts, as well as social media assistants and moderators.
A mercifully straightforward job title for a very important role. Copywriters provide the words to engage customers and make them want to hear more about your company’s offerings. They provide content for all marketing materials from print to social. This includes blogging, which is increasingly regarded as a primary marketing tool, with 55% of marketers identifying blog content creation as their top inbound marketing priority, according to a 2018 HubSpot survey.
Copywriters need a superior command of written English, including a flair for syntax and usage. They will have excellent grammar and spelling, an eye for detail, creativity and imagination, and the ability to stay on top of emerging trends and techniques.
It’s also important that copywriters are able to communicate well with their teammates because they will be interpreting the messages of marketing campaigns, and adjusting their expression as appropriate for different platforms. They may also serve as de facto information architecture (UX) specialists and information architects (IAs) on smaller teams.
Graphic/web designers create the artwork and copy styles crucial in establishing a brand identity. Using briefs and design concepts development by creative leads, graphic designers put together illustrations, draft layouts, font suites and fine branding details to be used across all media communications for a consistent aesthetic.
They liaise with web developers and branding strategists as marketing concepts evolve, and ensure that new content is in line with the company’s image. They also liaise with the team’s copywriters (and, on larger teams, information architecture (UX) specialists and information architects (IAs)).
In a larger creative services team, your designers would work with specialized art workers such as video editors and animators to customize the company’s online materials.
The beauty of outsourcing generally is the ability to scale up your off-shore team as your business and needs expand. And creative services roles can be targeted and differentiated with minute precision.
Contrary to what might be your instincts when first setting up a starter creative team, it’s better to splurge on more experienced senior or intermediate staff at the outset. The relative cost compared to hiring an equivalent cadre of employee at home will still be miniscule, but their ability to hit the ground running and act quickly to implement your needs will be substantially greater.
If you decide you’d like to grow your outsourced creative services team, having experienced senior workers on site will make that job much easier, because they can function as team leaders. Even if you end up hiring new management-level employees at the top end of the hierarchy, existing experienced creatives with seniority will have better insight into what skills would best enhance the team in new junior hires. Their professional standing, combined with their knowledge of your company will also put them in a better position to train and mentor newcomers while the whole team adjusts to the new workflow.
The structure of a larger outsourced creative services team is similar to that of a small advertising firm:
This chart gives an idea of how a more complex creative services team may be structured, although it’s important to add that the organization of advertising and marketing teams is in itself the topic of advanced study. There are multiple theories set out in marketing literature, and it’s worth doing some research in consultation with your offshored management to see which would best suit your company’s priorities – always with the understanding that adjustments can be made as your needs change.
There are many other supporting technology-oriented roles that might fit within this structure underneath the digital and web leaders, including (but not limited to) animators, video specialists, UX/UI (user experience) web experts, SEO analysts, or even game designers. Content managers and photo editors are often engaged to support web developers and content editors. With a large team of copywriters, or just a heavy load of writing, it might also be a good idea to include proofreaders.
Interested in recruiting an outsourced creative services team?
Running successful marketing and advertising campaigns in the digital age is not a job for amateurs. A company’s public branding must be unified, agile and easily monitored. It must evolve constantly to adopt new technologies and attract attention with fresh content, but not so different that the brand identity is diluted, or so heavy-handed that it becomes annoying.
Since our inception in 2006, MicroSourcing has become one of the biggest managed operations providers in the Philippines. With over 4,000 employees, seven delivery centers and close to 200 clients, we can help you build a dedicated team in the Philippines, regardless of the roles and level of specialization you require. We have more than 675 advertising, marketing and digital creative professionals in our candidate database, and we’ve employed more than 675 construction and engineering professionals for our clients since 2006. So it’s safe to say: we’re highly experienced in outsourcing creative design services.
Book a free consultation to discuss your company’s creative needs. You could have your outsourced creative services team set up in the Philippines in as little as 6 weeks. Or request a Job Costing & Salary Matrix of current Philippines salaries for different levels of experience (Junior, Intermediate and Senior Roles), to see what your planned team would cost.
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