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A remarkably brief guide to shifting marketing offshore: Part 2

The initial section of this guide are available here.

In Part I of the article we explored Context vs. Skill since it pertains to marketing tasks. Tasks requiring higher degrees of cultural context and skills are best done nearer to home, while tasks with lower degrees of context and skill are candidates to automate or move offshore.

This matrix summarizes the model:

All images: Spence Darrington

Applying the matrix

As the model does apply to any facet of marketing, heres how it could connect with these areas:

  • Design
  • Website management
  • Marketing automation
  • Events

These examples serve as inspiration to take into account how Context vs. Skill principles can connect with your marketing delivery; they’re not all-inclusive, but represent tasks Ive seen executed successfully by using this framework.

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Convincing the naysayers

Having an knowledge of Core vs. Context principles and these examples, it is possible to apply this framework to your marketing delivery functions and map out options. Ironically, this is actually the easy part. The hard part gets others to get in.

Listed below are common objections youre more likely to hear.

  1. Were special. While working being an FTE at Microsoft, I heard this objection on every continent when i caused local marketers to offshore tasks within a centralization strategy. As time passes, an obvious pattern emerged showing only 20% of the tasks were truly special and had a need to remain local while 80% of the tasks were common and may be achieved anywhere whatever the country. The 80% was low-context work we bundled up and did offshore while local marketing teams kept the higher-context 20% work.
  1. Youre displacing local talent. Almost without exception, removing the low context work freed up local marketers to pursue higher context, more value-added activities. A far more canny tactic will be advocating to obtain while watching disruptive trends of automation and offshore which are likely inevitable in todays modern workplace.
  1. It’ll be slower. An incredible selection of powerful project management tools (Asana, JIRA, Workfront,, Trello, Wrike, etc.) and collaboration tools (Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.) digitize the marketing supply chain and effectively unite workers under an individual, virtual roof. While we might take delight in knowing a team member is down the hall, its that comfort. The virtual version of down the hall has proved very effective.
  1. It is possible to only offshore simple tasks. While low-skilled, low-context work may be the easiest to offshore, highly-skilled work is viable with the proper approach. Having a resource on-shore who deeply understands context could work with marketing stakeholders to assemble and synthesize requirements, translating them for offshore teams. With a disciplined method of defining and documenting, those teams can perform amazing lower-context, highly-skilled work.
  1. Offshore is for big companies. Ive seen an organization with significantly less than 10 people successfully leverage an offshore team to supplement their work. You can find professional services firms with attractive rates, robust services, and track records of success prepared to assist you in your offshore journey.

Dig deeper: Driving marketing at scale: Moving from the decentralized to centralized model

Offshore isnt a silver bullet and really should be carefully considered. However the principles of Context vs. Skill are old, are larger than marketing, and will be employed to any discipline. Objections may arise, however the case for thoughtfully sourcing talent from diverse markets will probably be worth consideration.

Done some offshore of your? Have feedback with this model? Id want to trade notes. Get in touch with me on LinkedIn and tell me whats worked for you personally.

Dig deeper: How work management tools are connecting marketing teams and processes

Opinions expressed in this post are those of the guest author rather than necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


Spence Darrington is really a Managing Director and marketing scale expert at Bridge Partners. Ahead of Bridge, Spence worked for Microsoft, Expedia Group, and Ford Motor Company helping transform their marketing models to attain scale. While at Microsoft he pioneered B2B marketing shared services for delivery, building a business of 500+ execution experts located in hubs all over the world. Spence holds a Bachelors degree in International Relations from Brigham Young University and a Masters running a business Administration from Purdue University. Spence lives in the Seattle, WA area.

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