Bringing in Outside Talent: How to Make It Work

Jacqueline Zenn
Jacqueline Zenn



outside-talentOne of the most important things you can learn as a marketer and agency professional is that you can’t do it all yourself. Sometimes the most effective and intelligent skill that you can have is knowing when to bring extra talented help.

Why Hire Outside Help?

Not even the best of us know everything about marketing or advertising — hence the need to bring in “guest experts” in the form of consultants who have developed specialized skills. Also, sometimes there are one-off projects that are outside of your agency’s wheelhouse, so they require developing partnerships with experts in order to execute well and keep the clients happy, but it isn’t necessary to hire a full-time employee.

And sometimes the workload is simply too much for the full-time staff to handle, so temporary contractors and consultants are brought on board on a contractual basis just to get things done by the deadline.

Furthermore, successful consultants often have a depth of expertise that more generalist staff members simply don’t have the time to develop, allowing for more specialized and nuanced work in the end. And that can make all the difference between a satisfactory project and a great project that thrills the clients and may even win awards.

Onboarding Contractors And Consultants: The Process

There are several key aspects to making the most of bringing in outside help — and while it is similar to hiring a new employee, there are several key differences. It begins with the onboarding process — ensuring that both you and your team and the consultant or contractor(s) are on the same page as far as the goals of the project.

Also, laying out who “owns” what aspects of the project, a timeline and calendar, and even who will present what aspects to the client and when is essential. After all, deciding if the consultant or contractor will be client-facing is also important, especially at the beginning of the hiring process. This might seem obvious, especially if your team is used to working together and your collective process is like a well-oiled machine. Sometimes bringing in even the most talented outsider can throw a wrench into the works.

Naturally, establishing what the final goals and deliverables will be along with the estimated fees and payment schedule is key. Even determining who possesses intellectual property rights to the finished work is an excellent idea; it is usually the hiring agency, but the consultant or contractor may want to use the work in their own portfolio as well - so get the details worked out in advance.

Last but most certainly not least, make sure your agency team themselves is on board with the outside assistance. They shouldn’t feel threatened. Rather, you will get a better end result if they feel confident and excited to learn from an authority on a given subject,

A New Agency Business Model

Some agencies are indeed moving towards a model where they outsource much (if not all) of their production work but still keep account management, business development, and strategic concepting in house. In many ways, this can keep costs down and also attract unique talent to the agency.

After all, independent consultants and contractors tend to have entrepreneurial spirits, so working with outside talent can be a way to bring in new blood, fresh ideas, and inspire the full-time team to innovate from within. Of course, that improves not only the client work itself, but your agency’s overall expertise and knowledge base

Perhaps the adage jack of all trades, master of none can apply to agencies as well — which is why going “out of the house” maybe an increasingly popular move in the future.

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