According to Gartner’s 2020 CMO Spend Survey, during the first year of the pandemic, a whopping 32 percent of marketing work formerly completed by an outside agency moved in-house. While the obvious benefit is cost-savings, this technique also increases efficiencies and allows strategic creative control.
Because they are fully dedicated to one brand, in-house agency teams are generally smaller than marquee agencies of record, and a slimmer team equals less overhead. However, during major communications and marketing campaigns, this can pose a challenge. When a significant amount of top-quality content must be produced and disseminated — social media posts, graphic design assets, blog posts, etc. — the in-house team can find themselves overwhelmed. What if you’re on multiple deadlines and your in-house agency is tight on bandwidth and in need of content production support?
Enter overflow support. “Adding contractors and freelancers will help you avoid hiring too many full-time equivalents (FTEs) unless and until a full workload is warranted and sustained by business needs,” writes Sally Witzky of Gartner. Tapping into flexible resources allows in-house agencies to “monitor resource allocation and to effectively use in-house talent.” In fact, 36 percent of survey respondents told Gartner they develop their digital marketing strategy sets in-house but depend on agencies and third parties for execution.
Creative360 is Creative Circle’s solutions division that helps clients with in-house agencies ramp up content creation during major projects. We draw from Creative Circle’s nationwide pool of creative, marketing, and digital talent to build overflow production studios that work seamlessly as extensions of in-house agencies. The in-house agency drives the overall project strategy, while Creative360 selects a team to provide clients with the highest-quality deliverables, whatever they may be.
Hiring freelancers to churn out content is a familiar strategy. But Creative360 provides even more value to clients by providing an experienced marketing expert to serve as engagement lead, free of charge. The engagement lead assesses how best to relieve the client’s pain points, curates a team, integrates them into the client’s existing systems and workflows, and oversees them to ensure they consistently deliver high-quality work on time. Engagement leads also provide full financial oversight, keep track of a client’s budget, and manage team onboarding, timecards, and training.
This is all done without the retainers and high fees of AORs and without the headaches of working with unfamiliar teams. And if a client loves a candidate, they can convert them to a full-time employee with ease!
Overflow production studios at work
One example — an international CPG house of brands was in the final phase of a campaign to boost brand equity but lacked a channel strategy to socialize the campaign. They needed a partner to help deliver a one-month campaign concept and social calendar and create more than 70 digital assets, in less than four weeks. Creative360 assembled a team of an art director, two designers, and a copywriter, and in three weeks, we created four animated banners, 51 social assets, and a newsletter. The client has retained Creative360 to direct its organic social strategy and take on more overflow projects such as sizzle reels, new product splash pages, and animated Instagram gifs.
“The challenge is to monitor resource allocation and to effectively use in-house talent,” writes Sally Witzky. “Adding contractors and freelancers will help you avoid hiring too many full-time equivalents (FTEs) unless and until a full workload is warranted and sustained by business needs.”
Another client, a national commercial real estate firm, needed speed, skill, and labor to manage the ever-growing workload of their local marketing teams. Specifically, they needed to relieve their teams of the ongoing, pressing task of updating templates for business and marketing collateral. Creative360 assembled a group of outstanding production artists and paired them with a skilled project manager to create a production design hub. Working closely with their leadership team, we deployed a process and tracking tool that aligned seamlessly with their established process. Our quick support and process implementation significantly increased output during the pilot phase, and nearly all Creative360 talent has been retained by the client for future strategic initiatives.
The bottom line
There are myriad situations where it makes sense to let Creative360 support your in-house teams with stellar content — you’re on deadline and understaffed and overwhelmed; you don’t need a permanent, full-time creative team but you need to produce a volume of impeccable content in a short period of time; you’ve just launched a massive campaign and your in-house agency needs some outside help to drive the project… Whatever your need, Creative360 has the people, the expertise, and the agility you require. Find out more at creativecircle.com/clients/creative360.
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Situations where you could use an overflow production studio
An overflow production studio is the perfect solution when you have the strategy covered, but you need extra hands to create assets during a major project. Maybe your agency of record is too expensive, or your internal team just doesn’t have the bandwidth to keep up. Clients often face these problems in situations such as:
- Developing assets for a marketing or advertising campaign
- Designing and launching a new website
- Rolling out a new line of products
- Leading an internal digital transformation
- Targeting new customers, or existing customers in a new way
- Implementing a new workforce or project management system
- Transforming your customer experience program
- Rebranding your company or products
- Building a diversity, equity, and inclusion program
- Transitioning to a refreshed companywide intranet