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Donna Caputo
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Should we outsource our direct response campaigns? What you may be missing.


Most nonprofits use direct response campaigns—such as mail, email, telefunding, and telemarketing—to solicit their supporters. In many organizations, staff often handle the creation and execution of multi-channel direct response campaigns. As your organization grows and the methods of communicating with your supporters proliferate, managing direct response campaigns internally may take more and more of your time and leave you questioning if your team should continue to handle it all in-house. If it is time to think about outsourcing your direct response marketing, it is important to thoroughly examine all aspects:

Expertise
  • In what areas can an outside source provide expertise that you may not have on staff? What could the vendor do that you don’t do currently to take advantage of the latest direct response industry trends?

  • Are there aspects of your organization’s mission, supporters, and culture that your staff are best-situated to understand?

  • How can a third-party vendor help you plan the strategy for intricate, multi-channel campaigns?

  • How can a vendor assist in segmenting your lists so you can target the people who are most valuable and most likely to respond?

  • Can an outside vendor improve the designs of your mail and email pieces to give them a polished, coherent look?

  • Can an outside vendor provide in-depth analysis of your campaign results?
Time
  • Calculate how much time staff spend on direct marketing tasks that could be outsourced. Consider everything—planning strategy, designing print or email pieces, writing copy, managing data, and analyzing campaign results. How much time could be saved if those tasks were outsourced? Be sure to factor in some time for your team to support and manage an outsourced vendor. How could the time savings translate to dollars?

  • How does the cost of staff time and materials currently spent on direct marketing compare to the expense of using an outside vendor?

  • How could staff work differently if they had that time to devote to other tasks, due to direct marketing outsourcing? What projects could you launch if staff had time to devote them? 
Technology
  • What kinds of technology can an outside vendor provide that you do not have in-house? Can an outside vendor help you take advantage of direct response channels you are not currently utilizing?

  • Can the vendor give you the flexibility to scale operations up and down, depending on your program’s volume throughout the year?

You might choose to use outsourced vendors for some aspects of your campaigns, but not for your entire direct response program. In that case, look for firms that specialize in the areas where you want assistance. 

Whatever your decision about outsourcing versus doing work in-house, make sure it will help you achieve your goals for direct response campaigns. Any change you make should help you improve response and increase your ROI.