why we dont outsource overseas

There are very good reasons that Banter doesn’t outsource any work overseas.

In my 20+ years of experience, I have actually used many outsourcing tools internationally, to look for efficient ways of doing things and doing things differently.

I’ve crowdsourced logos, websites, flyers, invitations and brochures. I’ve also looked at third parties out of India, Pakistan, Israel, Vietnam and Thailand to build websites. This isn’t new. I’m talking 2009. You might have used Fiverr, 99 designs, Upwork or Freelancer.com.

What I learned, very quickly, is you get what you pay for. These sites use automated tools to create websites and marketing materials. Cheap? Yep. Good? Sometimes. Unique? Never.

To build my previous agency’s website, I used one of these suppliers. I provided the design files and the website turned out nothing like the designs, and on top of that, SEO best practice didn’t exist. I had a website that looked awful, couldn’t be found by someone doing a search and was a waste of money. I was forced into an arbitration meeting, which meant I was taking arbitrary-resolution calls at 2am as I didn’t want to pay for the horrendous outcome. I won my argument, but I still had to pay half of the bill and received a website that was absolutely useless. Nothing that I asked for, nothing that could be fixed.

Then I crowdsourced my previous agency’s logo. I offered $400 and within 7 days, I received 357 logos to choose from. 99% of them were made of WordArt, and worse still, copying brands like Microsoft and just replacing the name. 357 logos didn’t give me more options. It wasted my time wading through the crap to find just one that was remotely good to work with. When we agreed on the logo, we asked the designer to create our stationery and brand guidelines. They asked what that meant. Back to the drawing board.

Today I tried another tool and created these logos below. Dreadful in my opinion. And if this tool offers me these designs, they also offer the same designs to everyone else, meaning you’re likely to find your logo design for another company.

crowdsourced logos

I changed one piece of information in the tool, and look what I have now 👇. Look familiar? Not exactly inspiring or original and definitely not representative of how I perceive my brand or how I want our clients to see us either.

outsourcing logo designs

Another common outsourced model is to use a third party Western company, offering an intermediary role; Westerners managing offshore teams, and claiming to build financial resilience in disadvantaged or very poor communities internationally. Now, what I learned from that is they tell a fantastic story, but without any visibility of how that actually plays out in that country. For those individuals, I uncovered that full time staff members working 40 hours a week we’re being paid around $7 per hour. Australian companies though, were paying much more than this. That’s not creating a sustainable economy, that is simply feeding modern slave labour. It happens in the fashion industry with sweatshops. Making an ethical choice is my choice. I’m choosing not to feed the engine of inequality.

The primary reason that we don’t outsource any of our work outside of Australia, and actually very rarely outside of the Highlands, is that I’m trying to create local jobs.

 

The Highlands is a beautiful place to live, but it’s a difficult place to work. We all want life flexibility. We all want to put our years of experience into practice. There aren’t many local employers who can remunerate this experience that we’re bringing to the table. That’s what Banter is doing. I’m paying wages well and truly above what is usually paid within the Highlands and commensurate with experience. It’s why my team choose to work part time because they can afford to.

A common pitfall: building a website overseas.

Websites have a purpose. Websites may look nice, but if they’re not fit for purpose, they’re useless. Most websites have a dual purpose:
a) a proof point for customers to validate you; and
b) to be found by search engines when customers are looking for you, your products and services.

If your website hasn’t been built with SEO in place, from the beginning, what you have is something that looks lovely and can never be found. It’s like having a box of brochures in your office, and expecting people to somehow pick them up, they’re not going to find those brochures unless they’re distributed.

SEO is one of those mystery words for a lot of people. But it’s really not difficult to understand. It’s optimizing a website so that it can be found by a search engine. Optimizing means that there’s some backend work that needs to be done, things that you may have heard of such as H1 headings, meta descriptions, title tags, alt text on images, keywords and social optimisation. This doesn’t require coding, what it requires is a developer to use some common sense with SEO practice, so that your website is fit for purpose.

Keep this in mind, where there’s mystery, there’s margin. I have seen numerous businesses be charged no less than $1,000 a month to maintain their SEO. When I delve into what those businesses are paying for, they’re paying for nothing. They’re not receiving anything that is useful from an SEO perspective. If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.

Pros and Cons of Offshoring:

Pros
Cheaper. If you’re going to pay someone between $7 and $10 an hour as a graphic designer, someone who has spent years learning and crafting this skill (because design is a skill), I actually find that insulting. It’s why people have cheap haircuts, and then it looks like a cheap haircut. It’s why I see logos being produced for $40 and I can find 200 other logos that look exactly the same except for colour or name. I don’t think that creates a very strong brand. I actually think it makes the brand look very, very poor. If you want your brand to be made of substance and meaning, you need to invest in it.

Quickly Scale. If you’re beefing up your needs for a short time, you can scale that team overnight. It means you don’t have to scale your own resources or overheads to meet your demands.

24-Hour Support. Great when you send something at 9pm and have it back for review by the time you’ve finished your morning coffee the next day.

Cons
Expectations. Western expectations vary wildly from what is commonly delivered from overseas providers. Be clear about what you expect and what they will deliver.

Communication. Picking up the phone or a video conference call goes a long way compared to emails. Emails have tone. Emails can be misread. If communication isn’t clear throughout the process, the whole experience will fall over quickly. Time zones can make this incredibly difficult.

Training. Language barriers exist and increases the chances of lack of quality control or decreased production efficiencies. Managing that remote team can prove harder than managing a local team.

Local Jobs Economy. Providing jobs overseas means there are less jobs in Australia.

The Iron Triangle.

the iron triangle

Whether we’re talking marketing or building a house, these three things come into play. You can have a cheap website and it can then be delivered quickly, however it will compromise on quality. Or you may need all the bells and whistles on your website but you might find that it’s not cheap and can’t be completed quickly. You might need to compromise on the timing, because of the functionality or the complexity of your build with all those bells and whistles. Keep that triangle in mind. As soon as someone says cheap to me, I know that they’re not actually willing to invest in quality. It all comes back to purpose. I’ve only ever had one client say to me that the objective of the website is not to rank in Google. That client is in the Defence category, their customers don’t search for their business. They know their business, they know their contacts. The website is simply a proof point, not a discovery point.

I hope this explains why we choose to keep our work locally.

We are in full control and it also means that we take full responsibility for the work that we’ve delivered. There’s no passing the buck.

 

There’s no saying that we were reliant on a third party who didn’t deliver. This is us. These are real jobs. We are skilled and real people, not bots.

There’s no right or wrong answer to offshoring. Just be aware of the true reality.