Expand Your Agency’s Market Share and Profits

Outsource Your Digital Marketing Teams During Covid-19

Phillip Lew
Founder & CEO C9 Digital

Table of Contents

  • Introduction 
  • Covid-19 Impact to Global Economy
  • State of the Marketing Industry in the Face of Covid-19
  • The Silver Lining
  • Where the Biggest Opportunities Are for Digital Agencies
  • The Challenges
  • Opportunities for Agencies: Creating Globally Distributed Teams
  • Implementation: Easier Said Than Done
  • The C9 Digital Advantage



2020 has been a challenging year.

It opened with massive civil unrest in Hongkong due to a seemingly subversive extradition law. Meanwhile, Australia declared a state of national emergency as massive bushfires scorched the outback and killed as many as 500 million animals.

And as if that’s not enough, the world was brought to the brink of war when a US drone strike in Iraq killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. Retaliatory missile strikes ensued and for one tense moment everything seemed to point towards the probability of a third world war.

But perhaps the most defining event of the year was the declaration of the World Health Organization that Covid-19 is officially a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The world is in the middle of a pandemic.

All that happened in January 2020.

And in case you’ve been living under a rock for the past 10 months – technically, you should, per government health standards, lest you contract the deadly coronavirus – things have been a crazy roller-coaster ride since.


Covid-19 Impact to Global Economy

The US experienced the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression with an estimated 40% decrease in national GDP. In fact, monetary losses are currently at $US85 billion to date – and it’s still growing. 

The United Kingdom saw 11,000 physical shops close permanently due to the pandemic. They’re currently reeling from a 20% drop in their GDP.

Australia has not been spared despite their relatively admirable Covid-19 response. The land down under still reported a GDP loss output of US$160 billion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has since declared that it expects the global economy to shrink by up to 3% by the end of 2020 – that’s equivalent to around US$24 trillion in lost economic output – the worst economic contraction since the Great Depression in the 1930’s.

While things have decidedly gotten better towards the end of Q3 and onward to Q4 of 2020, there are still plenty of bumps along the road. However, there’s always reason to be hopeful as vaccine development is on overdrive and businesses have since learned to adapt and evolve.


State of the Marketing Industry in the Face of Covid-19

Perhaps the biggest impact the pandemic had on the marketing industry is the fact that a lot of the biggest marketing stages and events have been cancelled.

From international sporting events, concerts and world tours to conventions, summits and conferences, everything either got postponed or cancelled.

Adding the fact that a significant number of businesses that traditionally relied heavily on marketing closed up shop either temporarily or permanently, marketing professionals suddenly found themselves in the middle of a client crisis.

Even big brand names that have long been considered as resume clients for marketing outfits, drastically held back on their marketing campaigns. Some of these companies suffered severe economic setbacks that forced them to close down physical stores around the world.

The pandemic also affected the way target audiences reacted to marketing campaigns.

A new trend emerged where 87% of consumers appreciated brands and companies who go out of their way to provide timely and relevant information about the virus and how to help prevent its spread.

However, target audiences also became more critical of companies who seem to be ‘shamelessly’ using the pandemic as a marketing vehicle. This was evident with the negative backlash that McDonald’s received when they launched their social distancing campaign symbolized by the separation of their famous golden arches.

This highly unstable marketing atmosphere caused 73% of brands, marketers and advertisers to sharply hold back on their marketing spending for 2020.

And that’s just one side of the challenges marketers are facing nowadays.

The democratization of high-speed internet has also allowed the free flow of information to practically all corners of the globe.

Elite marketing campaigns launched by A-List New York and Hollywood Boulevard outfits can now be seen, copied and improved upon by unknown agencies from Southeast Asia, India, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

Not only are these offshore agencies able to replicate these campaigns, they can even surpass their quality at times. Plus, they can even offer more diverse and specialized services. And as the final nail to the marketing coffin, these offshore agencies can sell their services at far more competitive rates.

In fact, it is predicted that in the next 5 years, between 25% to 30% of all US businesses, regardless of size, will be outsourcing all or part of their marketing to offshore agencies. And it will only increase moving forward.


The Silver Lining

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for marketing agencies.

The disruption and forcible closing of traditional brick and mortar businesses have paved the way for new opportunities and the development of a unique business atmosphere.

While a lot of physical stores and shops have opted to close down, a significantly large number of businesses have decided to evolve and adapt.

It has been estimated that in 2020, 47% of businesses affected by the pandemic have gone online. And about 75% of these businesses who have transitioned to digital platforms have experienced some level of success.

This positive outcome has fueled hope in a lot of business-owners and entrepreneurs. In fact, analysts are in agreement that by Q2 of 2021, about 70% of businesses will have transitioned to some form of digital or online operation.

This growing exodus of businesses towards e-commerce platforms has also allowed a number of novel industries to take the limelight.

Last-mile delivery services have started to ramp up with the growing number of groceries, shops, restaurants and other retail establishments requiring delivery and logistics partners.

Digital transformation services are also getting increased demand as more and more businesses opt for digitalization. Services such as web design and development, graphic design, software development, social media management, digital marketing, local SEO and others are gaining plenty of traction both from local and national businesses.

Digitalization has also increased the number of direct-to-consumer services and products.

Indeed, as the pandemic caused a lot of business doors to close, it has, on the other hand, resulted in plenty of windows of opportunity to open – literally and figuratively.


Where the Biggest Opportunities Are for Digital Agencies

Big international marketing stages such as the Olympics, the NBA and other sporting events, world tours and concerts, international festivals and a host of other multi-million and multi-billion-dollar international gatherings and celebrations that usually serve as massive marketing platforms have all been postponed indefinitely by the virus.

However, for each 10-second marketing spot lost in live NBA games, between 7 to 12 local businesses have sprung up needing marketing firepower.

As previously mentioned, 47% of traditional businesses have decided to transition to ecommerce. All those businesses need new websites, online shopping carts, third-party application integration services, and other digital transformation services.

Not to mention the number of delivery and logistics companies who have also started to realize they need strong online presences themselves in order to attract partnership offers from these newly built online and ecommerce stores.

Social media managers and marketers are also becoming in-demand among these new breed of entrepreneurs as they vie for a significant portion of the market.

For the savvy business owners, SEO, SEM, PPC and media buying services are fast becoming a necessity. As these businesses begin to understand that they’re now operating in an entirely new battlefield, every single inch and every single advantage they can get for themselves means a lot.

So, while the pandemic definitely drew blood on a macro-economics scale, it has, however, caused an unprecedented micro-economics growth for local entrepreneurs. Online business transformation and Ecommerce is on a steep upward trend. As a result, digitalization services are also in high demand, along with other related incidental services.


The Challenges

This new reality is less than ideal for most digital agencies for a number of reasons.

First, the increase of prospective clients is within the demographic of local businesses with limited marketing budgets. Most agencies prefer clients with deep pockets.

This brings us to the next problem which is that most agencies are not meant to handle this increased number of prospective clients with very little spending capacity. But with big brands making major shifts in their marketing and starting to look for more comprehensive marketing packages and services, agencies have no choice but to take on these “smaller fish” if they are to survive. They have to do this while working on adjustments to their service offerings.

Moreover, most agencies are equipped to handle a limited number of major clients. In short, most agencies prefer (and are designed) to work with fewer but more high-paying clients. Handling more clients in order to break even will definitely put enormous stress on these agencies.

Next, these agencies usually rely on “template services” wherein their marketing strategies and services follow a fixed and usually inflexible program. Their business models are designed to scale up, not scale down.

Most importantly, these agencies rely on in-house talents which are decidedly more expensive. And with more work and less profits, these agencies can expect to operate only for so long.


Opportunities for Agencies: Creating Globally Distributed Teams

If you’re a digital agency who insists on using in-house talent only, you’re at a huge disadvantage.

First, you’re paying your people more money. Second, you’re paying a premium for maintaining a physical office enough to house your staff. Third, you cannot match the competitive pricing offered by offshore agencies.

Just imagine; Right now, all information, training, education, tools, resources, and strategies related to digital marketing are available to everyone who happens to be connected to the internet.

Marketing campaigns being launched by what used to be the industry untouchables in the US and elsewhere can be viewed, reviewed, and dissected by no-name agencies from countries you don’t even know exist.

These “unknown” agencies and “no name digital marketing professionals” have long discovered they can do it, too. Sometimes they can even do it better. And they can do it for less. In fact, it is predicted that in the next 5 years, between 25% to 30% of all US businesses, regardless of size, will be outsourcing all or part of their marketing to offshore agencies.

Guess what, these agencies don’t care about “resume clients” and 7-figure brand deals.

They’re willing to handle the marketing campaign of that local restaurant around the corner or the local grocery down the street who has decided to do online ordering and home deliveries.

They’re willing to take care of the social media marketing, SEO, SEM and PPC of the local real estate investor who used to have an office right across yours but has decided to do everything virtually from home.

They’re willing to take on the clients that are in abundance – the ones you’re reluctant to sign.

And the reason they’re able to do this?

Competitive pricing.

Check out this table that shows the differences in prices for popular digital marketing staff in various global labor markets:



The table speaks for itself.

To survive, you should begin to look at outsourcing as a means of expansion and a way for you to create a deeper specialization of your outfit. When you do this, you open a whole new world of profitability and productivity for your agency.

Imagine augmenting your SEO capability with a team of SEO Specialists from the Philippines whom you only pay $2,000 each and have your in-house SEO guy act as their team leader. How many more clients do you think you can serve?

Imagine having a team of full-stack developers from India being managed by your own in-house web developer. How much more business will your agency be able to handle?

Imagine having an army of graphic designers from Eastern Europe whose collective salary is equal to what you’d expect to pay your in-house designer – whom you can keep to manage your graphic design projects.

Augmenting your existing team with a globally distributed army of creative professionals puts less stress on your key people, enhances your image as a “global agency”, and allows you to handle clients from all budget considerations.

And get this – once you start expanding through outsourcing your creative team, you don’t only save up on payroll costs. You also save up on overhead costs such as office space rental, utilities, and other related expenses pertinent to maintaining a physical base of operations. And with the current pandemic, that’s one thing you also need to consider as a business owner or CEO.


Implementation: Easier Said Than Done

Clearly, if your goal is to remain competitive and become head and shoulders above your competition, outsourcing is the only smart option.

But how do you go about outsourcing your creative team?

Here are several ways:


  • You can build your own globally distributed teams yourself.

You can sign up for manpower sourcing and recruitment services such as Upwork, Monster, People-per-Hour, JobStreet, Totaljobs, ZipRecruiter, Onlinejobs.ph and so much more.

These are paid recruitment portals you can use to source out creative professionals. You can use these services for free, but a free account won’t give you access to search filters. That means if you use a free account to locate specific talents in these services, you’d have to go through their entire databases.

To use search filters, you will have to opt for paid accounts. The cost for these paid accounts vary from site to site. Usually, these have tiered accounts wherein the more you pay, the more filters you can use. Services like these can easily cost you anywhere between $499 to $4,999.

And it does not end there because usually, the databases in these resources are divided by global regions (ie: North America, South America, Africa, Middle East, Southeast Asia etc), and you’ll need separate accounts to search separate regions.

This means going this route can easily cost you $5,000 or more to look for a single professional and upwards of $15,000 if you’re going to build your own globally distributed creative teams.


  • You can use freelancers instead of building your own full-time globally distributed teams

Hiring freelancers is definitely cheaper than building your own teams.

However, you’ll still have to use the resources mentioned above to find suitable freelancers. So, this is also a costly option.

Moreover, consistency will also come into play with this option. You can get lucky and find a killer freelance copywriter, along with a badass freelance designer for one project, but end up with mediocre talent for the next one. This can be disastrous for your agency’s reputation and credibility.


  • You can partner with a traditional outsourcing company

There are plenty of companies who do traditional outsourcing services who can handle your creative services. This way, instead of looking for talents yourself, you can simply look for outfits who can actually do the work for you.

However, the problem with going this route is that depending on the projects and clients you have, you may end up working with more than one outsourcing company. This is because it’s extremely difficult to find an outfit that’s able to do every aspect of your digital marketing project excellently.

So chances are, you’ll be outsourcing to one company who specializes in web development and design. For SEO, SEM, PPC and media buying, you’ll be working with another outfit. Then you have another company taking care of your content creation and copywriting.

And since these companies have very little experience working with each other, chances are your overall results will be less than stellar.

So, is there any good option left?

Fortunately, there is. And that’s the C9 Digital option.


The C9 Digital Advantage

C9 Digital is a company that specializes in putting together globally distributed creative teams ready to work “inside your company’s world”.

Unlike traditional outsourcing companies who handle deliverables, C9 Digital focuses on handling your staffing needs. It’s the perfect hybrid of having an “in-house yet outsourced globally distributed team”.

For example, you sign a client who needs a website done along with an accompanying mobile app. They also need creative writing and copywriting services for their landing pages, as well as creative content assets for their marketing. Plus, they also need social media management and marketing as well as SEO and PPC services.

Instead of outsourcing each aspect of the project to a different company, what C9 Digital does is find the best professionals for you so they can all work under your supervision.

We have all the systems in place to find, screen, recruit, and hire the best talents for any creative position from the world’s top recruitment markets: Central and Latin America, India, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, South Africa, and the Middle East.

And since we’ll provide you with the staff you need to complete the entire project under your own roof, you have full control of the quality of work, the consistency of output and the overall result.

We hire, manage, and pay your staff but they can report directly to you. This represents the next stage in the evolution of outsourcing and creating globally distributed workforces especially for digital marketing agencies looking to expand their capabilities and augment their existing teams.

We can put a creative team together in any shape or size and for any purpose you can think of.

All our team members are fluent in English and are flexible enough to work in your local time zone.

The best part is, you can save up to 70% in payroll costs when you partner with us for your outsourcing and expansion needs. In fact, a major marketing firm in California has partnered with us for their creative professional staffing needs. Their CEO can’t stop talking about how much money he saved in payroll ($600,000 per month), as well as commercial office rent ($100,000 per month).

We can do the same for you.



 Phillip Lew helps digital marketing agencies, entrepreneurs, executives and employers all around the world leverage the power of outsourcing by building globally distributed remote teams of professionals that live inside your agency’s world and work within your local time zone. To learn more about C9 Digital feel free to visit their website at www.C9Digital.com and book a free consultation today