Millennial Executives: The New Champions of Outsourcing (Almost Everything)?

Generation Y has come of age.

Better known as millennials, this cohort is now in their late 20s to mid-30s. The entry level positions they occupied in the 2010s are a distant memory – many now hold management positions, and are, in some cases, seated in the C-suite.

Many Millennials have taken an entrepreneurial route with their career and have built businesses from scratch in the last decade, leveraging a digital marketing savvy uniquely acquired via an internet-focused coming of age. (The ever-expanding tech boom certainly helped create favorable conditions, too.)

In his 2007 internet-breaking book, “The 4-Hour Work Week,” Tim Ferris shed ample light on the power of outsourcing and utilizing virtual assistants to gain back one’s most precious asset: time. Time to be used for living and enjoying life, instead of waiting to “live your life” once one reaches retirement. Outsourcing is undoubtedly a time-saver, and with the incredible growth of the “gig economy” in recent years (think Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, DoorDash, Instacart, and more), millennials in leadership positions appear inclined to outsource work to freelancers and agencies to fit the needs of their fast-growing companies.

With a “hustle and get it done” type of mentality, millennial leaders seem more willing to utilize outsourced companies and agencies to fill short term or long-term engagements. In a still-relevant 2017 Forbes article titled, “How do millennials feel about outsourcing?”, Larry Alton outlined the following factors that contribute to millennial leaders changing the norms of the workplace:

  • The gig economy
  • Low loyalty
  • Taking what they can get
  • Tech, remote work, and flexibility
  • Millennials as outsourced workers
  • Millennials as outsourcers

Think about this scenario: It’s 2017 and a 31-year old millennial entrepreneur (let’s call her Amber) starts a fitness apparel brand and begins by sourcing a manufacturer to produce her clothing. She needs help with website development, so she hires a guy she knows to help her build a website on the Shopify platform. She creates her social media page and an email program to have digital advertising at the ready. She secures a warehouse and distribution company to help with inventory management. Amber hires a creative freelancer to help develop branding and creative assets. Amber launches her fitness apparel brand as CEO with 2 freelance staff and a warehouse to ship merchandise. She has invested $50,000 of her savings and is hoping the company will succeed. Fingers crossed!

Fast forward 3 years, to 2020: Amber’s fitness apparel brand is a now a 5-million-dollar company! She has hired 15 full-time staff to help with the day-to-day work of customer service, merchandising, creative, HR, digital marketing, social media, operations, and more. As the COVID-19 pandemic keeps people at home and away from gyms, people are turning to home fitness to achieve their health goals. Amber’s company experiences explosive growth and struggles to keep up with demand. The company is still small, but 2021 growth is on track to be their best year yet. The company still operates purely online, direct-to-consumer, with no retail stores, and its only investment in marketing and advertising, to date, has been in the digital channels.

Amber, however, is starting to see diminishing returns from her digital marketing investments, despite increasing site traffic statistics.

So, what should she do?

One easy solution would be to blend the digital and print channels, and implement a postal retargeting program, since Amber doesn’t have the time or budget to start a full-fledged catalog. (But, that’s definitely a goal for 2022.) Amber retains an agency to quickly execute a postal retargeting program. Within a month, the company is sending postcards in the mail to prospective shoppers who have abandoned their carts or ended browse sessions on the site without making a purchase.

The postcard with an offer finally gets more people to complete their purchase and the postal retargeting program is a success! The investment in the program has more than paid off and the ROAS is 5x that of the non-branded search program into which Amber was pouring money. This postal retargeting program also reactivated some customers that hadn’t purchased from the brand in more than 2 years, but who had been recently and frequently browsing the website.

Believe it or not, this fictional scenario I described above happens, in reality, all the time. Many of CohereOne’s client engagements begin with a postal retargeting launch, where the upfront financial and operational commitment isn’t intimidating. Proof-of-concept tests can be short-term – if site traffic volumes are sufficiently high, it is well worth consideration. Results are also updated in near real time, so one can truly grasp the incremental lift that a direct mail program can deliver to a previously digital-only marketing investment.

Postal retargeting by hiring an outsourced agency can help grow profits, without having to hire internally. We at CohereOne do just that, and we would love to help your brand.

If you have any questions about outsourcing an agency to start a print media test, please reach out to me at lminer-voigt@cohereone.com

And lastly, because I’m always fascinated by intergenerational differences in habits and beliefs, I’ll leave you with my favorite Saturday Night Live skit highlighting the “millennial struggle” – Millennial Millions.

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