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Think Locally, Act Globally

There is a growing demand of in-house agencies (IHA) to expand their services to a global scale with brand continuity and supporting local business partners as the primary drivers. Though extremely exciting, much thought and special considerations need to be taken into account for a successful expansion and implementation.

IHA groups first need to self-assess and work towards ensuring the current group’s fundamental infrastructures are in place and operating efficiently. Once capabilities have been established, the IHA must perform a thorough analysis of the global needs and plan a phased approach of the group’s expansion to ensure the best structure, processes and systems are in place. Explore many considerations as you plan to scale your team globally.

Service & Reporting Model
Creative teams can provide a range of services, which can be defined as global. It’s important to remain flexible and approach each opportunity as unique.

  • Full services provided by headquarters who support all global locations
  • Full services offered at each location with local or regional clients
  • Partial services provided at each location (volume dictates whether to staff locally); all services available at HQ; clients are served via hybrid approach
  • Headquarters utilizes outsourced location for overflow or specific project-type support (typically an offshored or outsourced venture)

A reporting model must also be considered:

  • Local roles report into local IHA leadership who report into HQ IHA
  • Local roles report into local IHA leadership who report into HQ IHA and local leadership has a dotted line to regional leadership
  • Complete independence locally with brand standards managed at HQ

Value Proposition
Global operations develop in one of two ways: acquisition of existing, independent creative teams and building a team from scratch. The first requires “selling” the value of centralization as local clients and leadership are often suspicious of improved services managed remotely. The second requires research and building a business case to determine whether the team will be sustainable.

The following value drivers must be considered and communicated when building a global team:

  • Quality (Brand consistency)
  • Cost savings
  • Timeliness
  • Comparisons to local agency spend
  • Culturally-sensitive output
  • Native language design skills
  • Client collaboration

Organizational Agreement and Support
To execute global expansion, it is critical to have all levels of support and agreement throughout the organization. Specific individuals must be identified to take on leadership roles to establish a successful global IHA.

Market Selection
When building a team from the ground up, market selection is critical. There are high performing markets per region, but other reasons to consider specific markets include company office locations and areas with lower labor costs.

Data Gathering & Needs Analysis
A thorough needs analysis should take place to determine ease of implementation and true need of services. Include key individuals from the company’s home offices and all markets to build trust, alignment and ongoing support.

Language
When operating in a different market, it is important to recognize and present information to various audiences in either English or the local language, employing primarily English in the early stages. At the implementation phase, communication to stakeholders should be in their local language. Hence, hiring a strong bilingual staff is essential.

Change management will be the main obstacle, especially if the local market has no internal group providing services. Cost savings and efficiencies will be the greatest benefits.

Recognize that scaling globally isn’t simple, so create a plan with a phased approach. Embrace it and empower your team to be problem solvers and adapt swiftly. Your plan should include a customer-centric approach, specialized skill sets, process modification and improvements and technology configuration. Only then will you be guaranteed success in your globalization efforts.


Cindy Ponce

As Cella’s Creative Services Practice Lead, Cindy Ponce consults with Fortune 500 companies on enabling their in-house agencies to deliver impactful creative work through the effective management of people, process, technology and finances. Cindy’s management competencies lie in building and managing internal agency model organizations globally and effectively managing cross-functional teams worldwide. She’s known for her passion and tenacity in delivering optimal solutions with exceptional service and quality work using proven methodologies. Prior to joining Cella, Cindy built and led an international team of 65+, servicing more than 40 countries. During her tenure, she spearheaded increased service offerings to include content development and interactive capabilities.