Measuring the true cost of creativity

Written August 21, 2011 • Steve Perry

It is relatively easy for an organisation to determine the true cost of manufactured goods – a combination of raw material, fabrication, marketing and distribution, labour and overhead costs. It is much more difficult to determine the true cost of services.

Services are labour-intensive, not capital-intensive. Their value is not so much in what they provide today as in what they contribute to the future; and comparison and evaluation are always qualitative, seldom quantitative. Here are some things to consider when evaluating how to handle your requirements for creative services.

A need for specialists

Being efficient and competitive in today’s global economy not only requires an organisation to utilise the most sophisticated of resources, but also to maintain a high degree of flexibility. The only way to accomplish both cost-effectively is to employ a core staff of managers and to supplement them with trusted outside specialists when required. This way, it is possible to employ the best possible talent at competitive costs.

Specifically, when it comes to creative services, it is just about impossible to directly employ enough talented individuals – copywriters, graphic designers, website developers, illustrators and photographers. Fear not, skilled help is at hand.

Genuine value

Buying in professional design services as and when you need them can be highly cost-effective in the long-run, far outstripping any benefits of trying to handle matters internally. This is a genuine value approach. You pay only for what you require, wherever and whenever it may be needed.

However, choose only the best. Nothing, marketing or otherwise, is inexpensive if it doesn’t work. Some communications challenges take special talent, some don’t. But when talent is crucial to success, it seldom pays to compromise. When effectiveness is critically important, hiring an outside specialist is always the least expensive and most productive alternative. Moreover, if objectivity is important, hire an objective, outside source.