After more than a year during which many of us have been working from home, it is clear that we can be productive and successful in a 100% virtual setting. Video conferencing and collaboration tools have been widely adopted, and people have adapted their working habits quickly.
Now more than ever, more people are open to working with individuals or teams that are based anywhere in the world as long as they can be available during business hours. Being in similar time zones is useful, but distance is no longer an issue. That's where near-shoring comes in.
Near-shoring is delegating activities to a company in a nearby country within the same time-zone but has a lower cost structure. Since most of the work is now being done virtually anyway, distance is even less important than before. That said, it is still valuable to be a short and inexpensive flight or two away (because eventually we might want to have a few on-site meetings again). Time-zone similarity is even more relevant. Being one or maximum two time zones apart from our working partners makes it easier for everyone to comfortably be available throughout the work day for quick syncs, daily huddles, training, or even a “hands-on” virtual meeting.
For example, a higher ed institution may have a dedicated team of interdisciplinary digital marketers in Mexico. This team might be composed of a Facebook Blueprint certified marketer, a Google Ads certified marketer, a Google analytics certified analyst, a web developer, and a graphic designer. The team would be hired, trained, assessed, and technically developed by a partner in Latin America, but would report directly to the client in the US.
Getting near-shoring right for US-based higher education institutions is no easy feat. Here are some key points that institutions can use to achieve it.
Professionalism & Cultural Fit
We should always aspire to work with people that share the same professional values as ours. Few things are more frustrating than working with someone who has lower quality standards, a different sense of urgency, or someone who doesn’t give the same importance to their work and goals as we do.
Assuming that you have a strong work ethic, you should make sure that your colleagues are professional and knowledgeable. No one has all the answers, but the right attitude and energy is essential to learn, adapt, experiment, get things done on time, and achieve results.
Each industry is unique, and higher education is no exception. Understanding how digital marketing is applied to higher education makes it much easier to work on projects in the industry, reducing learning curves and making it easier to achieve the desired results.
It is important to find a partner that has a good understanding of higher education. This might be easier said than done, but it is critical to achieve a short learning curve and get things going as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Analytical and performance oriented
Math is a universal language. Being on the same (spread) sheet and looking at the numbers (goals, results, advancements, gaps, etc.) together makes it significantly easier to work together, identify opportunities, and focus on priorities.
As long as both parties understand this, and everyone has an analytical mindset, achieving results is almost guaranteed.
(P.S. Check this other blog post if you want to know more about why optimization is all about math).
Working with people whose native languages are different than our own is a bit harder than working with someone with the same mother tongue (all other variables constant).
In order to mitigate the effects of this issue, it is important to look for regions where English is a popular second language that is commonly taught starting in elementary school. It’s also important to look for companies that pay special attention to English-speaking skills during their hiring processes, at least for client-facing roles such as account management.
Which Activities Should be Nearshored
It is also valuable to determine which activities we may not want to offshore, such as copywriting, content creation (or at least edition), etc. For example, activities requiring a native English speaker are much better when done in-house or using US-based providers.
Traditionally, activities that have been successfully offshored or nearshored are IT, call center, math/analytics oriented.
In higher education digital sales and marketing, a few activities that can be successfully nearshored are:
- Digital analysis (data centralization & management, dashboard design & interpretation, and more).
- Digital advertising management (digital campaign set-up, structure, management, optimization, and reporting).
- Marketing automation & CRM management using tools such as Hubspot, Salesforce.com, Zoho, Marketo, Eloqua, etc.
- Landing page and form implementation as well as A/B testing.
- System integration, automation, and other custom coding.
- Initial contact (contact center) to have someone call every single lead ASAP.
- Other support contact center activities.
- And more
Sales (enrollment) is also an activity that can be partially near-shored, on a case by case basis.
Finding the Right Partner
There are only a few Latin American digital marketing agencies with experience devising student recruitment strategies for higher education in markets ranging from the US to South America, but there is one you can count on: JULIUS Connected 2 Grow.
Please let me know what you think about this approach, and if you have any ideas or questions that you would like to discuss, feel free to reach out to me or our team.