Deb de SherbininToy and game companies are increasingly turning to outside suppliers to help them at various points in their product life cycle. The right resource can contribute in meaningful ways to the process, providing optimized solutions and adding profit to the bottom-line. Here are five key reasons you should consider hiring outside professionals.

  1. Experience
    We live in the age of specialization. Companies face challenges that require specific skills from those charged with the task of meeting them - skills they may not possess in-house. With the plethora of specialized resources available today, it's likely that you'll find a qualified individual or group that will allow you and your company to gain expertise, insight, and problem-solving capabilities - capabilities you can tap quickly and efficiently. Look for a firm that is experienced in the youth product industry, with a track record of creating and marketing products for children and their families. As a result, you will avoid one if the biggest pitfalls of outsourcing: funding "on the job learning".

  2. Fast-Track Response
    Opportunities appear quickly in the youth market and disappear almost as fast - that's an axiom for the business. An outside resource can hit the ground running and deliver solutions quickly, whether it be developing a new product, refreshing an existing product line, utilizing a new license, or creating and executing a marketing plan to support a new product introduction. They also offer the added advantage of being able to concentrate on a problem exclusively without the distractions of other day-to-day responsibilities. Be sure to discuss deliverables and timelines when you request a proposal, and look for a firm that spells out their process and makes firm time commitments.

  3. Market Intelligence
    Yes, it all starts with a great product concept, but that's just the beginning. Companies often have to think through issues like the competitive environment, the ideal target market, distribution strategy, pricing and positioning. Doing this effectively often requires research, which is always worth the investment when it helps a company avoid "wishful thinking", "best guesses" and the shortfalls that can result when products are developed and marketed by "gut feeling". Identify a resource that has not only commissioned quantitative and qualitative research, but has leveraged the resulting data through careful analysis and interpretation.

  4. Expertise in Special Services
    Generating awareness for a new product and creating "buzz" in the marketplace require a sound marketing strategy. Product design requires cost-effective manufacturing. Promotional campaigns require win-win partnerships. By outsourcing, you'll gain instant expertise in each of these areas without the time-consuming task of recruiting new employees with the right skill and fit, or the overhead associated with additional permanent staff. It can be particularly attractive if an outsourcing firm integrates several of the required services, providing a time-, money-, and hassle-saving solution.

  5. Isolate Risk for New Growth
    With aggressive growth objectives and high expectations from your Board of Directors, launching a new initiative is always accompanied by a key question - how fast will your business grow before you need to staff up? In the interim, you can turn to experienced professionals to help you establish your new product or line in the marketplace. If the new business opportunity doesn't meet growth expectations, you have avoided making a long-term commitment to overhead costs such as acquiring additional space, salaries and support staff.

To get started, first do your homework. Find specialists that most closely fit your needs and budget. Don't be afraid to ask tough questions about capabilities, qualifications, and specific commitments of personnel and process. A successful outsourcing relationship requires effort. Start by providing good direction about your objectives and relevant background information. It will help your suppliers provide solutions that are optimized not only for your company, but for your customers and sales channel as well. And remember to be open and inclusive at all times - that's how the best work gets done.

Deb de Sherbinin is the founder and president of KidSmart. Founded in 1993, KidSmart is a marketing and product development firm that provides companies access to senior-level professionals with demonstrated success in bringing products to the marketplace. For more information contact Deb de Sherbinin at 978-526-8524 or

; or visit .

Outsourcing: Five Good Reasons Why It's Your First Place to Turn

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