Weighing The Pros And Cons Of In-House Vs. Outsourced Marketing
Increasingly brands are talking about bringing work in-house and building their own marketing teams. This shift isn’t new. In fact, it’s a wave that goes through periodic hiatus every few years like a seemingly never-ending tide.
However, this current wave is different, as we see a few things that haven’t happened in the past. Record-low unemployment has created more unfilled jobs than ever before, with the U.S. reportedly needing 230,000 more people with marketing skills. With a need for brands and agencies alike to invest regularly in training for unskilled staff, the battle to increase knowledge can be extensive and timely.
Thus, in-house and agency are competing to provide the best experience for candidates, and it comes down to who can offer the most robust opportunity to use their skills as well as the right training.
While this investment is respectable, how can brands decide whether to go in-house or continue working with an agency? Let's weigh the pros and cons of each:
The Pros Of Outsourcing
• The agency marketer is one who excels under pressure, sweats agility and expertise and has the battle scars across verticals, objectively. Agencies leverage vendors, partnerships, attend agency-specific conferences and incubate a specialized community in an environment where marketers can thrive.
• Agency team members work across multiple tactics, allowing for a broad cross-section of experiences. In an agency environment, team members lean on a plethora of peers with diverse expertise that can lead to approaching a problem with a unique view and perspective.
• Agencies are paid to perform and be accountable to results. If you aren’t happy with the relationship, you can source something new and leverage return on investment as a basis of the relationship.
• Agencies must be on the bleeding edge of process, technology and tactics.
• The agency relationship can provide business leaders with more time to focus on the business where they are best suited and be free to manage internal and operational opportunities.
The Cons Of Outsourcing
• Great agencies don't want to be order-takers and will support what they believe to be the right solution for your brand, even if that conflicts with your thoughts.
• If you don't hire the right agency, you could be faced with a product that doesn't meet your expectations, and it can be a costly fix.
• Some employees may feel threatened, unheard or confused, which could lead to lower productivity.
• Some agencies have their employees working on multiple projects. This can be valuable in terms of bringing a wide breadth of perspective to your business, but you might find it difficult not being the central focus of their day-to-day.
The Pros Of In-House
• You get the perks of having access to marketers who were hired to execute a strong business and strategic plan your company has developed. Having close alignment to these key performance indicators can be highly successful and provide a focus that an agency may not be able to replicate.
• Save yourself from the expensive and time-intensive process of selecting an agency. It isn't for every business, can be time-consuming, difficult to manage expectations and you may not be happy with what you hear.
• In-house teams can offer something that agency life rarely can (but that marketers want): the ability to dig deep and be completely immersed in all aspects of a brand.
• Many marketers eventually make the switch to in-house, and brand exposure isn’t the only reason. Often times, a more stable work-life balance is cited, as well as the desire to stop fighting tooth and nail for every dollar of investment they can get their hands on.
• Finally, having your own in-house marketing team means that work can fly out the door as needed, with your staff on-call whenever you need them. With an agency, this often comes at a premium that many brands don’t want to pay.
The Cons Of In-House
• Having inside experts can also come with inherent risks. For example, getting the right team in place can be expensive. Having a CMO, VP of Marketing, manager and/or specialist who will handle all of the day-to-day work can set you back over $300,000. However, to be successful across any market these days, you will need a robust team.
• Another risk of going in-house is the loss of varied expertise for one small fee. Many agencies’ services range from web development to social media marketing, and your fee goes to getting the best heads in a room and on your account.
• What’s more, while being completely integrated with your brand can be beneficial, it can also be a detriment. When you’re in the weeds, it can be hard to get that 10,000-foot view of what really is and isn’t working and how to move your brand forward. A good agency does well in this respect -- a great agency dedicates a “special ops” style team to this specific skill gap in marketing.
It’s crucial to weigh both sides to see what’s right for you. So, as you review your strategy for next year and the years to come, make sure that your money is invested where your brand will see the greatest return. The right decision will be the one that allows you to focus on what you do best: selling, closing leads and growing and operating your profitable business.
Source: Forbes by Eric Vardon