In-house vs outsourced. You’re a business owner or a Marketing Director and you need to decide whether you invest in building a marketing team to conduct activity in-house or outsourcing it to an agency – so how do you decide?
Clearly there are pros and cons to each option and to ensure that you are making the right decision for your business, we’ve taken a look into some of the considerations below.
An in-house marketing team are absorbed within the culture of your business each and every day. They are bought into the company growth and success. This means that they live and breathe your brand voice, values and mission, providing consistency throughout all of your marketing activity.
Your in-house team benefit from continual training opportunities on your product/service portfolio as they will be working alongside the likes of Product Managers, Operations Directors etc. This gives great clarity of your offering, messaging and benefits to your customers etc which will be advantageous to your marketing activity.
Communication in many instances can be quicker and more streamlined. Unless you are a large corporate, you’re likely to be working in the same time zone, in the same language and in many cases, in the same office.
There is a perception that you have more control of your marketing team if they are working for you in-house rather than outsourced. This point is debatable as some marketing teams work very independently and many are now flexibly much more homebased, but there is still a perception that as they are ‘your’ team, their workload, working times and focus areas are within your control.
You have to invest your time and budget into the recruitment and appointment of the right marketing individuals to make up your team.
You have a high ongoing cost for the management of this marketing team – not only should you consider salaries but also all costs such as national insurance, work socials, training budgets, travel budgets etc.
Finding the right talent for your budget can be a challenge for some businesses. There are so many aspects to your marketing strategy and plan that you need a wide range of skills and expertise which are not necessarily found within just 1 or even 2 people. If you’re unable to find the right talent to cover all aspects, you may have to face the extra expense of supplementing your team with freelancers.
Creative idea creation is an extremely important aspect of the marketing team, but when your head is within the brand every single day it can have a negative impact on your creativity, making you more stagnant.
You have no people overhead costs, only the agreed agency spend budget to be concerned about. For this agreed agency spend budget, you’re likely to have a wide range of skillsets at your fingertips. The individuals employed within an agency should be up to date with access to the latest trends, technology and training to deliver the best possible experience to their clients. You benefit from this without having to invest your time alongside money to gain the skills of these marketers.
In many cases an outsourced marketing team are likely to have much more focus than an in-house team. Whether it is a project or a retained activity/number of hours an outsourced team have to be accountable for what happens to your investment and will be keen to demonstrate the value they have added. This means they are likely to be working in a much more efficient yet focused way to meet/exceed KPIs and target deliverables.
An outsourced agency can bring a new perspective because they spend their time being immersed in different campaigns/projects/brands. They experience what works well for other companies or industries and they can take those learnings and help apply them to your business. This can open an in-house marketer’s eyes to a tactic or strategy that they may have never considered before.
The flexibility and reactiveness of an outsourced team will always be greater than that of an in-house team. Whether you’re looking to outsource all your marketing activity or just a project. Whether you are a strategic marketer who needs assistance with delivery, or you have delivery resource in-house but you’re lacking the strategic thinking. All these bespoke options can be available much faster and more flexibly by working with an outsourced team rather than having to go through further employing in-house.
At the beginning of your partnership with an outsourced agency you will have to invest your time in immersing and training the agency on your brand, products/service offering and importantly your tone of voice. It is to be expected that even after this initial training you’re likely to need to support the agency with proofing/approving content and design in the early stages of an engagement. But the longer your relationship grows and the more you partner together; the outsourced team should become an extension of your in-house team.
In some cases communication can be slower between in-house teams and agency teams. Not being based in the same offices, sometimes not in even in the same country/language can add restrictions. What we find important is setting a clear process at the beginning of our partnership together. What is the best method of communication, how often should we be having account calls and who needs to be involved, how often do you want/need reports etc.
For some companies, outsourcing is an expensive option in comparison to utilising individuals who already reside in-house. Marketing should always be viewed as an investment rather than an expense, but if costs simply outweigh the value you feel you’d achieve from outsourcing then you need to seriously consider if it is right for your business.
Consistency of quality can be a con for partnering with an outsourced agency. If you experience a gap in perception between what you the business considers as good quality and what your outsourced agency considers as good quality, this is going to cause issues. Whether it is a one-off or an ongoing series, you have to be assured that the agency you have chosen to partner with are aligned to your perceptions, your aims and your expectations. If you cannot align, your partnership is unlikely to be long lasting.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to in-house vs outsourced and is not a decision to be rushed. Research is key, alongside analysing your business’ goals against the skills and experience and strengths and weaknesses of your in-house team or your available talent pool. Be realistic not optimistic with this decision. What is the best decision for the business at this moment in time and for the near future to reach your business goals? There is of course nothing to say that you don’t opt for a mixture, dependant on your budgets, where you seemingly are able to acquire ‘the best of both worlds’ if this works for your business, your team and your bank balance.
Key points to research include:
- Checking your values align with the prospective agency
- Understand if they have the expertise to help you reach your goals
- Checking their case studies and testimonials for real life examples of their work
- Starting the conversation with them to have a frank chat about your challenges and their experience to help you