The Great Debate: In-House vs. Outsourced Marketing

How to Decide Between In-House
Marketing, an Agency or a Combination
of Both.

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When deciding how best to select and organize your marketing team, one consideration tends to trump all: budget. It’s true that the decision to outsource or maintain an internal team can have a huge impact on your overall spend, but there are also other factors to keep in mind when making this important call. Staffing, quality and return on investment (ROI) can all be affected by your decision.

In this article, we’ll look at the pros and cons associated with in-house and outsourced marketing.

What Is Outsourced Marketing?

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The term “outsourcing” has become a bit of a boogeyman, conjuring up images of disinterested workers in far-off places. In this case, outsourced marketing refers to the practice of hiring an external agency to plan, execute and manage your marketing and advertising processes. The best agencies learn everything there is to know about your business — including your history, differentiators, customers and goals — then execute campaigns that directly impact your bottom line.

Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of outsourced marketing.

The benefits and drawbacks of working with a marketing agency.
When deciding if a marketing agency is the best option for your business, it’s helpful to consider the pros and cons.

The Pros of Outsourced Marketing.

Specialized Expertise.

Marketing agencies offer the benefit of wide-ranging expertise in a range of disciplines — all for a flat project fee or monthly retainer. So rather than hiring individual specialists in content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), graphic design or web development, for example, your company can benefit from the combined knowledge and creativity of a seasoned team with all the skills you need (and even some you don’t know you need just yet).  

Fresh Perspective.

In addition to diverse talent and technical knowledge, agencies have broad, cross-industry awareness of the ways in which various marketing tactics can be deployed. As such, they can offer an unbiased, fresh perspective on your messaging, market opportunities and goals, helping you to identify innovative strategies an in-house team may not have considered.

Scalability and Flexibility.

With an outsourced team, you can scale your marketing efforts quickly and efficiently. As your business grows or marketing needs change, you can easily adjust the scope of your engagement with the agency by adding or removing services as needed. If, for example, you want to experiment with digital advertising, but don’t have the resources to do so, you can simply enlist the help of your agency. Such flexibility allows you to stay agile and creative for a relatively minimal cost.

The Cons of Outsourced Marketing.

Limited Control.

When partnering with an agency, you run the risk of losing control over creative direction, messaging and strategic decision-making. To prevent this, it’s important to vet an agency before committing to the relationship. You’re looking for a partner who communicates clearly, listens well and genuinely cares about the success of your business. When you trust your agency to prioritize your preferences and goals, you don’t have to worry about losing control.

Potential for Miscommunication.

Since many agencies charge an hourly fee, transparency and effective communication are essential. If an agency misunderstands your priorities, for example, they might devote too many hours to a project of lesser importance, forcing you to choose between postponing the development of something critical or increasing your budget for that month. Again, when you find an agency that listens well, communicates candidly and “gets” you, you can avoid these pitfalls.

What Is In-House Marketing?

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Simply put, keeping your marketing in-house means you hire an internal team to handle everything from digital ads to PR. As with outsourced marketing, there are advantages and challenges associated with this approach.

The pros and cons of hiring an in-house marketing team.
Thinking of hiring an in-house marketing team? This list of pros and cons will help you decide if it’s the right option for you.

The Pros of In-House Marketing.

Control and Flexibility.

An internal team gives you complete control over your processes and tactics. This means you can determine your own creative direction, messaging, strategy and internal workflows. Moreover, with an in-house team, it can be easier to quickly pivot when necessary and interact with customers in real-time.

Deep Brand Understanding.

Depending on the team, an internal marketing department may possess a deep and thorough understanding of your company’s brand, enabling them to create campaigns that align with your mission and values. This can result in effective messaging that consistently reinforces your brand identity.

The Cons of In-House Marketing.

Limited Expertise.

While in-house marketing teams may be familiar with the company’s brand, they often lack the expertise and experience necessary to execute complex marketing strategies. This can result in disappointing ROIs and campaigns that fail to reach the intended audience.

High Cost.

The cost of staffing your own team includes more than base pay. It also involves recruitment costs, onboarding and training time, benefits, expensive technology and software subscriptions. Moreover, when employees leave, your investment in their development leaves with them.

Lack of Objectivity.

Sometimes, being “too close” to the company’s culture and goals can backfire, resulting in campaigns that are too inwardly focused, don’t meet the needs of the target audience or don’t effectively differentiate the business from its competitors. An external agency, on the other hand, has the benefit of distance and perspective, which can contribute to the creation of more effective campaigns.

The Best of Both Worlds: Combining an In-House Team with an External Agency.

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In some cases, a combination of both in-house and outsourced can be the best option. Many small-to-mid-size businesses choose to hire an in-house marketing manager, for example, to handle day-to-day communications with the agency while executing a portion of marketing tasks on their own. This approach can help busy executives delegate the management of smaller projects and streamline communication between the company and its agency. The key is to know your organization’s strengths and outsource the projects for which you lack sufficient resources.

Interested in partnering with an agency that understands your values, preferences and goals? Reach out. We’d love to help you take your business to the next level.

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