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The pros and cons of agency vs in-house marketing team

Author Jude Peppis

Author Jude Peppis

Tues 16th Oct 2018

Marketing is the backbone of a company’s corporate communications. It covers everything from one-off projects, such as branding or building a website, to ongoing activity, such as blogging or social media management. Therefore, it is a major decision whether to employ an agency or to use an in-house marketing team. There are pros and cons to each when it comes to the specific needs of the business. Here, we look at what to consider to make the right decision for your company’s marketing requirements.

An outsider’s perspective

An in-house marketing team will live and breathe one brand and one brand only. Whilst this has certain advantages, it runs the risk of the team losing perspective and becoming too insular. An infamous example of this is the berated Pepsi advert. It was pulled amidst criticism that it trivialised Black Lives Matter. The in-house marketing team had to swiftly backtrack on the whole campaign and apologise to brand ambassador Kendall Jenner. An agency is highly likely to have more people watching what is happening outside the office. So, there will be lots of people developing a campaign, which could help to red flag any potential issues.  An agency is also going to be working across a number of different brands at the same time. Some of these may even be within the same market or sector. Therefore, you can benefit from their objective expertise and experience to bring your campaigns to life.

A ready-made team

By turning to an agency, you can benefit from an expert marketing team which can hit the ground running. Building an in-house marketing team can take a lot of time and patience. This may not coincide with your own busy times throughout the year. The sales and marketing industry as a whole has a turnover rate of 9.2%, which is higher than some other popular sectors such as engineering (4.9%) and technology (6.8%). It could be difficult to recruit and retain an in-house marketing team with a complete skill set, such as PPC, design or copywriting. An agency will have more than one person, or even a whole team, to look after each specialist area. One of the concerns about employing an agency could well be the cost. But how much would it cost to employ every specialist you need for a successful campaign? A marketing agency provides a flexible workforce with expertise, meaning that you have a higher chance of getting results. This makes it a cheaper solution in the long run.

Variety is the spice of life

A company’s marketing needs are unlikely to stay consistent throughout the year. A campaign launch or a seasonal event can mean you need to dial up or down your marketing activities. This is difficult when you rely on an in-house marketing team. You may need to hire and/or fire at a moment’s notice. With an agency, you can get the expertise you need only when you need it.

An agency could help to ensure diversity in your campaigns. Innovation and originality in line with industry trends are the bread and butter of a good marketing agency. Marketing professor Mark Ritson’s theory is that once you are employed by a brand, you are no longer a consumer of that brand. So, a marketing agency may be best placed to provide a fresh pair of eyes on your activity to avoid insular thinking. Repeatedly relying on an in-house marketing team runs the risk of your communications becoming a bit repetitive and ineffective. This is especially important when a survey found that nearly half of 1,000 small business owners didn’t know if they were marketing effectively – and 14% knew that they weren’t.

A unique insight

There are some things which only in-house staff will know. For example, an in-house marketing team will know branding guidelines like the back of their hand. They will know the perimeters in which they operate best. There should be established relationships with key staff throughout the organisation in place. The team should have done their segmentation and know who their target audiences are. They may even know how to reach them and get them to buy-in to the brand. An agency will have to do some legwork to get this in-depth knowledge themselves. But, an agency may have the tactical knowledge, experience and expertise that allows them to carry out activities faster with quicker results. This is why, if you do use an agency, they work alongside in-house teams to align all activity with that insider information. Research has also found that collaboration is key when it comes to an in-house marketing team working with an agency – with 55% saying is it a top consideration.

In-house marketing team or agency?

There are clear advantages to choosing an agency or working with an in-house marketing team. However, it doesn’t have to be as black and white as that. It may be that you pick and choose agency support to work alongside in-house personnel. That way, you stand to get the best of both worlds by aligning in-house expertise with the flexibility and reliability of agency support.

Whatever your marketing requirements.

The team here at The Typeface Group can help you, whether it’s for a one-off project or as part of a longer commitment.

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