AGENCY VS. IN-HOUSE MARKETING: WHY YOU SHOULD STAY WITH YOUR AGENCY

Do you want to save money, be more efficient and retain control of your brand? Then you should consider in-house marketing.

This is how those in favour of in-house marketing make their case – by playing on your desire to add more zeroes to your bottom-line and to have more of a say in how your business is represented. They present it as the answer to all your problems and as the key to taking back control of your brand.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with arguing for in-house marketing. In fact, they do make a convincing case and raise some pertinent points. But they fail to show the extensive demands of successfully moving your marketing in-house. This begs an important question: What is lost in this process of adding a few more zeroes to your bottom-line and retaining control of your brand?

Before you think of moving your marketing in-house, consider the other side of the coin: What value does an agency add to your business and brand?

Here are a few areas to consider…

Specialised Skills and Expertise 

Businesses have a dedicated marketing person or team that handles all their communications. They probably have a marketing degree, excellent organisational skills and can write an incredible speech or press release.

But this doesn’t mean they can do digital marketing.

Digital marketing is indeed marketing, but in many ways, it’s not. At least not in a traditional sense. Since it relies on digital channels, an effective marketer needs to have intimate knowledge of the channels and how audiences consume them.

Finding a marketer (or team) with this specialised knowledge, over and above their marketing prowess, would be difficult, if not impossible.

You could always upskill your marketing team or even hire a team of specialists to handle your digital needs. But this is costly and time-consuming – two things you want to avoid by going the in-house route.

With an agency, you wouldn’t have to worry about the limitations of your marketing team. You would have peace of mind knowing that your digital marketing is being taken care of by a capable team of industry professionals.

A Fresh Perspective and Insights on Best Practice

The argument is that in-house marketing would give you control over your brand and how it is positioned.

While this could work in favour of your business, it could also have a negative impact. Being too focused on your business and your vision can create a blinkered perspective that prevents you from seeing objectively. It could also limit creativity and produce a stale marketing approach that is highly functional yet unimaginative.

Alternatively, agencies service more than just your business. This means that they are constantly exposed to new ideas. This allows them to be agile and bold in their marketing approach for you.

For example, say your business is in the freight and logistics sector. An agency that also services a brand in the FMCG sector could use insights from successful campaigns in that industry to creatively solve your logistics-specific marketing need.

The value of agencies lies in their strategic thinking and exposure to best-in-class examples across a range of industries. This is echoed by Diageo’s North American Director of Digital Marketing, Jack Acker, who champions the agency, stating that “a lot of our strategic thinking is still coming out of agencies. We need agencies to understand the ever-changing landscape”.

 Access to the Latest Tools and Software

Imagine forking out thousands of Rands for content-planning software or a data analytics tool. Quite frankly, it’s not worth it. Especially since you would only be using it to track and plan only your campaigns.

For an agency, it is not as costly, since they use the tools for many clients. The cost is effectively shared across their marketing roster. They also use the software regularly – daily, if not weekly.

For in-house marketers, there is also the cost of hiring someone who can use these tools effectively. What’s the use of having world-class tools if there is no one to put them to good use?

Financially, it makes more sense to use an agency as the cost of access is built into their offering. This cost is effectively less than that of acquiring a whole suite of tools yourself.

Productivity

People often say in-house marketing is more efficient than outsourcing to an agency. After all, your in-house marketing team is only dealing with your business, so it should produce work at a faster rate than an agency, right?

It’s just one client, so everything should be expedited. But this is if you ignore the many disruptive internal processes, such as regular staff meetings and sick leave.

As part of the internal staff, in-house marketers have to attend staff meetings, training sessions and workshops. The time taken to attend these meetings and workshops is time away from marketing.

Sick leave is also a factor. No one has control over when they fall sick – agency and in-house marketers alike. But the difference is, to the agency, the client deadline is king. So they make a plan – they outsource to freelancers or get someone to work overtime – whatever it takes to meet the deadline. In-house marketers, on the other hand, do not answer to a third party and have the luxury of shifting timelines.

The agency runs on the urgency of honouring client deadlines, whereas the in-house marketers may have a more lax attitude due to their proximity to the business.

What’s the next step?

When it comes to your business, it’s best not to follow the herd. Take a moment to consider what your marketing needs are and whether your in-house marketing team has the expertise and capacity to fulfil them. Then, weigh up whether those needs couldn’t be better served by an agency.