Wouldn’t it be great if there were definitive guidance on whether you should keep marketing in-house or use an agency?
In many cases, people take an all-or-nothing approach to debating in-house vs. agency marketing. But the reality is that context is everything—some tasks are candidates for outsourcing and some belong in-house. It all depends on team size, project complexity, and team specialty.
We know that “it depends” is never a satisfying answer, though. Just because every situation is unique doesn’t mean we can’t offer some guidance.
As you plan out your marketing operations, here are some things to think about in the “in-house vs. agency” debate.
Not Everything Should be Outsourced
Choosing to outsource marketing tasks is more a matter of “should we” rather than “can we.” Full-service marketing agencies can help you with anything from website management to SEO, PPC campaigns, social media, inbound marketing, lead generation, PR, and beyond.
Agencies pride themselves on providing expertise that fills gaps for your internal marketing team. With so many marketing tasks to juggle, this is a great proposition for marketers who feel there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Still, there are certain tasks that are better off in-house. For example:
Live Social Media Updates: Unless you have an amazing real-time communication plan in place with your agency, live updates should probably stay in-house. Whether it’s event updates or jumping in on a trending topic, you’ll be able to react faster to engage with your audience.
Certain Aspects of Social Engagement: Agencies can be great for social media strategy. And one thing that many marketers over look is an opportunity to bring agency reps to events to take pictures, interview executives, and follow event hashtags while you network. However, social media is all about authenticity. Let your in-house team have a voice on social to engage with your audience.
Customer Relationships: Fostering relationships with customers/prospects is the bedrock of your marketing strategy. An agency can certainly take care of tasks that build these relationships. Ultimately, you’ll want to own all the data and make sure you’re using insights to improve customer relationships on the individual level – this includes website chat tools and customer service responses.
If you think about the context of your own marketing team, you’ll probably think of other tasks that are better off in-house. Maybe your team is especially great at creating content but not as good at amplifying it on social—outsourcing to an agency can make up for where your expertise falls short.
Take Advantage of Agency Strategists
So often, in-house marketing teams feel they should only outsource a marketing task if it’s a low-level activity not worth their time. Agencies boost the productivity of marketing teams that are already stretched to their limits. But that doesn’t mean you should only outsource lower-level tasks like writing tweets for blog posts, finding images and researching topics, and scheduling emails.
There’s so much value in having agency strategists provide an outside perspective on your high-level marketing strategy.
If you’ve partnered with the right agency, they’ve likely worked with many different clients from your industry. Put that experience to good use and take their advice on strategies for content creation, event marketing, social media, video marketing, and more.
A Good Rule of Thumb for “In-House vs. Agency” Decisions
Think about your organization’s desired future state and the value to the organization that will be created once reaching that point.
Reaching that desired future state will often require the careful coordination of a series of strategic marketing campaigns and initiatives between your in-house resources and your agency.
Hire an agency to develop the plan and campaigns that will help your organization get there. Then, assess how your in-house resources can help make that plan a success. That is exactly what should be kept in-house and everything else, leave in the hands of the agency to execute.
Want some more insight into the relationship between agencies and their clients before making your decisions? Check out our eBook, The Complete Guide to Hiring a Marketing Agency.