In-House vs. Agency Marketing: What Is Right for You?
It’s the end of the year — that means it’s time to start planning where your business will head in 2022. And if you’re on the precipice of implementing a new marketing strategy, now is the perfect time to decide what type of team is right for you.
In general, you have two options to choose from: an in-house marketing team (or in some cases, a singular individual) or a marketing agency to do the work with you. You could also take a hybrid approach to marketing, but that’s for another post.
Deciding between these two can feel like a big and expensive decision, but really it comes down to a few things: what type of marketing you want to achieve and how much time and money you’re willing to invest in those initiatives.
Each one offers its own benefits depending on your strategy, and one isn’t really better than the other. But there are a few functions your marketing should accomplish, and, if your internal team isn’t up to the task, it may be time to look for additional support.
What your marketing should do
These are a few of the general tasks any marketing team should be able to do, whether they’re internal or external experts. Let’s break down the importance of these tasks and who may be better suited and why.
Maintain a deep understanding of your business
Your marketing team should always be fully ingrained in the happenings of your business — including past, current and future endeavors. In this sense, your internal marketing team is always going to be a step ahead here. They live and breathe your mission, vision and purpose every single day, giving them the background and knowledge needed to be the ultimate experts in what you do.
So while a marketing agency can’t compete with that (unless you’re willing to host dozens of working sessions on a regular cadence), they can offer industry knowledge your team might overlook.
Having a deep understanding of your business is crucial, but without a judgment point of another company or industry leader, that’s all it is: a personal viewpoint of your business.
Uncover a fresh perspective
It happens to the best of us. From time to time we get too close to a problem, it becomes too personal, or too familiar, and we can’t see the other sides or think outside of the box. This can be especially the case for an internal marketing team, when team members feel like they’re tackling the same problem season after season or year after year.
Bringing in an agency can provide a fresh perspective in those moments when marketing starts to feel pretty stale. Because they haven’t yet developed biases about your business or audience, they’re able to see things you might have overlooked or written off years ago.
Develop a focal point
It takes a lot of creativity to think outside the box when developing a marketing strategy. In this sense, an internal team can do it just as well as a marketing agency, because it’s all about having the right people in the seats.
What’s hard is separating the big ideas from the right ideas.
Oftentimes as we envision the future of our own business, we end up with a list of ideas 10 miles long. An internal team can sometimes get blinded by what we call “shiny objects,” the things that distract us from the real issues at hand.
The reality is, while the long list of opportunities is great, it’s unlikely it all needs to be done immediately. Working with an agency can help you develop a focal point for your efforts that is honed in on your true goals.
Create a roadmap for the future
As we get closer to the end of the year, it’s natural to start thinking about a new start in a new year. With an internal team, you might be able to start working on this process a bit earlier as they have a closer working relationship with other decision-makers in the organization.
But it can also be overwhelming to figure out where to start, especially if you have a smaller internal marketing team. In that sense, working with an agency can help you develop a roadmap for planning and executing your ideas for the new year.
And further than that, once you’ve identified your plan of attack, you might find you’re paralyzed by the number of things that need to be done to bring it to life. A marketing agency can jump in and help supplement your team faster and more efficiently.
Track (and understand) your metrics
Now that you have a focal point on the horizon, it’s just as important to make sure you have a plan to identify whether or not your efforts were successful.
This requires metrics tracking to allow you to see the progress you made toward your goal, a crucial piece of the marketing puzzle. In this sense, it’s all about a skillset, so an internal or external team could own this process.
But while a scrappy internal marketing team might consist mostly of those-who-wear-many-hats, an agency is often staffed with key experts in many disciplines, like analytics.
Having someone who truly understands the inner workings of data and analytics is what will make or break your marketing ROI moving forward. If you have that as part of your internal team, that’s great (and you got very lucky). But when it comes to working with an agency, it’s a non-negotiable.
Moral of the story: It’s all about who’s on your team and how they prefer to work. If you’re just starting your marketing journey, an internal team might be more than enough to cover your day-to-day operations and can do it more effectively than an agency.
But if you’re looking to scale your business in an efficient and cost-effective way, outsourcing your marketing may make the most sense and free up some internal resources to work on other initiatives and business goals.
Evan Kirsch is CEO of MAKE Digital Group, an innovative digital marketing agency that specializes in forward-thinking marketing strategies for small businesses. For 12 years, Evan has navigated clients from coast-to-coast along in their pursuit of marketing excellence. To schedule a free analysis of your marketing strategy, you can email Evan at email@example.com.