Is Outsourcing Marketing the Right Move?
By Jodie Byass
In recent years, there has been a remarkable surge in the adoption of in-house marketing teams among brands. According to the Association for National Advertisers' 2018 report, an astonishing 78% of their members now have dedicated in-house marketing teams. This represents a significant increase from the 58% reported in 2013, which itself marked a 16 percentage point jump from the survey results in 2008. These statistics clearly illustrate a prevailing trend: the majority of brands are embracing the management of marketing projects in-house.
The In-House Marketing Shift: Should You Outsource?
The explosive growth of in-house marketing teams has caused a transformative shake-up in the industry. Previously, it was commonplace for brands to outsource their advertising and brand management needs to specialized agencies. This approach seemed to alleviate the pressures of marketing project management in a fast-paced digital era. However, the industry has experienced a sudden and dramatic shift back to handling marketing projects internally. This begs the question: why are brands increasingly opting for in-house management? The answer lies in a combination of factors, some of which may surprise you.
1. Faster Turnaround and Enhanced Control
Modern marketing has become a multi-channel, nuanced, and fast-paced endeavor. Brands are now required to create integrated ad campaigns across various social media platforms, email marketing, search engines, and more. This significantly increases the creative workload compared to previous years. Agencies, which often manage multiple brands with their respective multi-channel ad campaigns, struggle to deliver work on tight deadlines. This slowness and potential lack of control can hinder a brand's agility in the market. On the other hand, by managing marketing teams and projects in-house, brands gain a dedicated team that focuses solely on their brand and can produce high-quality work at a faster pace. This not only improves efficiency but also allows for greater control and adaptability in responding to market dynamics.
2. A Modern and Consistent Approach
Another driving force behind the in-house marketing management shift is the realization that many advertising agencies operate within an old-fashioned advertising model. Traditionally, agencies would be approached by businesses, develop a campaign strategy, create supporting materials, execute the strategy, report on success, and then start over. This traditional model, reminiscent of AMC's hit drama series Mad Men, is no longer sufficient to yield optimal results in the rapidly evolving world of digital advertising. The relentless nature of digital advertising demands continuity in marketing campaign strategies to build brand recognition and loyalty. The antiquated business model of advertising agencies is simply unable to provide the necessary consistency and adaptability required in today's marketing landscape. In-house marketing management, on the other hand, offers brands a more modern and consistent strategy, enabling them to build stronger connections with their target audience and adapt to ever-changing market dynamics.
3. Better Brand Positioning and Customer Relationships
The internet has brought sweeping changes to how brands interact with their customers. Consumers now expect brands to be accessible and responsive around the clock. When businesses rely on agencies for marketing projects, they outsource communication with their customers, which can create a disconnect and hinder the establishment of strong customer relationships. In contrast, in-house marketing teams allow brands to keep a close eye on key customer communications and take a proactive approach to engage with their audience. This direct engagement enables brands to make data-driven decisions and tailor their strategies to better position themselves in the eyes of consumers. By leveraging an in-house team, brands can foster intimate customer relationships, providing personalized experiences and creating a strong brand identity that resonates with their target market.
4. Marketing Management Software Support
Managing complex marketing projects comes with its own set of challenges. Organizing communication, coordinating approvals, and tracking edits can quickly become overwhelming. Fortunately, there is a wide range of software options available specifically designed to support in-house marketing teams. These marketing project management tools streamline workflows, provide detailed reports, facilitate automated communication, and offer a multitude of other benefits. By leveraging such software, brands can optimize their internal processes, improve collaboration among team members, and gain valuable insights to drive their marketing initiatives.
Considering the Risks of In-House Marketing
Considering the Risks of In-House Marketing: Navigating Challenges for Success
While the benefits of in-house marketing are apparent, it is crucial to delve into the challenges associated with transitioning to an in-house team. By understanding and proactively addressing these obstacles, businesses can ensure a successful and seamless transition to in-house marketing.
1. Heavy Workloads and Workflow Management
As brands shift towards in-house marketing, one of the most significant challenges they encounter relates to managing heavy workloads and optimizing workflow processes. With other departments gaining access to the marketing team, there may be a lack of awareness regarding the impact of last-minute revisions or requests. This lack of understanding can divert attention away from the main projects and significantly increase the workload on the in-house team. Even with a dedicated in-house agency, juggling multiple projects with individual deadlines can be demanding.
To address these challenges, it is essential to implement effective marketing project management software. This software provides a centralized platform to streamline workflows, facilitate better communication between departments, and ensure that tasks and deadlines are clearly defined. By leveraging technology to optimize workflow management, brands can alleviate the burden on the in-house team and enhance overall productivity.
2. Mitigating Creative Burnout
With the increased workload on in-house teams, there is a potential risk of creative burnout among team members. The constant demand for fresh ideas, innovative campaigns, and high-quality output can take a toll on their inspiration and overall well-being. This, in turn, may lead to a decline in project quality and an increase in turnover rates, posing a significant challenge for the brand.
To mitigate these challenges, brands must prioritize the well-being of their in-house marketing team. This involves fostering a supportive work environment that encourages open communication, promotes work-life balance, and recognizes and rewards creative excellence. Offering opportunities for professional development, such as training sessions, workshops, or industry conferences, can also invigorate the team's creativity and provide fresh perspectives. Furthermore, encouraging collaboration and creative exploration within the team can prevent stagnation and inspire innovative ideas.
3. Avoiding Tunnel Vision
While a focused in-house team offers advantages such as personalized and efficient production, there is a potential downside to consider: tunnel vision. Insularity within the team may limit their perspective and inhibit innovation. To avoid this pitfall, it is crucial for in-house marketing teams to actively seek external input and diverse perspectives.
Engaging in regular market research, monitoring industry trends, and seeking customer feedback are essential practices. This external input broadens the team's horizons, challenges their assumptions, and stimulates creativity. Collaborating with external partners, such as agencies or consultants, can also inject fresh ideas and perspectives into the in-house team, preventing them from becoming too insular. By embracing a collaborative approach, brands can ensure that their marketing efforts remain dynamic, relevant, and resonate with their target audience.
Embrace the Shift and Overcome the Challenges
The in-house marketing trend continues to gain momentum, becoming the new standard in the industry. By establishing a specialized team of brand experts and leveraging robust marketing project management software, brands can successfully navigate the challenges associated with bringing their marketing projects in-house.
Embracing this shift empowers businesses with greater control over their marketing strategies, allowing for more agility, creativity, and strategic decision-making. It also enables them to build stronger customer relationships by retaining direct control over communication channels and fostering personalized interactions. Furthermore, in-house marketing teams can adapt more effectively to the rapidly evolving marketing landscape, ensuring continued relevance and competitive advantage.
If you are considering the move to in-house marketing, there are industry bodies and professional services firms that can provide valuable insights, guidance, and support. These organizations have expertise in assisting businesses with the transition, offering information on the benefits of in-house marketing and providing valuable tips to ensure a successful implementation. With their assistance, your brand can confidently navigate the dynamic world of in-house marketing and thrive in the ever-changing market landscape.