In-House vs. Outsource Marketing: Which is Best?
Amidst all the uncertainty raised by the economic impacts of COVID 19, marketing budgets are being scrutinised. With people losing their jobs and companies falling back to consolidate their positions, how do you still manage to find new customers but reduce your overheads at the same time? Well, the answer may be as simple as outsourcing.
Outsourcing your marketing to an agency can save you money, but is it the right choice for your company?
Deciding to move what is an integral part of your business, to an external resource can be challenging with many variables to consider. In this article we will take a brisk walk through the nuances of each option.
Regardless of which option you choose, the worst choice you could make is to put a halt to your marketing. If you are not proactively looking for new customers, or at the very least, reminding your current customers that you are still there for them, you are likely to slip into the shadows of the forgotten and unknown.
Defining in-house and outsourced marketing:
- In-house Marketing is comprised of employees who work inside your company. You get to hire and build the team you choose, it could be one person or a team of experts.
- Outsourced Marketing is when you hire an agency to work with your company, externally. A full suite agency (such as Rock Solid Marketing), consists of a team of specialists spanning across digital marketing, copywriting, graphic design, Public Relations (PR), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Google Ads and more.
- A Hybrid strategy is a mix of both internal and external execution of marketing efforts. It may involve an internal Marketing Resource that acts as a Project Manager – developing the strategy and delegating tasks to an agency.
Now let’s journey on the road to deciding which option is best for your company.
Employing an in-house marketing talent is costly. You will have to factor in a base wage along with the cost of employment benefits, such as:
- Paid holidays and sick leave
- Overtime rates
- Work cover
- Hiring and recruitment costs (which sometimes includes the dreaded cost of mis-hiring)
- Onboard training
- Assets such as laptop, phone, internet, desk, chair etc
- KPIs and performance reviews
- Clear reporting lines and management
For the number crunchers: Let’s say that you hire a marketing talent with 3-5 years’ experience for a base salary of only $70,000.
Then we need to add the additional costs such as superannuation, work Cover, leave entitlements, equipment (laptop or desktop as a minimum), training, etc. These benefits mentioned can add up to a value of around $22,886.
This gives us an annual cost of around $92,886 which equates to a monthly cost of $7,740.50.
And then there is the time and cost of hiring, mis-hiring and learning on the job.
At a bare minimum you will need your marketing department to have talents in web design and maintenance, SEO services, graphic design, copywriting, data analysis and possibly even media buying – along with the regular skills of marketing. This can rarely be done by one person, so you may need to hire several people. If they are full time, someone will need to oversee that they are busy with projects from 9-5, to ensure you are getting bang for your buck.
YIKES! The cost is adding up now and will vary depending on the unique business needs.
Marketing agencies consist of a collaboration of marketing experts. For the one price you get experts in SEO, copywriting, public relations, advertising, web development and design as well as project management. No sick leave or recruitment costs to worry about, no lost days or extended time frames because people are away. But one of the biggest factors is there is no need to keep your internal resources continuously in training and up to speed with their online marketing skills – they will take care of it all.
To get the most value from your outsourcing investment, it is important to allow time for the agency to get to know your business and its culture.
Staying on trend with industry best standards and technologies
Technologies change at lightning pace and if you are stuck in old age processes, you are going to get struck, left behind and out in the cold – probably chorusing Celine Dion’s ‘All By Myself.’
Marketing agencies, such as ours have a variety of staff and contractors on their team. Each team member is a subject matter expert and works in collaboration with the other members of the team. They live and breathe marketing and always seek out resources to stay on trend with the latest developments in their industry.
Truly keeping up with changes in the industry can seem like a full-time job in itself.
If you go with the in-house option, you get to build your own team of specialists and oversee their collaborative efforts. This means team building, well being and supervision of staff is your responsibility. You will need to purchase any programs, licences and equipment necessary to get the job done. Factoring in the time it takes to research the best options before making that purchase. Then the time it takes to learn to use any new technology.
Many businesses worry that they will lose control of the processes if the reins are handed to an agency and it is a valid concern. There is a risk that an out-of-house marketing agency will want to market your business in a way that you disagree with.
Just be sure to choose a reputable agency, with a good track record. Look for a digital marketing agency that you can trust and steer clear of agencies that use confusing jargon or who are not upfront about pricing. Open communication is important, are they happy to answer questions, do they welcome your feedback?
A good agency will value your input and listen to your individual needs, but it is a collaborative effort.
An agencies prowess and hustle can do very little unless you listen to their advice too. Otherwise you are wasting your money in hiring the expertise in the first place.
At Rock Solid Marketing, we are a marketing team that is on your team. When working with clients we start by identifying and agreeing upon goals and requirements, then drafting a workable timeline to achieve those metrics. Checking in with you throughout the process to ensure we are on the same page. Our lines of communication will be open along the way and we welcome feedback and questions.
In-house workers have more opportunities to connect with your brands’ culture and values. They become part of your brand and can exude your brand voice in all their communications. This includes speaking the right tone on your social media, email and content marketing.
If you unite and work together with the many talents of a marketing agency you will need to give them access and ample opportunity to be immersed in everything brand relate that you want conveyed in your marketing message.
Your brand has a unique history, vision and goals that you’ll need to explain clearly to an outsourced team if they’re going to help convey it in your marketing message.
In house marketing teams can fully immerse themselves in your company culture and objectives but it commonly results in tunnel vision. As much as you try to see if from an outside perspective when you are close to you project, you have so much emotion and resources invested. From this vested standpoint it is almost impossible to see things objectively.
Digital marketing agencies that work outside your company bring fresh and creative ideas to the table. Seeing the situation from an outside view offers new perspectives and unique angles, insights and experiences. They have worked with a myriad of marketing issues. They have done the testing and they know what works and what does not.
A shift in perspectives can be subtle but the results profound. While you may have a handle on who your target market is, for example, one little shift in the way you segment your target market can have dramatic results in improving your bottom line.
As many companies are struggling after the COVID-19 restrictions, employment flexibility is important.
As you can see, an outsourcing option is the best option to give you the flexibility, skill set and a group you can call upon. When working with an agency, it is easy to shift gears as priorities change.
A great in-house marketing team is an asset that can be built on. You will need to source a wide range of skill sets in ever evolving fields like web development, social selling expertise, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising along with the right attitude and creative pizzazz. Finding this talent is not an easy task, so if you find it – hold onto them.
Outsourcing to an agency usually allows you to pay a single fee that gives you access to a larger team of experts. Hiring a digital marketing agency means you get that expert team at a lower cost than if you were to build an in-house team. You will only pay for the skills that you want and can re-align, ramp up or down, or stop completely with little notice. This means you will not be overpaying for what you don’t need.
The expertise of a marketing agency comes from being exposed to many different industries and issues. They will also come supercharged with the latest trends, techniques, and technologies.
Your own in-house marketing team means that you can fly out the door as needed, with your staff on-call whenever you need them. With an agency, you should choose one that welcomes constant communication. While it is nice to yell out to someone across the office or via a tin can and a piece of string, today’s technology makes communicating at a distance easier than ever.
Another option is a blend of both internal and external execution of marketing efforts. In many cases this involves an in-house marketing manager or project manager developing the strategy.
Expertise such as market research or creative execution can be outsourced to an agency. Tasks can be divided according to your terms and objectives.
Advantages of this team is the sweet spot between flexibility and performance. Control and outside perspectives.
The disadvantage is that it is time consuming. Acting as a project manager in the marketing field can be a headache if you don’t have a deep knowledge of a wide spectrum of marketing disciplines.
The key to hybrid marketing success comes from knowing your strengths and outsourcing the rest.
An efficient workflow can be created with a content calendar that can be shared between the organisation and the agency. Along with sharable open communication channels like slack or Google hangouts.
Insourcing and Outsourcing your company’s marketing both have benefits:
- Greater control of the processes
- Opportunities to be immersed in your culture
- Readily available
- You get to build your dream team
- More cost benefits
- Come with equipment, tools, platforms, licences and insurance
- More up to date with the latest trends and industry forecasts
- Fresh perspectives
- More flexible
- Greater expertise
As you can see, there are more benefits to outsourcing your marketing than keeping it solely in-house. If control, culture and availability is more important to you, then building a marketing team in-house, is a great option.
Whether or not you choose to employ in-house marketing staff, every organisation will benefit from an outside perspective. The key is knowing the grunt of what your in-house team is exceptional at and outsourcing the rest.
If you can let go of some control and head down the outsourcing road, the journey is usually stress free and the destination glittering with successes. The key is to choose an agency that involves you in the process and sees your relationship as a partnership, not a transaction. There should be open communication and transparency, you should know what is happening and how much it will cost. They will need access and time to understand your business and culture. Along with your trust to let them do what they do best and show you the results.
The worst option you can choose it to pull back your marketing to a minimum or worse, cease marketing altogether. If you’re not out telling your story…who will?
If you are not putting yourself centre stage and reminding your customers, you are here for them, your company may slip into the shadows of the unknown.