By: Michael Warren

In a world of marketing choices is it better for your brand to use an in-house marketing team or an outside brand agency?

In truth, an agile collaboration between outside brand agencies and a company’s in-house marketing team is the best option. To get to the proper combination may require some trial and error but once that synchronicity is found you can start to accurately monitor the ROI from your investment.

In today’s advertising world brand agencies and marketing agencies have essentially become the same animal. The most intuitive and successful firms will work with your brand from inception to brand development all the way through to marketing campaigns, brand management and advertising placement strategies. When coupled with your in-house marketing team this can be the winning combination. This decision is based on myriad factors but here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using each choice alone:

In-House Marketing Team:

As employees of your firm they are manageable and easy to find – because they are under the same roof as you. It is an obvious but worthwhile point to remember. They also have a vested interest in your brand. If your brand does well, if your SEO placement rises and if the marketing material is attracting new customers and maintaining your current positioning, they feel a part of that success. They may even receive performance bonuses for such achievements.

The former points can also lead to a big disadvantage: Group Think, or Tunnel Vision. Being internalized means that your marketing team is experiencing the brand culture everyday, in a sense they are drinking the Kool-Aid, and that can lead to stale or repetitive marketing campaigns.

Another disadvantage is that multiple departments may be charged with pieces of each marketing campaign and management of the whole project may be divided. This can lead to a sense of disjointed purpose if communication is not optimized and a deeply reduced throughput due to ineffective resource management.

One of the strongest disadvantages is the opposite of your first advantage. They are employees, and as such they want, above all, to keep their jobs. This likely means they will hesitate to rock the boat. They know what you like for your brand and will follow your lead more than they will be creative in order to maintain job security.

Outside Brand Agency:

The first disadvantage cited for not using an outside brand agency is the cost association. Most brands feel that it is more cost effective to have an in-house marketing team rather than paying for the outsourcing. This is a narrow idea that does not take into account the annual cost of salary, benefits and payroll taxes that are inherent with employees. It may actually be more cost effective to use an outside brand agency.

The greatest advantage of an outside brand agency is that they fear nothing. They will take chances and present you with marketing ideas that may change the entire trajectory of your brand. In addition, there is a possibility that they are more skilled than your team in respect to what a brand needs today: SEO strategy, Marketing and Advertising Campaign Management, Brand Development, Analytics and Intermedia.

Brand agencies are often faster. They work with multiple brand clients, and they want to make each of them happy so they work into the night and on weekends to get each marketing project done ahead of time and under budget.

Brand agencies typically have more resources. They have the latest technology and the strategic relationships to get the marketing campaign done more effectively and with a stronger unity of brand identity across platforms.

What have other brand’s done?

In a recent Association of National Advertisers Survey, 203 client side marketers responded to a series of questions and follow-ups regarding internal vs. external marketing teams.

The survey showed that 6% of respondents had previously had an in-house shop but closed it. The top reason cited? The need for better marketing skills.

And, the biggest challenges that in-house marketing teams face are: staying on top of key trends (it was cited as a disadvantage 45% of the time in 2013, up from 36% in 2008) and the lack of creative innovation (it was cited as a disadvantage 43% of the time, up from from 34%).

Biggest Challenges For In-House Marketing Teams

Understanding Relevant Key Trends

ANA Study
2008 --- 36%
2013 --- 45%

Lack Of Creative Innovation

ANA Study
2008 --- 34%
2013 --- 43%

What should you do?

Each choice presents options, which is why a savvy conjunction of both would be your brand’s best option.

You may start to think that this is a loaded set of opinions, due to the fact that we are a brand agency. I would too, but I would also consider that being a brand agency lends us a little credibility in the field of marketing.

As we said, finding the right combination between internal and external teams is the key to your brand’s success. Once you pin that down the rest is simply process.

The decision for your brand should be exclusively made based upon what is best for brand development and identity and, also, what marketing and advertising techniques net you the best ROI. It is our hope that this will help you make that best choice.

Source: ANA Study