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Marketing: Stay In-House, Outsource, or Both? - Finnegan Pierson - Blog

Marketing: Stay In-House, Outsource, or Both?

Businesses of every size have more marketing opportunities than ever before. In addition to the traditional channels of broadcast, radio, print, and out-of-home/billboard advertising, marketers now have a full suite of digital platforms at their disposal as well. In order to take advantage of these opportunities to build awareness and share messaging, companies must decide what role their in-house marketing department is expected to play. One size does not fit all, and there are pros and cons to different approaches. We’ll look at a few common setups and explore the best mix of insourcing and outsourcing to achieve effective results.

Your Marketing Department

Most companies have either a marketing director, chief marketing officer, or creative director who oversees managing the public’s image of their business. In some cases, public relations are also folded into this role, in others, they focus more solely on advertising, branding, and community outreach. This key marketer may also be responsible for media buying or overseeing the buying of media.

Beyond this manager or executive, department make-ups vary greatly. There may be a single assistant who helps them communicate with outside production and buying companies. Or they may have a producer who can write, shoot video, record sound, and produce marketing materials. Others may have a “cast of thousands” with copywriters, producers, graphic artists, media buyers, and social media leads on their team.

The reality is that most companies rely on some level of outsourcing, whether that means employing an advertising or digital agency, specialty producers like a link building service, or a combination of companies to handle their efforts.

Advertising Agencies

The traditional advertising agency or agency of record is designed to be a one-stop shop for a company with marketing departments of any (or no) size. Beyond owners and executives, agencies usually have account executives who serve as the chief point of contact between their clients and the agency. Their job is to bring in new business, negotiate terms, pricing, and contracts, and to keep the clients abreast of current projects and new opportunities.

Agencies usually have a media buyer or team of buyers who are in contact with local and regional broadcast, radio, newspaper, and out-of-home print companies. In addition to building schedules on behalf of their clients, they must be aware of the media climate in their area, understanding the ratings of television and radio stations, circulation numbers of periodicals, and impressions for billboards and other out-of-home opportunities.

A creative director will oversee the agency’s art department to build graphics, logos, and print pieces, as well as copywriters who are responsible for their client’s brand voice and scripts for commercials, websites, and articles. Finally, they will also have audio and video producers who can shoot and edit commercials and deliver them to advertising channels.

Marketers who hire ad agencies can expect full service, but they will pay handsomely for it. For many, this is a worthwhile investment, as it enables them to save on staff and equipment. For others, the cost is too prohibitive, as they are still paying for advertising as well as the agency’s production costs and commission.

Digital Agencies

As we’ve moved into the digital advertising age, digital agencies have emerged as a boutique option to handle a certain portion of marketers’ needs. Namely, they will perform the same function as a traditional advertising agency, but only for web-based media. Specifically, they will work on digital banners and graphic-based videos for the web, as well as advertising optimized for different social media platforms, including managing social accounts, boosting posts, and paid social ads.

The price tag of a digital agency is usually less than a full-service advertising agency as their services are more focused.

The Best Balance

As you can see, there are tradeoffs to any approach. If you hire a large marketing department in hopes of handling everything in-house, you will need to pay nearly a dozen professionals and invest heavily in video, audio, and digital production equipment. This is more feasible these days as subscription services like the Adobe Creative Suite and powerful computers able to handle production have come down in price. For most companies, the best route is a balance of a small marketing department who can outsource specialized needs to professional producers and agencies.

The key is for your in-house marketers to effectively communicate the company’s vision and branding to anyone they have hired. Consistency is crucial to branding. They must be ready to enforce brand guidelines and insist upon analytics and reporting to monitor results. Agencies and outsources must be held to high accountability standards and show return on investment.

Publish Date: April 24, 2020 12:30 PM



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