Marketing is one of the things that you can do in-house, outsource or combine in a mix of the two.
When you run your own business, cost, time, and quality are all important considerations when it comes to digital marketing. However, every business is different with its own unique requirements, so it’s not always easy to know which is the better option.
This article breaks down the pros and cons of in-house vs outsourcing marketing to help you decide which is best for you and your business.
Generalists or specialists?
In house may seem like the obvious choice for most businesses. After all, with your own marketer, you’ll have more control over what they do with their time, and of course, their job is to focus solely on marketing your business. This can only be a good thing, right?
While this may sound appealing, when you have one person working on one thing rather than multiple clients with different briefs and requirements, they’re unlikely to be as challenged and get less opportunity to sharpen their skills and experience in the way they would through working on multiple projects.
This means that the best you can hope for is a generalist. And as digital marketing becomes increasingly complex, generalists working alone are going to struggle to keep up with the competition.
An outside marketing agency can help to address this problem by providing multiple specialists, each with their own area of expertise. Their skills are honed through working on different projects so they can focus solely on making your business a success.
Even if you are happy to employ a generalist to do your marketing, you’ll still need to be responsible for training them so that they can continue to deliver results as digital marketing practices and technology evolve around them.
Of course, this costs time and money – but if you don’t understand digital marketing, how will you effectively manage and develop them?
When you hire a specialist, they will have much more experience in their field and a much clearer idea of what it is that will help your business succeed. Plus, the agency will be covering all the costs of their employees’ ongoing development to keep skills as sharp and up-to-date as possible.
One example would be if someone in-house has never actually managed a lead generation campaign from start to finish, how do they know what best practice is? This is just one of many reasons why agencies often win the in-house vs outsourcing marketing debate for SMEs.
Quality and creativity
The best work is often born out of collaboration. While employing an in-house marketer means they’ll be dedicated solely to your marketing, how are they going to consistently come up with the best ideas and stay inspired?
With the best will in the world, it’s not going to be a stretch for them to think of new ideas to market products and services they know inside out and deal with every day. However, what about outside-of-the-box thinking?
Creativity often requires the ability to bounce ideas off others. So this can be difficult if you are the only marketing person in the business.
It may take a team from an external agency – with fresh perspectives and the advantage of close collaboration – to challenge your thinking and come up with innovative ideas to really help your marketing to flourish.
This is especially the case when you have a whole team on hand who are dealing with various clients each day. They’ll already have a good insight into what works and what doesn’t work for everyone else, especially if there’s already some industry crossover between yourself and other clients.
If you are considering hiring in-house, have you thought about the ongoing expenses besides recruitment, paying a salary, providing ongoing training, and other retention costs?
Any good marketing strategy requires good solid reporting tools so that you can get a good overview of your results and figure out what is and isn’t working.
However, the best reporting software often costs more than what most SME businesses are prepared to pay for.
Additionally, effective creation of digital assets requires expensive Adobe software that most companies aren’t prepared to pay for because it won’t be sufficiently used.
The result? Those with in-house marketers alone are at higher risk of having to use low-quality tools and not having the insight to refine the strategy over time, meaning that it will be difficult for them to add enough value to the business to justify the cost of in-house.
Meanwhile, with outsourced marketing, your business will be able to benefit from industry-standard Adobe software and access to better reporting software, making it easier to make it easier to spot what’s working and determine your ROI.
But what about paying for someone else’s overheads and profits? It’s our experience that it generally costs a lot less to employ an agency like ours that implements digital marketing than employ a full-time person. Plus, as an agency, our services don’t get sick or have holidays.
In-house vs outsourcing marketing – who wins?
So, which option wins in the debate of in-house vs outsourcing marketing?
There’s no doubt that an in-house marketer can be beneficial to your business, and they can be great for getting all the coordination and low-level tasks that go with running a business and can be invaluable at times.
However, for most SMEs that don’t have big budgets, there are plenty of roadblocks to getting an in-house marketer to deliver the ROI needed to justify the cost. Plus, the right agency will take the time to get to know your brand so that they can deliver value that goes beyond expensive technology, software and skills.
Like any supplier, you’ll need to do your due diligence to ensure you are getting the right team with the right mix of skills, as not all agencies work in the same way. If you’re not sure where to start, check out this article to find out more about what you should be looking for when hiring an external marketing agency.
If you’re thinking about outsourcing your marketing to an agency to manage your activities or collaborate with your in-house marketer, get in touch.