In my many years (getting too many to count at this point) of working with clients from a marketing agency perspective, there comes a point in which business owners and leaders have to make the decision to grow their own marketing department or outsource the work to an agency. There are several factors to consider before making the right choice.
First, there are many marketing channels these days. To not overcomplicate things too much, there are two primary “buckets” of channels: Inbound and Outbound. You can think of Outbound like a megaphone, getting the message out to anyone within its “range”. Some Outbound methods include TV, Radio, Newspaper, Billboard, and Direct Mail, among others.
Inbound, on the other hand, is more analogous to a magnet. The Inbound bucket includes ways to help prospects who are looking to solve a problem, find educational info on the said problem, options for the solution, and companies who provide the solution along with proof that they can really do what they say they can do. This is, for the most part, done online through internet and social channel search.
Because Inbound marketing is targeting those who are looking to solve problems, it can be more cost-effective given prospects are already in the “buyer’s journey” and qualified leads can be generated. However, there is a large skill set required to create a successful Inbound program and needs to be considered carefully when determining whether to Insource your team, use an agency, or use a hybrid approach:
Inbound Strategy (to integrate with Outbound strategy and tactics)
Understand and be able to use Marketing Technology
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each option.
In-House Inbound Team
Pros: An in-house team will be totally focused on the success of your business. Each person on the team can get up to speed on the intricacies of your business and be on-call for your needs at all times. Because they are physically at your business, marketers have easier access to subject matter experts within the company to create content (a foundation of Inbound Marketing).
Cons: To get the job done right, it takes a large number of highly skilled people. It is difficult to find unicorns who can do “crossover” skills and wear different hats at similar competencies. It’s also hard to mentor marketing staff when you don’t have people in similar roles with more experience. Turnover can have a significant impact on the results.
Paying to have all these skills in-house is daunting, but going through the hiring process and keeping them on staff after going through the learning curve of teaching them your business can be even more daunting.
Outsourced to an Agency
Pros: You do not have to find, vet, and train a marketing staff or pay them along with the benefits. And as alluded to above, you won’t need to be concerned with turnover, either. Rely on the skills of professionals who have a proven track record because, to be sure, there are a lot of skills you will need. Simply pay for the time you need from the skillsets you require at any given time. You can then focus on what you do best — running your business.
Cons: The agency will most likely not have an office at your headquarters. You will need to schedule regular status calls with your agency to keep them in the loop of your business. Work will have to be scheduled. An agency will have other clients to manage in addition to your company unless your budget can afford to employ an entire agency team. (A bonus could be fewer “random acts of marketing”.)
You can probably see where I’m leading. Yes, if possible a hybrid approach can blend the best of both Insourcing and Outsourcing and here’s why:
Pros: You do not have to find, vet, and train and pay a full marketing staff, but still receive the skills needed to run a successful Inbound program. You can have a coordinator on staff to handle Outbound tactics, and immediate needs, plus coordinate and liaison with an agency team who can have deep and specialized skills.
Cons: Yes, you’ll have to pay an agency, but I certainly hope you’ll find that offsets more than a few headaches!
In-House Inbound Team
Focused completely on your business
Hard to find and keep all skills necessary to do Inbound well and cost effective
Outsource to Agency
Can focus on the running the business, which is what you do best
An internal resource still needs to “own” the relationship. That’s hard to juggle with other responsibilities if there isn’t a dedicated resource
Don’t have to worry about finding and keeping all the skill sets while an internal resource can keep the focus and own the relationship
Even so, if you can take the leap of faith and grow your marketing team with an internal resource connected to the talents of an Inbound Marketing Agency, you will reap the rewards for many years to come.