January 19, 2017 | By: Rustin Dodd

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In-house vs. Outsourced Marketing

Your company’s marketing strategy is an important part of your business growth plan. It helps you acquire more customers, stay connected with your current buyers and boost your revenue. Determining what kind of marketing horsepower you are going to need to create and execute your marketing strategy is one of the most challenging aspects of ensuring that your business has the solid marketing foundation that you need.

One of the most important steps that you must take to establish effective marketing is to determine what you can spend on marketing.  The industry you operate in and where you exist within that industry can provide valuable insight into what to spend and which marketing channels make sense for your business.  Once you have determined your budget, you can assess your needs and the resources that are available for you to satisfy those needs.

Inevitably you will face the question of whether it makes sense for you to bring your marketing in-house or engage a full or partial outsourced marketing solution.  Here are the key factors to keep in mind when you’re evaluating your options.

Cost Overview

With an in-house team, you do have the advantage of controlling the full work environment for your employees.  Communication is often a key benefit as well, given that meetings can happen at a moment’s notice if needed.  The costs of moving forward with an in-house marketing team, however, can be much higher than what’s initially apparent. You’re responsible for the employees’ salaries and benefits, as well as unemployment insurance and other associated expenses.

In contrast, an outsourced marketing solution, depending on the particular service model, only charges you a flat fee associated with a service, or on a per-project basis. The vendor or independent marketing contractor maintains its own workspace, pays for any necessary software and equipment and carries its own insurance. You don’t have to worry about all the related costs with an outsourcing partner.  Communication is a critical factor and should be addressed up-front with any outsourced partner you consider engaging.  Set expectations regarding the frequency of reviews as well as response times for day to day communications.

The Hidden Costs Of An In-House Team

A serious consideration in deciding on an in-house team is employee turnover.  The costs are often hidden but very real.  In-house marketing professionals, strategists, designers, developers, and copywriters will all fall under the responsibility of your Human Resources team or department. Depending on your current setup and the resources that you need, bringing on an in-house marketing team could also mean a need to ramp up your HR operations as well.

They must source potential employees, pay for job postings, sort through hundreds of resumes and conduct interviews to determine whether the person is a fit within your organization.

Once hiring managers bring in someone new, they kick off the training process. If something goes wrong with staff, HR also needs to go through the firing process.  And in turn, the whole process begins again.

Outsourced marketing departments handle these processes internally. The only thing you need to worry about is picking the right service provider for your specific marketing objectives. Everything else happens behind the scenes, so you don’t have to worry about having these resources in place.

Expertise and Specialization

Recruiting and retaining top marketing professionals is a challenging task. You need to brand yourself as a great place to work, perform one-to-one outreach with your dream candidates and put together a package that stays competitive in your industry. Everyone wants highly effective marketers, and the more stringent your requirements, the more likely you’re going to run into a talent shortage.

Business owners often make the mistake of assuming that bringing in a single marketing professional will fill all of their marketing needs.  In some cases this may be true, there are some very talented and capable marketing practitioners in the workforce today.  In most cases, however, this is not the case.  Marketing is multi-faceted and generally requires individuals with varying skill sets to effectively execute on a given strategy.  The most efficient marketing departments include people in the following roles:

  • Marketing strategists (marketing manager, director, or CMO)
  • Online / Digital Marketing Specialists
  • Designers
  • Developers
  • Writers

Only you can determine your marketing needs and which of these roles would make warrant bringing talent in-house.  Regardless of whether you decide to bring one or more of these roles in-house, someone must perform the tasks of all positions which will either mean asking that your employees act in multiple capacities or outsourcing the areas where your staff falls short.  The reality is that almost all in-house marketing departments outsource at least a portion of their marketing needs.

Company Size Matters

Quite possibly the most important determining factor as to whether your marketing should be brought in-house or outsourced is the size of your business and how you weight that against your marketing needs.

Large enterprises often have the resources on-hand to support an in-house marketing department. They can aggressively recruit top talent through high salaries and the name recognition of the company.  They have well-established HR departments and their marketing needs justify the additional cost of having an in-house team.

Small to mid-sized businesses don’t often have the infrastructure, nor the marketing needs to justify the cost of a full in-house team.  And all too often, unless they supplement their efforts through outsourced services, their marketing suffers for it.  Outsourced marketing, whether in its full capacity or a supporting capacity for a marketing professional, allows for small to mid-sized businesses to present a professional and results-driven marketing strategy that simply would not be possible with comparable resources allocated toward and in-house team.

You have a lot to consider when you decide between in-house and outsourced marketing. Keep these key factors in mind when you’re evaluating what’s best for your business and its future growth.




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About Rustin Dodd

Rustin Dodd, a marketing strategist with MARION, has more than a decade of marketing experience in both the B2B and B2C industries. His experience includes graphic design, front-end web development, e-commerce management and digital marketing. He has worked on projects for various clients as a freelancer, within an agency setting, and as a member of an in-house team.