Over the past ten years, it has become a trend for brands and small businesses to move their marketing in-house. Faster turnaround, lower cost, and a deeper understanding of the business are often the cited benefits of shifting away from outsourcing. But an increasing number of businesses and brands are realizing that in-house marketing isn’t always as efficient and effective as they had hoped.
Technology—especially social media, search engine algorithms, data analysis tools, and other tech used by digital marketing teams—is evolving at a rapid pace. And as the landscape shifts, businesses’ needs change and evolve along with it. In-house marketing can be an excellent decision for some companies, but in some cases outsourcing may make more sense. It’s important to do a thorough cost and benefit analysis to help you make the right decision.
Consider the Cost of Recruitment
If you already have highly-qualified personnel on your team who are ready to move departments and take the lead, creating an in-house marketing team may cost you more than you think. And we’re not just talking about the salaries of truly top-tier talent. The Society for Human Resources Management estimates that the average cost of a new hire is about $4,000.
This includes the time of the recruiters, benefits, insurance, equipment, and onboarding hours. It does not include intangibles like lost productivity hours for employees who assist in training and answer questions or the amount of time it takes for an employee to be considered “up to speed”. Add to these unseen costs that the average position takes 42 days to fill. A little over a month’s worth of your HR or recruitment team’s time plus the sunken cost of no strategy building or marketing efforts during that period.
One person does not a marketing department make, so you also have to take into consideration how many employees you’ll need to hire to run an efficient and effective marketing department. And if you currently have no marketing department or dedicated team members, you will need to invest in a truly experienced and talented creative or marketing director to run the program, which usually means a much higher salary. You can’t sail a ship without a captain and a map.
On the flip side, an outsourced marketing team are—by definition—experts in their field. And often you are paying a team of people to create and execute your brand strategy for the price of one employee’s monthly salary. The argument against this we hear most often is, “But that’s because you have 20 other clients! You’re not really focused on my company’s brand. You don’t know us as well as our employees do.”
We’re so glad you brought that up!
The Cost of Tunnel Vision and a Lack of Innovation
We cheerfully admit that in-house teams have an edge on marketing agencies in that they know their brand and their company culture inside and out. They attend town halls and board meetings and company culture exercises. They understand your mission and your way of being in a way that only insiders can. But as with all things, this comes with its downsides as well.
When you’re on the inside looking out, you can lose perspective. Yes, an in-house marketing team understands your company culture, but that means they have the same blind spots as the rest of the company. That’s how you end up losing touch with your customers and becoming more corporate background noise on social media.
When all of your ideas are coming from within company walls, there is less incentive to challenge and change the current way of doing things. You risk falling victim to a lack of diversity in opinion. And—no matter how talented they may be—it’s always easier to see your employees as employees rather than as experts in their field, which means you run the risk of tuning out some really great ideas.
All of this leads to a general culture of corporate compliance rather than innovation. The digital scene is completely saturated with businesses and brands that are competing in ever more rarified spaces for the attention of their audiences. And as Gen Z and those even younger become the main focus of marketers, your marketing has to be savvy to grab attention and sink in. They’ve been on social media their whole lives, so they’re not likely to respond to the same strategies that worked ten years ago when just having a Facebook page put you in the top ten percent of businesses.
We’re not saying that in-house marketing teams aren’t innovative, because they certainly can be. But there is a definite tendency to focus more on developing the core product than staying up on the newest and hottest technology available for digital marketers. Even if they are keeping up, they likely won’t get the budget approval they need to invest in AB testing platforms, Google certifications, and social media analytics dashboards.
Since agencies focus completely on marketing and are competing in that space, they have the motivation and the budget to keep their tech and their people at the top of the digital marketing game. Since they’re accustomed to the lightning pace of the digital marketing space, they’re often able to offer insights and resources that just aren’t available to in-house marketing teams—unless you’re Apple or Google or Nike that is.
The Cost of Doing Nothing
We feel like in this day and age we don’t have to preach as much about the importance of a digital presence. Without a website—or at least a Facebook page—you don’t really exist. But even if you’re part of an industry that doesn’t rely heavily on consumer engagement—i.e. a bio-research facility, a government contractor, etc.—you are doing your organization a disservice if you are doing nothing with your marketing.
Sure, you may be doing fine now, but what happens if a scandal hits? You need to be able to control the story and that can be almost impossible to do without the leverage of banked public goodwill. The same goes for a sudden boom in business—you’re stretched to capacity but you can’t hire top talent because no one knows who you are. The moral of the story is that if you don’t control your marketing and your messaging, something else will.
Marketing isn’t just about getting people to buy your products. It’s about telling your story as a company in a way that encourages growth. It’s about setting a brand and a mission that people can attach to and relate with, inside and outside of the company.
If you need help telling your company’s story or if you have questions about outsourced marketing, contact iProv. We’re here to help and answer all of your digital marketing questions!