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March 16, 2022

Inhouse vs Agency: 5 Easy Rules to Help You Get it Right

You’re sitting at your desk with ever-increasing targets, a seriously inadequate marketing budget and a whole bunch of challenges within channels which, if you’re honest, you’re not confident you’re 100% on top of.

You know it’s time to make a change, but where do you start? Do you create or expand your in-house marketing team or is it time for an agency? And how do you know the best way to choose one? Read on to weigh up the pros and cons of the age-old question of in-house v agency and be equipped to make your decision with confidence.

So how do you know what’s going to work for you and your company?

Like most things in marketing the answer is that it depends. To make it easier, we’ve developed five rules that will guide you through the key issues and decisions. Are you struggling to execute your marketing plan with current resources? Read on!

Rule #1: It doesn’t have to be in-house v agency

Smart marketers and smart companies know that using a combination of in-house and agency resources can give you the benefits of both approaches and remove many of the drawbacks in the table above.

We see firsthand the real barriers to success when a client has no in-house marketing resource. They often struggle to get things done or communicate the valuable knowledge needed to do the best work. We also win a lot of new work from companies who have been trying to do it all in-house and really struggled.

Rule #2: Always have a clear strategy

 Successful, sustainable and predictable marketing requires solid digital marketing objectives. Strategy is knowing what you intend to achieve and developing a clear plan for how to use your finite resources to get there.

Before you start discussing in-house v agency you need to develop a clear strategic plan. Be honest with yourself at this stage, do you have the experience, skills and time to develop an effective strategy in marketing in general or digital specifically?

If you’re short on genuine strategic skills, then teaming up with an agency right now might be an excellent investment that will pay off big time for you.

Rule #3: Know what you’re good at

You might be good at managing events, organic social posts, developing great content and creating incredible email campaigns. There are probably also things you’re not so hot at. Typically, we find things like marketing strategy, SEO, PPC, Social Media Adsand creative are areas where a lot of in-house teams struggle for best of breed results.

You need to cast a critical eye over what you do. It might be time to move some activities to external experts who live and breathe this stuff every day. Get it right and the results will make it worthwhile (and you’ll look really smart to everyone watching).

Rule #4: Use agencies for scale

Marketing plans change, and new plans bring with them new focuses. You might need less of something you currently have. You also might need a lot more of something else. You might also now need something you have no idea about at all.

Going to external agencies to scale up or scale down on fixed internal resources makes a lot of sense. It’s pretty much always quicker and very often cheaper than making the same changes to a team of full-time in-house marketers.

We see a lot of excellent in-house teams ‘owning’ a selection of core marketing functions and then working with agencies like us for everything else. This also frees up your time to focus on those channels that you excel at more than others, ultimately driving better results across the board.

Rule #5: Approach agencies as expert partners

You might think this is a little self-serving, and you’d be right! But believe me when I say that the most counter-productive thing we see is when a client comes to us and dictates direction and execution. Rather than this being a sign that the client is a true expert, it tends to be a sign that the client is well and truly out of their depth.

If you’ve made the decision to spend good money on an agency, let them do what they do best. Work with them as an expert partner. There will be things that only you know about and your agency should care deeply about your knowledge in these areas. But there will also be things your agency will bring to the table if you’ve picked the right agency and you work with them in the right way.