Taking your marketing efforts in-house seems like a no-brainer. That’s the thing, you might just be taking the brains out of your whole marketing operation by doing just that.
While you may think we’re biased, and admittedly we may be, we also like to give our clients the best advice possible. If that means taking your efforts in-house, we’d be the first to help you with that transition. So let’s take a look at why that might not be the best idea for you.
Expectation vs. Reality
We could insert any number of popular internet memes here to illustrate our point, but we’ll skip the pictures and get to the meat and potatoes of it all.
Outsourcing your marketing services offers you a multitude of advantages & benefits that are often not given enough weight.
Subject Matter Expertise
Agencies offer pools of specialized functional expertise, which means they are uniquely positioned to:
- Offer deep insight informed by proprietary research
- Borrow/repurpose successful strategies and tactics deployed across other clients to your specific benefit
- POV/capabilities - if your business and marketing plan need to test new strategies but you lack the in-house experience, your chance of success is low. With an agency, your tests are powered by significant years of experience, which includes successes, failures and learnings. This allows agencies to bring tests to life very quickly
Outsourcing lets businesses focus on what they do best. Usually, that isn’t marketing. Farming marketing strategy and execution to external experts creates the space companies need to concentrate resources on the R&D needed to have a competitive edge in increasingly saturated markets
Agencies work across verticals and market segments and bring that perspective and experience into every engagement. It may hurt to hear, but you’re not their only client. But that has its own advantages. That means you’ll get the benefit of a broader perspective. You get the return on all the content audits, keyword taxonomy analysis, site performance assessments, competitor analysis, and more that the agency is doing.
Time to Value
Time is money. Literally. Marketing plans require substantial time and effort. There are planning, strategy, creative development, deployment, and performance metrics, to say nothing of pivoting and iterating based on performance. Outsourcing these tasks saves you time - time that can be redeployed elsewhere to focus on core business operations and critical decision-making.
Agencies invest in, and have access to, the latest tools, technologies, and platforms. Outsourcing means you benefit from these resources without incurring the cost of purchasing and maintaining them in-house.
Scalability + Elasticity
Market fluctuations are a fact of life, and your business may be affected by them. Outsourcing lets you scale up or down quickly based on fluctuating needs. Whether it's a short-term project or a long-term strategic engagement, outsourcing gives you the flexibility to adjust resources and adapt to changing market conditions
Something else no one talks about are the personnel costs. Sure, you need to hire more people, but that also means incremental HR expenses, new employee onboarding, sick leave to cover, payroll expenses, 401k contributions, training, and more. The simple solution to all those added expenses is an agency.
Turnover impacts internal team dynamics. Institutional knowledge is lost, putting tons of pressure on the remaining team. Maybe there is a skill gap that happens as a result, maybe someone has to learn on the fly. With an agency, you don’t have to worry about your strategy getting paused. They’ll partner you with another team member and keep your campaign moving forward. For your business, that means you can continue getting value from digital marketing. The right agency can be a key element of strategic continuity.
Common Pitfalls by Function
We’ve taken a birds-eye-view of the issues, but now let's dive in and look at specific areas where having an in-house agency can lead to challenges you won’t face with an external agency partner.
Agencies have knowledge sets across search, social, programmatic, publisher, AMB programs, and more. They also have access to cross-client benchmarking, meaning they know what’s “normal” for B2B clients in a variety of spaces. Those are all things that an in-house team would find hard to come by.
On top of that, agencies often have negotiating power with certain partners due to other client relationships and spend.
- Air cover. Access an entire department, from an executive sponsor to creative directors and down to the creative team for what a single person can provide in-house.
- Access. Agency creatives have a broader vendor list (photographers, directors, etc.) and do the legwork of outsourcing those vendors for you.
- Perspective. In-house teams tend to be myopically embedded in the process and product and often lack a fresh perspective as a result. Proximity to the product inhibits them from doing the additional research and exploration expected of an external team. In-house teams are product-centric and knowledgeable but outsourced creative resources offer a broader perspective and better insights into how to cater to specific audiences, often because they have experience working on projects across multiple verticals and market segments solving for a variety of storytelling challenges.
- Direction. Unbiased external resources help steer user experience in the right direction in ways that will make the program more productive. It’s important to have a partner who will challenge you and apply productive pressure end-to-end.
- Speed of Change. The world of search engine optimization has never moved more quickly than it does right now. It’s virtually impossible for in-house SEO resources to execute needed work while also staying on top of Google best practices, SGE & AI considerations, volatility indexes, Google Search Liaison office hours, Core Web Vitals evolution, and other dynamic modern SEO needs.
Agencies make it their business to develop up-to-date mastery of the latest changes to Google’s algorithm and search paradigms so that you don’t have to wonder if you missed the latest Search update that ends up being the blocker to your company’s content success.
- Pseudo-experts. When SEO first came on the scene, it was easy to say you were an “expert.” Back then, including basic keywords was all that was really needed. It takes a lot more than that to be an actual SEO expert these days. Unfortunately, most people proclaiming to have mastered it really only have a rudimentary early-2000s-era understanding of SEO that drastically oversimplifies what’s needed for a given page to rank in today’s hardened and content-flooded search environment.
These days, to unlock even entry-level results you need a mastery of technical SEO, which used to be a sub-discipline but is now a primary focus. If you think that throwing a bunch of questionably-sourced “keywords” into a document is all that’s needed to grow traffic to a webpage… think again.
- Software is a tool, not a solution. Giving one in-house SEO resource a login for one of the top 5 SEO software tools in the market is a poor substitute for a dedicated agency-side SEO team of real experts. No matter how hard these SEO software companies market to you about how their software can solve all your problems, they aren’t as nimble and quick to react as a team. They can’t research and implement a cohesive and thoughtful strategy that jives with how people actually organically search.
- Make use of full-service dashboard analytics and reporting. We here at BOL integrate data streams across all active channels, provide access to intuitive dashboards, routinely validate data accuracy, and provide insights to give your team a holistic view of marketing performance.
- Know how to level up the KPIs and reports you provide to executive leadership. BOL helps guide clients through our Analytics Maturity Curve, a best practices guide that outlines the critical path to take your marketing analytics from basic web tracking through advanced revenue forecasting and attribution modeling.
- Take credit where credit is due. Our team of analysts and data engineers help clients audit their sources from web to CRM to ensure that adequate tracking is implemented to capture offline conversions and form fills, ensuring marketing attribution is fully represented.
- Know which direction your organization is moving. All of our solutions are based on trending data controlled with rich filter sets, allowing your team to measure performance against prior periods, measure the impact of seasonality, and/or benchmark new strategies.
Professional Services (Project Management)
Agency Project Managers have numerous years of experience and expertise in a wide range of project types and functions, all specific to marketing. Most In-House PMO Departments have only general PM experience, suited more for internal organization projects, not performance marketing efforts.
That means if your company does not have a PMO, you’re likely to be saddled with project managing your efforts yourself. That’s something no marketing manager or marketing team wants on their plate.
An agency Project Manager not only acts as the cohesive leader of the agency teams and subject matter experts but can also help the client with organizing their operations as well.
In-housing may not be a dream come true
Proposing the creation of an in-house marketing team may have the best of intentions, but the pitfalls are numerous and nearly impossible to avoid. Not to mention it’s expensive and takes years of trial and error. We’d be remiss in saying that it can never work, in some specific and very lucky instances, it does.
The question you have to ask yourself is, do you want to take that very expensive risk? Before you do, let us show you what a B2B marketing partner can do for your business.