In this guest post, John Vlasakakis (main photo), head of organic search at Next & Co, weighs into adland’s biggest and ongoing debate – agency versus in-house…
A decision businesses will ultimately face is whether they should keep their marketing in-house or partner with an agency. It is an important decision, and companies must carefully analyse the pros and cons of both options. In-house marketing means all activities are handled within the company by an internal marketing team, whereas, agency marketing uses an external company, which you pay to use, to market your business.
Here, we look at the pros and cons of both models.
In-house marketing pros
Brand Familiarity and Focus
The main advantages of using an in-house marketing team are brand familiarity, accessibility, focus and control. Agencies manage multiple brands, unlike an internal team which can focus exclusively on their brand and work together to implement their marketing strategy and vision. They are familiar with the brand inside and out, which informs all their marketing decisions.
In-house marketing teams are easy to reach, you can walk over to their desk or office to ask a simple question or to discuss a few things, unlike agencies which may require a few hours or even days to reply.
Hiring an agency requires the business to hand over complete or a majority of control. This suggests that companies that like to be involved in their marketing decisions will be more satisfied with an internal team which they have full control over, and most importantly, for IP protection.
In-house marketing cons
An in-house team has multiple disadvantages; the essential one is cost. Hiring internally can cost 50-100% more than an agency. It can take months, if not years, before a business can develop a marketing team with the considerable skills and expertise required.
In the event of a team member leaving, there will be knowledge loss and a replacement is required immediately. Losing an expert can significantly impact the marketing team and limit their productivity unless another member with similar skills can fill the role.
Agency marketing pros
When a company decides to partner with an agency, they can pick from the most experienced companies in the industry. The level of high-quality work can increase the value and ROI from digital marketing for the business, within set budgets.
Agencies can offer skills which internal teams cannot match, particularly small to medium-sized companies which may only hire one to four employees. Agencies have various employees with diversified skills, and they can offer your business new, innovative and fresh ideas.
Keep up with trends
Unlike agencies, businesses can only implement strategies which they are familiar with. They cannot experiment with new tools or techniques unless they hire an experienced individual every time. This doesn’t only have financial implications, but also the need to keep pace with marketing trends. In contrast, an agency has the software, the expertise and the innovative mindset to help brands reach their full potential.
Agency marketing cons
A few cons for an agency model include staff turnover, IP protection, and exclusivity. Businesses are unable to control the agency which they partner with; therefore, it can be quite frustrating when an employee whom they have been dealing with for many months, leaves.
By giving the agency access to your company’s private information, like customer data, logo, accounts, or even processes, it is crucial to partner with a reliable and trustworthy agency partner, to keep your business and employees safe.
As agencies partner with various clients, some may feel neglected; however, many agencies strive to ensure each brand feels like they are the only one they manage.
The answer is hybrid
A hybrid model is where businesses employ both in-house and agency marketing models. This is the way forward. The company can focus on internal tasks which are of high value, like strategy, and this will allow the agency to focus on the media and creative strategy. An agency that has a team with diverse abilities and expertise can execute various processes, like SEO, media buying and pay per click campaigns, for example.
There is no wrong or right decision in terms of choosing which digital marketing team will provide the best outcome for your business. However, it is vital to consider the direction in which your brand is heading and whether hiring an innovative and qualified marketing agency can produce that level of service for you, or whether hiring an internal team is a better investment.
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