The Pros and Cons of an Internal Marketing Team

You may have lots of help from an outside agency, but building an internal marketing team could simplify your creative process. The pluses and minuses of taking your marketing function in-house.

Should you build up your own marketing capabilities or stick with an outside agency or firm?

It’s a relevant question, and one that many major advertisers are asking. In 2018, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) found that 78 percent of its U.S. members had some kind of in-house agency in 2018, versus 58 percent in 2013, and 42 percent in 2008.

While the in-house marketing shift is undeniable, does it make sense for your association? Here are some driving forces behind the trend and a breakdown of the pros and cons of taking your marketing function in-house.

Pro: Staying nimble. Traditional full-service agency relationships are often expensive and rife with long PowerPoints and even longer meetings. Beyond time and money, some agencies have simply been too slow to adjust to fast-changing industry needs, according to Harvard Business Review. Ask yourself: Can your current agency quickly adjust your campaigns based on the latest consumer data? Moreover, are you best-served by keeping an agency on retainer? For example, if you are looking for a finite slate of new videos for an Instagram campaign, can you just bring in a specialist for a short-term contract?

Pro: Data control. A survey by Digiday Research found that 38 percent of 214 brand marketers surveyed said they were taking their marketing work in-house as a way to have more control over not only performance and cost, but also so they can have better eyes on how data is being used—of urgent concern given privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act that give consumers more control over the information businesses hold on them.

Con: Cost. Building up a team isn’t always easy. First, there is the talent. You’ll need to recruit and train the right people. And retaining in-house staff is tough: According to Digiday Research, 43 percent of brand marketers surveyed “disagreed” with the statement that hiring or retaining staff is easier with an in-house team. Similarly, in a recent ANA survey, 63 percent of respondents said that keeping internal talent energized was their biggest concern. Adding to the cost pressure: Creating an in-house team often means staying on top of the latest technology and software.

Con: Groupthink. Having an outsider’s perspective can bring new thinking to a brand’s problems. And who can argue with fresh and exciting? “Strategy and ideas never go out of vogue,” said Jordan Bitterman, chief marketing officer at the Weather Company, in an interview with Business Insider.

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Jeff Hsin

By Jeff Hsin


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