With in-house staff, why do I need to outsource my marketing to an agency?
Ask Silver Bullet: December 2015
I obviously have to declare a vested interest here as our business is supplying marketing support to a wide variety of regional, national and international organisations!
Whilst the very fact that ourselves and other agencies have been successfully trading for many years (coming up to 17 in our case) would indicate that many companies are happy to outsource marketing, this doesn’t really tell the whole story as the optimum situation for marketing, as with many other business functions, probably lies in a compromise with in-house staff working hand in hand with an external agency.
Such a situation creates the best of both worlds – internal product or service knowledge coupled with external marketing expertise but before experts from both sides throw up their arms in protest at this statement, I’m not suggesting that in-house marketing staff lack marketing expertise nor external agencies have no product or service knowledge, but rather suggesting that internal staff have intimate knowledge of their offering whilst external support brings in expertise and experience from a wide variety of campaigns.
So, at the risk of offending everyone, look closely at internal staff – they may have many years of experience but is this in reality not one year repeated many times over whilst external agencies bring a fresh look with ideas collected from different campaigns in different sectors. On the other hand, your internal staff will know their product or service intimately, they’ll also know the route to purchase, your customers or distributors, your competitors and decision makers and budget makers within the organisation. They’ll know about past campaigns, what has worked well and what has not and they’ll be aware of new products or services due to be launched.
External agencies, however, are results driven – they know their service has to add value to their clients’ bottom line or their contracts are unlikely to be renewed. They’re also probably cheaper with no HMRC, holiday, maternity/paternity, pension or redundancy considerations required to be taken into account. In addition, external staff are not affected by internal office politics, so often a barrier to not only creativity, but also productivity.
But more, and much more than all of this, is that agencies bring pure creativity, marketing expertise and experience to the table whether this be in graphic design, PR, strategy, digital media, print or media buying and the host of other disciplines in which inexperience can prove costly.
Agency graphic designers, for example, will not only invariably be trained to degree level but will also be working on professional design projects every single working day and the end result of their work will invariably be superior to amateur attempts by non-qualified internal staff – an MD wouldn’t ask an unqualified lawyer or HR person to devise legal or HR policies and the same should go for graphic material and other marketing collateral – yes, Jimmy’s son may be a dab hand at social media, but do you really want him to be in control of your web site?
Copywriting, media relations, event management and other PR tasks also require special skills, usually honed on many years of experience so again why not use their expertise rather than attempt these tasks internally, putting additional pressure on inexperienced staff who have their own jobs to do in addition?
Agencies, in turn, will be the first to out-source for services for themselves – speaking personally, our own legal, HR and accountancy requirements are entirely fulfilled by long term partners in response to our briefs and I would always follow their advice on matters, never dreaming of ignoring it thinking I knew better than these professionals – the same should be true of marketing.
In essence, different people thrive in different environments – clients visiting agencies often comment on the seemingly ‘laid back’ feel to them yet this is precisely the environment that creative people traditionally require to perform to their full potential. Copywriters, designers, photographers, coders and the host of other specialists that agencies employ may not always conform to external standards in other commercial environments, but they produce superb work in their own.
So, why not play to everyone’s strengths rather than their weaknesses? Use your own team’s abilities wherever possible but take advantage of the unique creativity, experience and expertise that external assistance can bring. If the two can then be merged, you have the winning combination of in-house product and market knowledge with external expertise.
So do you need to be a bit more creative with your marketing? Do you need to review your strategy or do you have another marketing question we can help with? Talk to us. Email your questions anonymously to us today firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet us (not so anonymously) @SilverBulletPR and use the hash tag #AskSB