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In-House or Outsource?

BY Todd Kamp

WHICH ONE IS BEST FOR YOUR SITE?

For CEOs of major corporations to entrepreneurs just getting their start, it’s a question as old as time itself. “Who should tackle my marketing plan?” Okay, maybe this wasn’t as big a concern for cavemen, but then again, someone had to pitch why fire SHOULD be played within certain cases.

When it comes to your fire, product, or service, marketing isn’t something that can be taken lightly. Marketing can be a significant investment or something that’s out of sight, out of mind until it’s too late. And, that’s putting it lightly.

In fact, a solid, well-thought-out marketing plan takes nuance, experience, and a lot of hours. Which means, the real questions you should be asking yourself are:

  • “Do I want to handle all the marketing myself?”

  • “CAN I handle all the marketing myself?”

  • “Do I know anyone that knows my brand and understands my goals?”

  • “What do I need? Collateral, social posts, a few brochures, or a brand-new website?”

  • “How much do I have to spend to get what I’m looking for?”

  • “What is my audience? Who are the stakeholders I need to impress?”

  • “Am I after leads, brand awareness, or a facelift?”

  • “What kind of tools do I need to be successful on my own?”

  • “Can I write for this brand? Can I design the logo? Can I manage email campaigns?”

  • “Where do I even start?”

With those top-of-mind fears on the table, let’s see if we can help answer some of these questions by breaking down the options ahead of you.

THE IN-HOUSE MARKETING TEAM

Here, you have the most control over your day-to-day. That is, everything from the positions you need filled to the hours logged per task and the overall direction of the creative. Plus, an in-house team is the only way you can be sure of where every penny gets spent.

PROS
  1. Your team is built exactly the way you want it
    • Want to focus on the brass tacks? A social media intern that doubles as a blog writer may do the trick. One graphic designer for some brochures and PPC ads could hold you over while you’re keeping afloat.
  2. Projects and tasks don’t require PAs and scope docs
    • There’s no need to get “approval” for new work. You just assign and go about your day. Sure, you need internal approval, but there’s no DocuSign-ing and agreeing on price/scope/timeline/etc.
  3. You have complete control over the creative process
    • Many times, the grand design comes from within. And, it can be hard to relay that kind of inspiration to an outside group. When the stakeholders are the ones executing on creativity, your vision tends to line up just as you’d imagined. Otherwise, you’re looking at kickoffs and clarifications.
CONS
  1. Your ability to scale is limited
    • What you have is what you got. If a fire drill should come up and you don’t have someone that can write a press release, fix a site that’s down, or create a piece of collateral, then you’re looking at the classifieds – which takes time and money.
  2. Costs can get out of hand quickly
    • When you’re spending money on yourself, you don’t always see the bills pile up. Unlike an outside group where you get a clear idea of what you’ll spend month to month (or however you divvy it up), internal costs bring a whole new set of expenses. In addition to a competitive salary, there are insurance costs, office costs, bonuses, raises, per diems, etc.
  3. Creative can get stale and momentum can dry up
    • When dealing with a group that’s very close to the subject, things tend to get repetitious. You begin to rely on what’s always been done, what’s technically worked in the past, and you entrench yourself in values that may not ring true to the outside consumer or client. An outside team will give you a new perspective.

AN OUTSOURCE/WHITE LABEL GROUP

More and more agencies are choosing to outsource their digital work via a “white label” group. Why? Maybe it’s the low costs that agencies and in-house teams just can’t meet. Maybe it’s the extended skillsets and personnel – without the headache of hiring, onboarding, and justifying the position during droughts. Or, maybe it’s the ability to focus on business goals and growing the brand while another team takes care of the details/busy work/technical aspects.

Geared toward agencies looking to alleviate sudden fire drills and out-of-scope client requests, outsourcing allows you to get more work done without bogging down your client.

PROS
  1. Can be turned on and off like you would a light switch
    • The beauty of an outsourcing agency is the ability to use them as needed. This can be determined by things like budget, capacity, seasonal needs, expertise, and speed. In fact, utilization occurs at a much higher rate because you aren’t paying for any downtime or hiccups – just the pieces you agreed upon. The onus is on the agency to get things right the first time around.
  2. Low costs that flex with the amount of work being done
    • It’s no secret that low costs are the outsourcer’s biggest flex. By relying on a team that is often working from overseas, the costs of typical design and development are much more affordable. Again, you’re only paying for what you need at the time. If it’s 3D renders, you’re getting the render for a fraction of the cost, and you don’t have to worry about any of the overhead associated with an on-staff employee, nor do you have to worry about the hiring and training process.
  3. Skillsets on-call that you wouldn’t find without a lot of effort
    • Many outsource teams *cough White Label IQ cough* employ a full team of experts with the ability to get to work in a flash. So, when you need someone to manage a server issue at 1 am, there’s a qualified employee ready to hop on it. Just the same, if you choose correctly, *cough White Label IQ cough*, you’ll be working with a team that has already vetted their staff. This means you can expect the same quality you’d receive if you simply worked with a typical agency partner.
CONS
  1. Requires an outsourcing agency that communicates effectively
    • The biggest hurdle that clients fear going to an outsourcing agency is the ability to relay information that can be used efficiently and effectively. Why? Because a lot of the time, the key players are located in an entirely different part of the world and are asleep when work is being done in, let’s say, the United States. So, when choosing an outsource partner, make sure they have an established communication process with the people that will be executing on project tasks.
  2. There are many imitators out there, so you need to pick wisely
    • Another hurdle is the perception that quality will be poor with an outsourcing agency. And, the thing is, that’s the result of some agencies trying to make a quick buck. Without a proven track record, recommendations, or a team that is shown to work WITH you at every step, you’ll find yourself forever waiting on project completions.
  3. Less control over the details once a project has been kicked off
    • Sure, you can be as detailed as possible when it comes to the project scope doc; add bullet points and disclaimers and bolded words and highlight all you want to ensure your message gets across. However, you are also instilling some creative responsibility to the team you’ve chosen. In order to complete a task, the team is going to have to make some assumptions, offer up better alternatives, or deliver on something you may not have thought about before.

At the end of the day, the decision between an in-house team and an outside marketing agency is a matter of budget, convenience, and changes in the marketplace. With the business world constantly evolving and new needs continuing to arise, companies will undergo a handful of changes throughout their lifetime. Some will forgo marketing for a while, others will see it as a service, and some will always deem it an essential part of any business plan.

Yet, when it comes to the outsourcing option, more often than not, you’ll find that it’s a low-risk, high-reward way of filling in the gaps no matter which path you’re on.

How you choose to use it is up to you.