The in-house versus outsourcing marketing dilemma

Businessman at crossroads deciding between outsourcing and inhouse

Marketing takes a significant amount of time and resource for any business to implement and to be done well it needs structure and the right levels of support.

Every business is different. When it comes to the best route to take there are numerous factors to consider, which can affect and influence your decision.  Whether you are looking at outsourcing marketing or taking it in-house, we explore the pros and cons of each option.

In-house marketing pros:

  • Allocated resource – Having a dedicated member of staff in-house responsible for marketing provides a greater presence and means they can truly immerse themselves into the business, it’s culture, product and internal processes.
  • Higher levels of resource – If there is urgent work to be undertaken in other areas of the business then in-house resource could potentially be reallocated to cover those gaps as and when needed.
  • Rapid communication – Having a presence in the office keeps momentum and drives things forward at a faster pace.  Communication with senior decision makers can be instant and if someone isn’t responding to calls or emails you can see them in person.  Organising meetings and setting up marketing campaigns can happen far quicker, as everyone is pulling together in the same direction.
In House Marketing Team Graphic

In-house marketing cons:

  • HR impact – Recruiting marketing resource internally can incur higher expense.  It’s more than just the salary.  There’s the tax, NI, pension contributions and holiday and sick pay to consider. If a team member is absent will there be adequate cover and who will pick up their workload to ensure continuity?
  • Management & support – If you are taking on staff with little to no commercial marketing experience you will need to be mindful of their development and the level of support required.  Who will be the person that can coach and mentor them to develop in their roles, how will they be managed day to day? 
  • Breadth of experience – The marketing role can be extremely broad, covering all areas of the marketing mix.  It is highly unlikely you are going to find an expert who ticks all of the boxes.  If you outsource you will benefit from experience across a range of industries and companies, as well as expertise within specific marketing channels such as PR, SEO, PPC, social media etc.  All of which can bring a fresh perspective.
The concept of outsourcing in modern business

Outsourcing marketing pros:

An alternative to in-house resource is outsourcing to a marketing specialist or agency.  This leaves business leaders with more time to focus on the tasks where they are best suited and can concentrate on managing internal and operational aspects of the organisation.

  • Flexibility – Scale up or down depending on the level of support you require, so resource can be allocated depending on the amount of work required at any given time.  It is far more cost-effective to outsource to a marketing professional at a senior level than to employ them directly in-house. On average an independent marketing consultant will cost around half that of hiring a permanent employee.
  • Marketing expertise – Taking the opportunity to tap into outsourced marketing providers gives access to significant amounts of experience.  Having worked with a range of businesses and industries and undertaken a range of different projects there is the opportunity to share ‘best practice’ that has been learnt along the way.
  • Independent approach– You’re more likely to get an impartial viewpoint. A fresh pair of eyes can bring new and fresh perspectives to your business.  Carefully choose outsourced marketing professionals that are keen to drive results and demonstrate Return On Investment (ROI), so that your marketing investment stretches as far as possible and is focused in the right areas to help you grow your business.

Outsourcing marketing Cons:

  • Familiarity – Outsourcing marketing will mean your team needs time to get to know your outsourced providers and it will inevitably take time to understand how each other work to truly leverage the relationship.
  • Instant Access – Your outsourced marketing team may have other clients and may be working on other projects alongside your business.  This brings wealth of experience and perspective, however there may be occasions when you may not always have immediate access to marketing resource and will not necessarily be the central focus on a daily basis.
  • Buy-in – Your internal teams have to buy-in to using outsourced marketing support and they will need to develop a strong working relationship with good communication to ensure productive collaboration between the two parties.  It’s also important that your outsourced marketing provider aligns with the culture and values of your business to get the most from it.
Outsource Hire Keys Showing Subcontracting And Freelance Workers

And then there’s the hybrid option:

  • Flexibility – The hybrid approach is often adopted with the intention of achieving the ‘best of both worlds’.  It provides the opportunity to benefiting from dedicated in-house resources, whilst calling on specialists for outsourced marketing support whether that be around SEO, copywriting, PR, social media or PPC to name a few.  This resource can be utilised on a long-term basis or on ad-hoc basis as and when required giving far more flexibility.
  • Larger marketing resource – Extend your team to create a function which delivers all areas of the marketing mix for your business.  You have your strong in-house resource, but can also leverage capabilities and specialisms which work seamlessly.  It can be seen as a natural extension of your team at a fraction of the cost to do this all in-house.
  • ProgressionMarketing is a fast-moving industry especially when it comes to the digital elements and it’s hard to always cover this effectively with in-house resource.  For example, consider SEO, just as you are ranking well on Google they will suddenly update their algorithms and immediately your rankings have dropped overnight.  Elements like this need someone who is at the forefront of their specialism that can advise on best practice and how to overcome these hurdles.

Whether outsourcing marketing to a specialist marketing provider or taking your marketing in-house there really is no right or wrong answer.  It’s about deciding what is best for your business. Ultimately choosing the option that will help you reach your business goals and deliver the greatest return in terms of driving enquiries, closing opportunities and growing a profitable business over the long term.

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Vicky is a CIM qualified marketing consultant with a strong commercial focus. Her experience spans over 18 years, working across a range of sectors.

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