Build it or buy it? Know when to outsource your marketing vs keeping it inhouse

Curated by
Jussi Koivusaari
June 8, 2022
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Every marketer, at some stage or another, weighs up the pros and cons of outsourcing their company marketing to an agency, versus the merits of hiring the people and capabilities to handle it all in-house. In this blog post Ismo Nikkola, previous Deputy CEO at Avidly and Chairman of AMIN Worldwide EMEA, shares his thoughts on which question should be asked before you make your decision.

“While there is no short and simple answer, there are a variety of factors to consider when making this decision,” says Ismo Nikkola. 

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What are the main benefits of hiring an agency?

An integrated agency doesn’t just have expert marketers. They have experts in the different disciplines of marketing, including strategy, creative design, SEO, web development, copywriting, social media, public relations and direct marketing. 

“If you want a variety of specialists to work on your marketing, an agency makes more sense. It’s impossible to know everything, and one person can’t be an expert in everything marketing-related,” says Nikkola.

With an agency, you also get the added benefit of working with people who are experienced in specific industries or working across multiple industries, offering you a broader perspective of your business.

What will it cost you?

While an in-house team might seem more cost-effective, there are costs other than salaries to consider. Hiring, onboarding, salaries, training, upskilling and equipping a team of in-house marketing specialists can get expensive quickly.

“When you hire an agency, you get the benefits of having access to all the same expertise and experience for about the same cost as one employee. What’s more, when you appoint an agency, your business will not have to incur hidden costs such as recruitment fees, training, employee development and employee benefits – work can start from the get-go,” says Nikkola.

Investing in the right software and systems like media monitoring, digital marketing platforms and direct marketing tools can also get costly. Agencies bring with them the marketing systems and capabilities needed to best run, track and report on campaigns, plus the licenses that they have can offer cost benefits to clients.

Are your capabilities meeting your ambitions?

Sometimes businesses have a vision for the future that cannot be achieved with their current capabilities. It can be that there is just simply a lack of knowledge on how to achieve these targets, which is something that an agency can either discover or deliver for you.

If a business is stalling and growth is slowing down, it could be a result of poor customer service, mismanagement or ineffective marketing. No matter the reason, having the benefit of outside, expert opinion can help kick-start growth and revitalise the business.

“An agency can bring a different perspective and help identify areas of your business or marketing strategy that need fine-tuning,” says Nikkola.

“A marketing expert has a good understanding of the market and competitive landscape, which can help freshen up marketing materials for a more consistent look and feel, craft content that tells your brand story in a much more engaging and creative manner or identifies new channels to reach a wider audience," he continues  

Do you need your strategy to be brought to life creatively?

Creativity is not just about a graphic designer updating your company’s brochures or designing new banners for your website. Creative ideas that capture attention and successfully promote your business, require innovative thinking, solid conceptual skills and authenticity. 

“Having agencies experts working on your brand will ensure your marketing strategy achieves its objectives in a way that gets attention, excites and engages your customers. An agency will focus on aligning your brand’s creative and content to your strategy from the get-go, across all your marketing platforms and channels,” says Nikkola.

Is your sales manpower outweighing your marketing?

Many companies often employ a large sales department, but their marketing team is usually only one or two people strong. Only balanced sales and marketing teams that work together, can build and grow the business in the long term. Hiring the right people and insourcing marketing skills across digital, branding and PR can be costly, which is why an agency makes better financial sense.

Is your focus on creating content or copywriting?

Marketing right now is all about content. Quality content that gets the clicks, leads and publicity are about much more than putting pen to paper. A good marketing content creator knows exactly how to craft a message that gets noticed and which mediums to use to convince people to take action.  

“It’s impossible to train people to become solid, well-rounded marketing content creators. They need to be nurtured and exposed to response-driven marketing to hone those skills,” says Nikkola.  

Do you need a campaign that goes beyond borders?

Having a team in-house, with the skills and capabilities required, to develop and implement campaigns in foreign territories is not always possible.  

“An agency affiliated with an international network will be able to offer you the right in-country skills, capabilities and local insights to get your campaign off the ground quickly and effectively”, says Nikkola.

All considered, if you can afford to hire a multitude of people with different skill sets – and have enough work for all of them – then an in-house marketing team would be the best choice. If you only need one aspect managed, hiring a single in-house employee works as well. If you are looking to develop a complete, top-to-bottom marketing strategy, an agency may make more sense. 

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