Should You Stay In-House or Outsource Your Marketing?

outsource your marketing

By Brooke B. Sellas, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Do you outsource your marketing? Or are you no-source … in-sourced … or co-sourced?

With a million ways to get help with marketing, how do you know which option is right for your company?

Mark Schaefer and I recently had a discussion on this topic at Social Media Marketing World 2018.

And while recent headlines will put you in a panic that everyone is moving their marketing in-house, that’s just not the case.

Here’s some fodder for you if you’re figuring your own situation out.

The Case For Keeping It In-House

Recently, brands like United, Proctor & Gamble, and Unilever have moved certain outsourced marketing activities in-house.

It seems agencies just aren’t set up to deal with corporate red tape, according to one executive.

“This is going to shrink the size of the outside agency pie because agencies are often not set up to keep pace with the range of tactics and navigate organizations in the ways now required.”

Other cases of keeping marketing in-house are

  • Disagreements over contractual language
  • Pricing
  • Scope or job overlap

Additionally, brands are finding success in bringing creative in-house.

Unilever, for instance, said its in-house teams are creating content faster and around 30% cheaper than external agencies.

A driver behind moving in-house is around content curation.

outsource your marketing


Because content increasingly needs to take a strategic approach, many companies are seeing it as a must in-source task.

Finally, Adobe & Econsultancy’s “2018 Digital Trends” shows that

  • 82% of respondents plan to bring content creation in-house
  • Organizations that manage content in-house are 29% more likely to have exceeded their 2017 goals

If you’re an agency reading this, don’t panic just yet!

The Hybrid Approach

Co-sourcing seems to be a growing trend as well.

With this approach, agencies aren’t left in the dark. Their piece of the pie is just smaller.

A study from eMarketer shows that just over half (52%) of companies use a combination of outsourced and in-house resources.

outsource your marketing

Even though companies would like to have more control, they just aren’t ready for specialized skills or situations.

The GDPR changes are one factor. When the compliance of GDPR becomes enforceable in May, businesses may find themselves on the wrong side of the fence.

Companies incapable of managing and storing first-party data on their own will need to consider a hybrid approach.

At my company, we’re often engaging in the hybrid or co-sourcing option. While the client is largely responsible for the strategic plan, we cover the gaps with day-to-day or project-based work that requires a special skill set.

outsource your marketing

For instance, bringing in an outside person or team of people often allows companies and brands …

  • Alternative processes and perspectives
  • A cutting-edge approach
  • Special skill sets & industry experience

If you already have a marketing strategy in place, you may want to see how you can fire on implementation with a hybrid team.

When To Outsource Your Marketing

While a volatile economy and financial pressures are great reasons to keep marketing in-house, outsourcing isn’t dead.

For instance, we’re already seeing a huge spike in project work at B Squared Media. These shorter, specialized projects allow our smaller team to focus directly on the clients’ needs and get deliverables out quickly.

Being a “boutique” agency plays in our favor since our clients don’t have to filter through a “chain of command” to get an answer. Every client has my mobile number and a dedicated Account Manager.

I think this is a HUGE area agencies need to consider.

The need to outsource highly specialized or extremely quick-turnaround projects will always be there.

And when the reality hammer of becoming a headhunter to recruit those special skills comes down on the client, in-housing seems far less ideal.

Bottom line: outsourcing your marketing provides specialized skills — only when they’re needed.

How about you? Do you keep marketing in-house, take the hybrid approach, our outsource your marketing where needed? I’d love to know! Give me a shout in the comments section below.

Brooke Ballard for {grow}Brooke B. Sellas is a done-for-you social media manager & owner at B Squared Media, blossoming blogger, and a purveyor of psychographics. Her mantra is “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” so be sure to give her a shout on Twitter.


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