In-house, Out-house, Bauhaus


4 steps to bring creative services inside your marketing team

You most likely have an in-house studio in your organisation, even if you’re not aware of it. That might be one or two Mac Operators sitting in a quiet corner, sprucing up presentations and adding colour to press releases, or your own version of Saatchi & Saatchi’s back-office (granted, you’re more likely to be aware of that).

For the purposes of this blog, let’s assume you’ve decided to go beyond your ‘under the radar’ Mac Operators and bring substantial amounts of creative services in-house (no, Bauhaus isn’t really an option). And let’s assume you’re aiming to do this for sound yet untested commercial reasons e.g. speed to market, lower cost, brand consistency, etc.

Having made this big decision, what steps should you follow to successfully implement it?

  1. Scope out the services

What exactly do you want your in-house studio to do? You need to construct a detailed scope of work (SoW), ideally based on work that is currently done elsewhere and is to be moved in-house. The SoW should be immensely granular, detailing material specifications, the type of work, number of iterations and costs.

The SoW will guide you through the next three steps – without it you are doomed to failure, or at least never knowing whether you’ve succeeded or not.

  1. Design the blueprint

For the SoW, work out what resources (people, tech, desks, software, etc.) you will need to deliver it. This is not as hard to do as it might sound, if your SoW details the estimated hours and skillsets required to deliver each type of output. This is where the granularity of your SoW comes under the spotlight, with work done on the SoW paying off ten-fold at this step.

  1. Create the business case

Without over-simplifying this step too much, simply compare the costs for the blueprint you’ve designed with the current costs for delivering the same SoW using your existing out-sourced suppliers (that does sound a little over-simplified, but you get the idea). Typically, you should see a saving of 30-40%, which can very quickly add up to a very compelling argument to support the capital and head-count investment required to get the studio off the ground.

  1. Operate like a business

So, you’ve done it – defined the SoW for your In-House Studio, designed the blueprint, gained approval for your business case and made it happen (which is another set of mini-steps). This is where the hard work really starts, as you must ensure the studio looks like and acts like a profit rather than a cost centre. That means reaching out to internal ‘customers’ and providing the same level of service they get from agencies and other suppliers. It means constantly delivering innovative and high quality work. And it means always sharing with customers what the work actually cost and how much it would have cost if done externally.

I don’t think I can summarise by saying creating an in-house studio is easy – I know from experience that it’s not. However, by keeping these four steps front of mind you can make the process bearable and ultimately worthwhile.

Paul Duxbury used to manage an in-house studio, before they got the better of him. He’s now Flock’s Practice Lead for Marketing Capability and helps big companies to design and create brilliant marketing organisations, populated with great people.

Paul can be reached at

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