Outsourcing versus in-house: The marketing Hokey Cokey



In or out? No, we aren’t talking about Brexit but another hot topic for CMOs. As a marketing leader, what marketing activity should you outsource and what should you bring in-house? Do you do a ‘Specsavers,’ appoint a CD in-house and develop all your marketing assets with an internal team, or do you follow the example of an FMCG and outsource everything?

It’s a really tricky question – so how do you go about deciding what to keep in and what to outsource?

From our experience there is no right or wrong answer (surprise, surprise) – it all depends on a number of factors and how these interplay to deliver the best ‘value’ for the organisation.

So for anyone currently looking at what to keep in and what to put out, we would suggest considering the following:

  1. Organisational culture & capability

Most haute couture brands never outsource design because it is in their brand DNA. They naturally attract people of a creative nature and it would be ridiculous to outsource this. In a similar vein, software companies will often naturally attract the digitally savvy and experienced.

Compare that to Pharma where the opportunity to be creative may be perceived to be somewhat less and the possibility of attracting leading creative talent may not come. If it does, it’s usually with an exceedingly high price tag.

So it’s critical to consider your brand’s DNA as this will affect the type of talent your organisation can attract.

  1. Market and consumer dynamics

How quickly do things change in your market? Are you catering to millennials that expect an immediate answer, or is your market operating at a slower pace to a less demanding audience? Will an agency or outsourced supplier be able to deliver marketing at the speed you need and when you need it?

Another consideration is the speed your consumer / market moves. Is it so fast you need specific industry or category experts that you just wouldn’t be able to get in-house?

  1. Brand & organisation complexity

How much organisational and brand knowledge is needed to deliver your marketing?

In an always on technology driven world we have seen a move to ‘long standing organising ideas’ and a desire to deliver more consistent messaging.  With a long running ‘idea’ you need the team behind this to be the ‘brand experts’. The question is, can you get this from outsourced resource or is this better handled internally?

  1. Customer centricity

How much information and insight are you prepared to share with agencies and how much do you want to control in house? Are there certain key functions where customer insight is better kept within the organisation?

Alternatively, as a business do you need ‘an external perspective’ to cut thorough internal politics and make sure you are really in touch with what your customers want?

  1. Value

Finally, this is what it often comes down to.  What is the most cost effective / efficient approach for the business overall?  Financially is it prudent to put another head into a department or could you buy better quality creativity / thinking at the times you need it at a cheaper / equivalent rate?

So lots to consider in the debate around ‘in or out’.

And on this occasion and for this type of work it might be prudent to go ‘out’ to some experts for some help. We would be more than happy to discuss this with you, please click here to contact us.

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