Almost, every business leader who is looking at scaling marketing operations faces this conundrum at least once in their lifetime. And even when they finally decide, after so much deliberation, they are always unsure about the move.
The truth is that there is no right answer to this question. The choice depends on various factors that vary from business to business. Here are certain pointers that should definitely be factored while making this choice:
1.Size of Operations: One of the most important factors on which your decision should be based is the size of operations of a business.
Let’s say that you are a small company with less than 100 employees, it would not make sense for you to hire an in-house team since the scale of operations will be too small for an in-house team. It will always make sense for you to hire an agency which with experts for different services who can help you extract the best out of your marketing budgets. But if you are a significantly larger organization with more scaled operations, you may consider setting an in-house team.
2.Business Category: If you are catering to a very niche segment where knowledge transfer and domain expertise in terms of marketing strategies are not easy and are essential for scale and optimization, then it would definitely make sense to have an in-house team. But if you are catering to a generic segment where industry knowledge and cross-domain knowledge can be extremely helpful an external agency would definitely be the way to go.
3.Marketing Objectives: Your marketing objective and your short term & long term marketing goals also become very important in making this decision. If your short term objective is to grow quickly and scale your business very quickly, it would make more sense to bet on an external agency who has the expertise to do it, rather than finding individuals who may or may not be able to work in synergy. But if you are looking at a slow and steady growth over a period you have the liberty to invest more time in finding the right talents for your marketing requirements and then scale the operations gradually.
So the above factors should be good for you to start thinking about the direction in which you wish to go. But that’s not all, any decision that you make will come with it’s set of pros and cons. You need to decide where the tradeoff is required and where it’s unnecessary:
1.Control v/s Creativity
The biggest advantage of having an in-house team is that you have control over the operations. Your timelines for any activity reduce since the team is only working on 1 project. You can take a campaign live very quickly and you can start any marketing initiatives much faster. But all of this comes with a small setback that the since the internal team has limited exposure and has a mindset restricted with brand guidelines and brand concepts, the creative output may not be as high as with an agency.
2.Cost v/s Performance
Commissioning an external agency would definitely come at a higher cost as compared to hiring an in-house marketing professional/team but the advantage is that an agency can never get complacent. Since they always need to perform well, they always need to deliver as per and beyond expectations, to ensure that the client is retained and that the business keeps on increasing (for them, as well), they do not get complacent. This everlasting need for high performance makes in an agency or smarter choice even though the cost of an agency is slightly higher as compared to an in-house team.
3.Hassle-Free Output v/s Cross Domain Knowledge
Another tradeoff of having an in-house team versus hiring a marketing agency is that you get to have a hassle-free output. Your employees work on one single brand at any and every given point and time and their only focus is on your particular brand. Hence extracting output from them becomes extremely easy and stress-free. On the other hand, your employees have only been working in a particular domain and have only been looking at a few other brands (competitors). This, unfortunately, results in a very poor pool of knowledge and grasping. We all know that the current market is extremely dynamic and hence cross-domain knowledge, understanding & implementation might lack in an in-house team. An agency, on the other hand, would have a lot of exposure in this aspect and can do wonders for the brand.
For all those who are looking to find a solution, this article may not be your answer, but and I sure it will definitely guide you to the right one. In case you have any further questions, feel free to add them as comments.