Which is the right choice for your company?

The question of whether to outsource marketing, keep it in house, or use a combination of the two is a complex one. It goes beyond just budget to encompass industry norms, marketing needs and frequency, and available skill sets. However, here’s how outsourced marketing and in-house marketing compare in three key areas.

1. Cost

The number one reason companies consider outsourcing some or all of their marketing is cost. Either the cost of hiring and maintaining a dedicated marketing staff is prohibitive, or they need to cut costs and an outsourced marketing agency is seen as the cheaper alternative.

Many investments go into in-house marketing employees, beyond just salary. There are health care costs, training and continuing education, administrative costs, vacations and other benefits to consider, as well as the need to supply an office and equipment.

By outsourcing marketing, you reduce this overhead by paying directly for the services that you need, or a set amount for a specific project. With a fixed rate, you can set a pre-determined budget and know exactly what you’ll spend.

2. Knowledge of Your Brand & Industry

Marketing tactics can vary widely from industry to industry, and it is crucial to entrust your marketing to someone with relevant knowledge.

An in-house employee will not only have firsthand knowledge of your services and customer base, but will be an active part of your brand culture. Ultimately, no one knows your business better than you do, which can make an in-house marketer extremely valuable.

If you’re in a highly specialized or niche industry, one that’s highly technical or has many regulations, you may find that having at least some of your marketing in-house is a smart option. An alternative is to seek out an outsourced marketing firm with experience in your industry, and designate knowledgeable in-house employees to provide the information and oversight needed.

A skilled and versatile outsourced marketing firm can market these specialized industries effectively, but a learning curve should be expected—as there would be with hiring a new in-house marketing employee. Open, effective communication will be needed to ensure that messaging is on target and complex information is correct.

There is also something to be said for an outside perspective. An outside marketing firm can provide unbiased opinions that aren’t colored by history or company politics, as well as fresh ideas and different points of view.

3. Marketing Expertise & Skill Sets

Today’s marketing requires myriad skill sets—graphic design, copywriting, web development, search engine marketing, video, and email marketing, just to name a few. Internet marketing strategies and technologies also change rapidly, requiring marketers to constantly learn and adapt.

While every company has different marketing needs and budgets, it can be cost-prohibitive for many companies to support a team that can supply all of the skills required to carry out their marketing strategy.

Some companies attempt to keep costs down by hiring one employee to handle all their marketing, or by having employees take on marketing tasks as a secondary job duty. The reality is that all the skills needed for successful marketing are very seldom, if ever, found in one person. A copywriter is not a graphic designer, and a web developer is not a public relations expert. Someone trying to wear so many different hats will not only be less effective, but will be left with little or no time to focus on overall strategy for business growth.

An outsourced marketing agency gives companies access to a full marketing team with in-depth skill sets. A fixed or flat rate service can be an efficient and cost-effective way to fill in skills gaps or augment an in-house team. For example, you may have an in-house team that’s ace at handling print ads and catalogs, but you bring in an outsourced team for your online marketing.

There are countless opportunities for outside agencies and in-house marketing teams to join forces. This can offer the best advantages of both—deep insider knowledge of your brand and industry, paired with flexible skill sets and cost savings. An outside marketing firm can also help take some of the workload off an over-stretched in-house team, so they can focus on what they do best…moving your business forward.