In-House vs. Outsourced Marketing: Which is Best for Your Business?

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In-house vs out-house marketing depicted by a digital drawing of three individuals sitting behind computers with a chart behind them. Diagonally below, there is one man behind a computer virtually communicating with two people in a bubble with a chart behind them.

For many aspects of their business, decision-makers often grapple with whether to keep certain efforts in-house or to outsource them. Marketing is one of the areas that comes up frequently during these discussions.

That’s probably because the quality of your marketing strategies can be a game-changer for your business and its bottom line. You need to tell people who you are, convince them about why they need you, and demonstrate that you’re better than competitors. It’s not an easy task by any means so assembling a capable team is a must.

When it comes to in-house vs. outsourced marketing, which is better for your business? There’s no one right answer considering that all businesses have different needs, goals, and available resources. 

Both in-house marketing and outsourced marketing have their distinct advantages and potential drawbacks. 

As an outdoor media agency, we understand the complexities involved in deciding whether to keep marketing under your roof or to outsource it. In this post, we’ll aim to provide a balanced perspective, though we do believe there are compelling reasons to consider outsourcing.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

In-House Marketing

In-house marketing involves building a team within your company to handle all marketing activities. This can include everything from strategy development to execution and analysis. One 2020 survey found that 56% of US B2B businesses had in-house marketing teams.

Pros of In-House Marketing

  1. Full Control: You have direct oversight of all marketing activities and can ensure alignment with your brand values and business goals.
  2. Deep Understanding of Brand: An in-house team lives and breathes your brand so they’ll be intimately familiar with things like brand voice and personas.
  3. Quick Adjustments: Being part of the same organization allows for faster communication and quicker adjustments to strategies and campaigns.
  4. Team Collaboration: Easier collaboration with other departments can lead to more integrated marketing efforts.

Cons of In-House Marketing

  1. High Costs: Building and maintaining an in-house team can be expensive due to salaries, benefits, and ongoing training.
  2. Limited Skill Set: An in-house team may not have all the specialized skills required, leading to potential gaps in your marketing strategy.
  3. Resource Constraints: Small to medium-sized businesses may struggle with limited resources and bandwidth, affecting the overall effectiveness of marketing efforts.
  4. Complacency Risk: An in-house team may become too comfortable or lack the fresh perspective needed to innovate and stay competitive.

Outsourced Marketing

Outsourced marketing involves hiring an external agency or freelancers to handle your marketing activities. This can be on a project-by-project basis or through a long-term partnership. There are also cases in which a business may choose to have a mix of in-house and outsourced marketing—as is true for 38% of US B2B companies surveyed in 2020.

Pros of Outsourcing Marketing

  1. Cost-Effective: Outsourcing can be more cost-effective as you pay for services as needed, avoiding the overhead costs associated with full-time employees.
  2. Access to Expertise: Agencies bring a diverse set of skills and experiences to the table, providing access to cutting-edge strategies that can help you resonate with your target audience.
  3. Scalability: You can easily scale your marketing efforts up or down based on your business needs without the complexities of hiring or layoffs.
  4. Fresh Perspectives: An external team can offer new ideas and insights that might not be apparent to an in-house team.
  5. Focus on Core Business: Outsourcing allows you to focus on your core business activities while experts handle your marketing.

Cons of Outsourcing Marketing

  1. Less Control: You have less direct control over the day-to-day activities and may need to invest time in managing the relationship.
  2. Potential Misalignment: There can be a learning curve as the external team gets to know your brand and business.
  3. Communication Challenges: Working with an external team can sometimes lead to communication gaps or delays.
  4. Dependency: Relying too heavily on an external agency can make it difficult to bring marketing back in-house if needed.

In-House vs. Outsourced Marketing: Side-by-Side Comparison

Here’s a quick comparison of the pros and cons of each approach to help you make an informed decision:

In-House MarketingOutsourced Marketing
ControlHigh control over processes and messagingLess control, more reliance on agency
CostHigher fixed costs (salaries, benefits)More cost-effective, pay-as-you-go
Skill SetLimited to in-house expertiseAccess to diverse, specialized skills
ScalabilityHarder to scale quicklyEasy to scale up or down
PerspectiveMay lack fresh perspectivesOffers new ideas and innovation
FocusCan detract from core business activitiesAllows focus on core business
AdaptabilityQuick internal adjustmentsMay face delays in communication
AlignmentDeep brand understandingPotential initial misalignment

Deciding between in-house vs. outsourced marketing ultimately depends on your business’s specific needs, resources, and goals. An in-house team offers control and deep brand knowledge, while outsourcing provides flexibility, cost efficiency, and access to a wide range of expertise.

How to Get Started With Outsourcing

If you’ve never outsourced before, you may be wondering where to begin. How do you find the best options? How do you determine the right fit? And what sort of ground rules do you lay to ensure that the work gets done on time and meets/exceeds your expectations?

Some common ways that companies find outsourcing companies or freelancers is through these means:

  • Online research
  • Request for proposals
  • Industry networks and associations
  • Word of mouth
  • Social media and professional networks
  • Freelance platforms

Some of the above options require more effort on your part than others, but all of them are feasible ways to find great talent. Naturally, it’s important to review a company’s portfolio before contracting with them. And it goes without saying that you should closely review the contract to ensure it aligns with your needs and doesn’t include any shady fine print. Lastly, pay close attention to response times and communication styles since this will be an integral part of your relationship with the company.

Looking to Outsource Your Next Marketing Campaign?

If you’re considering outsourcing your marketing efforts, we’d love to discuss how we can help you achieve your goals. We’ve helped brands of all different sorts and sizes launch successful outdoor media campaigns.

With no-cost graphic design services and exceptional customer service, we’re here to help ensure that your campaign is both convenient and effective. Fill out our brief form to get in touch with an Account Manager quickly.