In-housing vs. agency. Do you have to choose?
For brands, developing in-house marketing efforts is a huge trend right now. (Perhaps you are thinking about doing this or have already put together an in-house team to create, manage and deliver your ad content). Fact is, this is a natural reaction to a booming economy. With additional cash flow comes the urge to staff up under the guise of greater cost efficiencies, insider knowledge of your brand, and more control.
But along with that comes a natural urge to walk away, at least in part, from long-time trusted partners who have handled many facets of your branding and marketing for years. Is this the best move?
The case for a new model.
Here’s some great news for brands and agencies alike: The concepts of in-housing and working with an agency don’t have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, a very strong case can be made for a middle ground that benefits all parties—and if executed correctly, it has the potential to elevate marketing efforts in a new and powerful way. The key? Treat your agency not as an outside partner, but rather an extension of your internal team.
Cooperate, collaborate, communicate.
Let’s talk integration. These days, brands often have either one full service agency or multiple ones, each handling a facet of their marketing: Creative, Public Relations, Digital, Media, etc. Rather than taking all of these functions in-house (with potentially detrimental consequences), change your working model to create an extremely tight working relationship with your agency partners. Be in touch constantly, daily—you are no longer different teams, you are now one big one.
- Include an agency representative in your regular in-house meetings, status overviews, brainstorms, etc.
- Communicate annual plans with your agency as well as your in-house staff. This way, the two can work together to help move the company forward
- Urge and encourage collaboration across agency partnerships. Think of your agency partners as arms on the same body…the left should know what the right is working on (and vice versa). Get everyone marching to the beat of one drum and reap the benefits of operating a well-oiled strategic machine.
- Delegate! In-house team members should be encouraged to identify projects and tasks that might benefit from the use of your agency partners. Efficiencies with their schedules mean efficiencies with your department.
Bottom line: Get on the same page and stay there.
Neither group should ever be working in a vacuum. For this model to succeed, you truly have to become a TEAM OF ONE. If you can do this with your agency seamlessly, you’ll know you’ve found the right partner.