In-house vs. agency. Do you have to choose?

In-housing is hugely popular.

In-housing is hugely popular. But is it a bandwagon you should jump on?

More than 75% of US brands are taking elements of their marketing in-house.

Everyone loves a booming economy—it means strong business growth, which is always a good thing. But this time around, we are seeing an interesting new trend: Companies developing internal resources to create, manage and deliver ad content. Suddenly, they are no longer relying on long-time partners to handle the many facets of branding and marketing.

Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. Let’s break it down.

The benefits of in-housing

Believe it or not, there are a few. Truthfully, any decent-sized company needs some in-house capabilities. For many brands, the quickest and easiest way to gain efficiencies through in-housing is to take control of content, especially social media output. There’s an undeniable advantage to being on-site when it comes to fresh, relevant, timely content—particularly in industries such as food & beverage, hospitality, consumer services and more. In a world where every minute counts, eliminating the need for time-consuming agency briefing and execution is critical.

Additionally, for very large brands it is definitely advantageous to keep all internal communications and marketing in-house. You don’t need an agency to burn hours trying to win a Cannes Lion with your company newsletter or back-of-house poster. Brands can, and should, handle those types of things themselves. But for the vast majority of external-facing communications, call the pros.

But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

Far and away, the top two benefits brands cite for bringing things in-house are ‘better knowledge’ and ‘cost efficiencies.’ Hard to argue with those. However, the things an agency does bring to the table are powerful and must be taken into account. Here are some of the reasons why:

Quality of Work—In-house teams can be naturally inclined to continue with established ideas. Agencies are wired to constantly be coming up with fresh takes.
Obsession with Performance—There’s no substitute for people who are exceedingly passionate about what they do and motivated to bring their best work to the table for multiple projects every day.
Outside Expertise—Unlike in-house teams, an outside contractor will never be “too close” to a project and can continually offer an alternate perspective.
Easy Scalability—When working with an outside partner you have control over how much of the work to keep in-house. When the workload expands or contracts, you simply adjust accordingly; Problems with hiring and/or layoffs are a thing of the past.
Value for your Dollar—Hiring just one staffer can be an enormous annual expenditure, especially when you factor in payroll taxes, health insurance, etc. Imagine how far those same dollars could go toward the creation of a marketing initiative.

The moral of the story? Consider bringing certain functions in-house. But have an ongoing relationship with an agency or other outside partner to keep your brand strong, relevant, and always evolving.