Building an in-house agency is not much different that starting a company. An entrepreneurial mindset goes a long way toward pulling it off in a reasonable amount of time.
It’s doable yet, like starting a company, there’s a lot to think about and many hats to wear especially in the beginning.
Understanding the effort required is a big part of whether you’ll build a successful in-house agency. It’ll require diligence and sweat equity to get started, particularly if you’re building an in-house team from scratch.
Below are 7 tips to keep in mind as you’re getting started:
- Building an in-house agency is not about building an in-house agency. It’s about creating value for the business with a clear pathway to innovation that becomes a selling point and competitive advantage.
- You can’t create value without implementing a sound, insights and data-driven strategy. Taking the extra time required to instill strategy comes before execution may be tough fight until others see the results and feel the positive impact. Seek early, small wins and keep them coming.
- A Center of Excellence can be achieved by delivering on the most important and critical needs of the business first. If your in-house agency starts delivering real, tangible value, other cross-functional teams, business units or brand managers will want what you’re delivering. Natural laws of attraction come into play like a magnet.
- Prioritization is challenging yet critical with limited resources, and resources are always limited. It’s not what other people want or can get from marketing, it’s what marketing can deliver that is most necessary for the business to grow and succeed in the marketplace. Instilling an agile mindset where the team finishes projects before starting others is an ideal you may need to teach depending on the agility level of your team and the rest of the organization for which you will serve.
- Saying “no” is never welcomed by teams requesting help – use it judiciously. Saying “not yet” suggests we’ll be able to do it as capabilities and resources increase to best serve the business’s key initiatives. Don’t be afraid to ask the CMO or CEO to double down as soon as you achieve early successes and whenever your team hits key milestones.
- Digital dexterity is a must-have requirement of team members and leaders who serve others as modern marketers. Progressing toward it should be a goal of everyone involved.
- In most organizations, building an in-house agency is a change leadership initiative. It may not be considered as such but the switch from briefing agencies to being fully accountable for the strategy and execution (and thought process) to solve the most pressing business and market challenges is a definite change. People can no longer pass the baton, or the blame, to agencies.
In a Smarter with Gartner article, analyst Chris Ross was quoted as saying, “marketers are tired of writing blank checks and are looking for more tangible exchange of value.” Requestors expect tangible value no matter if it’s delivered from an in-house agency or outsourced.
In the same article which is titled “5 Ways to Optimize Your Marketing Agency Mix,” Ross also lists several organizational design criteria that will help you to bring more strategy development in house and build the right model for your organization.