Many brands have established in-house agencies and continue to produce more work in-house. In Gartner’s 2019 Marketing Operational Survey*, 63% of respondents shifted some work from external agencies to internal marketing services in the last 12 months. Why? Because an in-house agency helps them achieve greater control and lessen third-party dependence.
What are the main reasons why brand marketers prefer to work with internal marketing? They work with their in-house agency so that they can be more responsive to business and marketing needs, and deliver higher business value.
But taking work in-house doesn’t mean your in-house agency has to do everything in-house and not outsource. It means that the requests come to the central in-house team, and then you can decide how best to deliver.
Key Challenges for the In-House Agency
Based on conversations with Gartner clients and a recent webinar poll, a few of the biggest challenges and concerns internal marketing teams face are how to:
- handle the burgeoning volume of incoming requests
- prioritize those requests based on what’s most important and valuable to the business
- manage and allocate resources, mainly talent, to quickly and consistently deliver value to the business.
For example, some in-house agencies do most of their creative work in-house. Chobani has been reported to outsource 10% of their creative work and Liberty Mutual has been reported to outsource 20%. But even Chobani’s Chief Creative Officer (CCO) says there is always a need to engage external agencies.
“Having an in-house agency is not right for every company,” he said. “Not every company has either the resources or the draw to pull the caliber of talent that they want. There’s always going to be a need for incredible agencies out there.” – Leland Maschmeyer, Chobani’s CCO as quoted in Adweek.
Even these in-house agencies understand the value of partnering with external agencies for creative, overflow or other projects. Above all, most in-house agencies have a marketing work management platform to help manage and prioritize the requests, and to help them become more effective.
Staff to Match the Workload
In-house agency staffing is a perennial issue. Marketing leaders implement options such as:
- a contractor model using staffing firms such as Aquent, Creative Circle or The Boss Group
- additional freelance help using Credo, Textbroker or Upwork
- an agency supplemental staffing model.
Oliver is one agency with a simple concept to “build a dedicated ‘in-the-client-house’ agency team.” Other external agencies including Accenture Interactive, Deloitte Digital, Filter, MightyHive (programmatic), MRM//McCann, Ogilvy and Wunderman can provide supplemental or project overflow onsite or remote staffing.
Optimizing the Workload
As in-house agencies become more sophisticated, they must optimize their operations. Gaining efficient, streamlined processes is important but to what end? Not only do in-house agency leaders want to better manage the requests, they want more time for strategy, creativity and innovation.
In-house agencies often become too task-based. Do you have to open a project for every piece of content produced? Sometimes marketing organizations prove their value by the number of tasks or projects but more is not better.
Fewer tasks and projects required to produce the same or more work frees up people’s time and allows them time to work on strategy. Below are a few questions to help you streamline and gain efficiency through optimization:
- How can you batch frequent, fast-turnaround requests for each month under one project?
- What request types bog down the team, and can you find a different way to work that better solves the problem?
- What requests can be easily outsourced such as preliminary research to provide insights for a project? Or content versioning?
- How can you streamline approvals by keeping all related campaign content together in one project vs. multiple?
- How can you reduce the number of tasks within a project template down to the essential steps? Which steps in the process can be automated?
If just 10% of each person’s time is freed up, that time savings can equal full-time equivalent staff members depending on the size of your in-house agency. This “free” time can be reapplied to value creation projects which people find more rewarding, and for which add more value to the organization.
Partnerships are Invaluable
In-house agencies that invest in martech, agency or other managed service partnerships reap the value. It may require implementation time yet investing in those relationships will help you deliver more value to your internal clients and provide long-term sustainability for your in-house agency.
Gartner Resources for Further Reading
Marketing Overload Requires Effective Work Management (on-demand webinar and downloadable PDF – free with easy registration)
Marketing Ops: When Everyone is Responsible, No One Is (public blog post)
In-House Agencies Best Serve Internal Clients by Assembling the Right Technology and Partners (Gartner for Marketing Leaders seat required)
Marketing Work Management: How to Control Chaos, Streamline Workflow and Gain Efficiency (Gartner for Marketing Leaders seat required)
*Marketing Organizational Survey 2019: Marketers Aspire for Agility and Control but Fight Operational Challenges (Gartner for Marketing Leaders seat required)