In-House Marketing vs Agency. A question of resource and budget.

I’ve written before about The Pros and Cons of In-House Marketing vs Agency as having sat on both sides of the client/agency desk; I have a relatively clear picture of how the land lies. I don’t think it can be a question of either or (in-house marketing vs agency) but more a matter of where your budget is best spent. Here we look at practical considerations as well as our top tips to collaboration.

According to Payscale, a Senior Marketing Manager can earn up to £69,000 per annum, whereas the upper limit for a marketing coordinator is £28,000. Imagine how much work a full-service agency could do for that £41k per annum.

With years of specialist experience across multiple disciplines from writing optimised copy, creating eye-catching POS, SEO, Paid social advertising etc with an agency a budget of 5.5 days a month, (which is what the shortfall equates to in our world) would have a game-changing impact to a business looking to grow.

A generalist marketers work is never done. Literally.

Does this sound familiar?

  • Assign budgets
  • Coordinate your team & agency
  • Set KPIs
  • Review objectives
  • Provide full event support
  • Proofread collateral
  • Create a digital comms strategy
  • Ensure digital comms strategy is executed
  • Read digital comms reports and feedback
  • Manage social media
  • Create new print materials
  • Review website
  • Oversee website development
  • Brief marketing agencies for larger projects
  • Coordinate all promotional materials (often at short notice)

Taking this workload into account, how much time is there to up-skill or specialise? Yes, there’s the option of outsourcing here, but then are you, as a business, paying an overqualified coordinator?

Liz Pusey, a social media and comms specialist with over 14 years’ experience working in communications and PR, both in public sector organisations (police and NHS) and in agency says this about her time as a generalist marketer. “Having worked for many years as a generalist, it’s tough to do anything well! The idea of solid objectives and campaigns is often just a dream when faced with the day to day and competing priorities. “

When in-house works.

Any large scale business, will absolutely require (and can probably afford) a full marketing hierarchy from the director down. With teams of social media specialists, PR departments, events professionals etc. Here the need for outsourcing may well be limited to technical website development and campaign work. This way the business can ensure through their recruitment process that they have the right squad for the job and they build equity of knowledge in their teams and a brand loyalty second to none. Bravo.

SME’s and the bottom line. Outsourcing Goals.

If productivity is down and marketing measurement has gone out the window, your marketing personnel may well be overwhelmed or under-skilled. Unless they have time allocated to research and training this may well be the case as the world we are working in moves FAST.

Fresh eyes, boundless energy and accountability (we all want our invoices paid) could be just the tonic for your ailing marketing output. But how do you make the transition both practically and financially with minimum disruption?

A marketing marriage made in heaven.

Collaboration is not a dirty word. For us, as an agency working with an in-house marketer is a dream. Here are our tips for smooth sailing, because let’s face it new agency relationships can be tricky as hell.

Talk Talk. 

Agree how and when you will communicate up front. Be transparent. There is no hard and fast rule for what works here. For some clients, face to face meetings are. an absolute must, while other clients are happy with cloud contact using something as simple as a google doc spreadsheet or for others apps such as BaseCamp work a treat. We LOVE Monday, which allows us to schedule work, note customer contact, create tasks and workflows, all with the ability to share with our clients if they wish for total transparency. If face to face is essential, you can cut the commute and Co2 by making use of tools such as Zoom for quick catch ups


Set objectives up front.

Complete a brief up front and agree on a broad scope of work based on your business objectives; this will bring focus and will inform the budget. This step is vital in ensuring that both agency and in-house contact are on the same page. No one should be kept in the dark, no grey areas.

Be agile – rigid retainers are a thing of the past.

Being agile is more than just a buzzword; it’s a culture. Once objectives are laid out, combined with important dates for the business, peaks and troughs in trade etc. it is possible to plot a broad range of tactical activities. But, we all know that the best-laid plans can change, which is why regular catch ups, planning meetings and an agency that is always on their toes is essential to getting the most out of the relationship.

Time & task track.

For the above to work, time tracking against the agreed tasks is essential, if anything, so the agency remains accountable for their invoices. No more “we’re paying an agency, and we just don’t know what we were getting”.

Measurement with a captial M.

All activity should be measured against the agreed objectives, say NO to vanity metrics. As a client, you should be comfortable with questioning activity and making suggestions.

Data should be considered regularly to get the most out of tactical activities.- Reports should be in layman’s terms and regularly refer back to the objectives – this keeps everyone focused on the job in hand.
– Expect your agency to make recommendations, even if this differs from the initial project or enquiry. The goal should be to get the best results for the budget available; there’s never a one size fits all.

Working with an agency should be a joy and relief — not a drain on your time, budget and energy.


Book a call with one of our team today!