in-house vs agency marketing

At some point in the evolution of a business or organization, every executive team struggles with the dilemma: Should we hire internal talent or outsource our digital marketing to an agency?

Easy answer – Unless you are a Fortune 500 company, you should ALWAYS do both.

No, this isn’t a cop-out answer! Hear me out on this. As a founder of a digital marketing agency, I’m obviously biased and favor hiring an agency; however, I always encourage Ironistic clients to hire internal talent as well.

In a Perfect World

First, let’s step back and break down what every company should have in a perfect world.

  1. Marketing Manager/Director/CMO – This is the person that sets the vision for the company’s marketing efforts – strategy, measurable goals, big-picture tactics. This person determines the overall brand penetration strategy and lead generation tactics.
  2. Content Creator – Every marketing campaign requires content, and this includes more than just copy. Content means text, images, interactive elements, white papers, email copy, infographics, reports, blogs, social media copy, contests and more. Even simple search engine ads require compelling copy and visuals, and someone has to create all of that material.
  3. SEO and Data Analysts – The beauty of digital marketing is that nearly EVERYTHING can, and should, be measured. For this, you need a true data geek. Someone to do the keyword research and then constantly analyze and optimize your SEO efforts to improve your identified metrics. Without this, even your most genius marketing campaigns will fall flat.
  4. Social Media Guru – This person works hand in hand with your content folks to represent your organization across the various social channels. This goes far beyond simply scheduling posts in Hootsuite, SproutSocial, or AgroPulse. No, this person has to actually engage, on YOUR behalf, with identified goals and strategies in mind.

Of course, the team can certainly consist of more positions – CRO expert, growth hackers, affiliate managers, etc. – however, the above positions are the absolute essentials.

Hire or Outsource?

As a sole proprietor or small business, oftentimes the owner of the company fills all of these roles. As a company/organization evolves, the owner discovers that he/she cannot possibly stay on top of everything. This brings us back to the previously mentioned dilemma: Hire or outsource? The answer is BOTH.

Ironistic is incredible at digital marketing services. We build strategies. We generate content. We’ve mastered SEO and data analysis. We’ve run some amazing social media campaigns. And we’ve got a full team of designers and developers to build out killer interactive elements. But our most successful projects always involve marketing assistance from the client’s staff. Even a small in-house team can be incredibly impactful because they hear all of the internal activities and announcements that an outside agency may never know. The ideal scenario includes:

  • Internal Marketing Lead (think big picture CMO level person)
  • Internal Marketing Assistant (think junior level, tactical person)
  • Ironistic Marketing Team (everything in between)

Our Digital Strategists work with the client marketing lead (oftentimes the company founder/CEO) to determine the overall strategy.

  • What goals are we trying to achieve?
  • Who are we trying to reach?
  • What level of engagement are we seeking?
  • What measurable results are we targeting?

With these questions answered, we can then work with the Ironistic team and the internal marketing assistant to execute tactics across the board. The internal person should work with us on the details of each campaign. For example:

  • Finalizing content copy
  • Helping segment email lists
  • Responding to everyday social engagements
  • Following up internally on marketing converting to sales
  • Notifying Ironistic team members of internal activities and announcements
  • Coordinating with other 3rd party efforts (ex. PR firms)

Together, we can create marketing and editorial calendars that, when executed properly, can have incredible results.

Collaborate and Adapt

We also recognize that our involvement with our clients will evolve as they become more successful, as they grow, and as their internal resources change. For example, we’ve had scenarios where the successful marketing efforts resulted in our client hiring additional internal staff to take on more and more of the marketing responsibilities. In this situation, our role with the client diminished. We’ve experienced other situations where client staff quits unexpectedly, requiring a short-term, heavier Ironistic involvement.

We understand that businesses evolve, and we evolve with them. At the end of the day, the primary focus must always be the success of the marketing efforts, and our experience shows that the most successful campaigns always involve both internal resources and outsourced expertise.