Season 3, Episode 4
The power of an outsourced team vs. an individual

Jun 12, 2023

What is the best method for building a strong marketing team? Should you outsource a team? Should you hire an in-house individual? What are the pros and cons of each? If you’re asking yourself these questions as a business owner, today’s episode will bring some valuable insight.

What is the best method for building a strong marketing team? Should you outsource a team? Should you hire an in-house individual? What are the pros and cons of each? If you’re asking yourself these questions as a business owner, today’s episode will bring some valuable insight.

Tune in to today’s episode of Marketing Matters to hear Lina and Sarah explain the pros and cons of both outsourced marketing and in-house marketing. When making this decision, it’s important to consider your budget, flexibility, time constraints, and how much control you want to have over your marketing. 

Highlights:

  • When is it worth it to hire an in-house marketing employee?
  • What are your priorities and main objectives in marketing?
  • How flexible are you with desired marketing project timelines?
  • Is marketing a core competency for your business?

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Marketing Matters is brought to you by ADV Marketing  

00;00;00;00 – 00;00;37;25
Intro:
Hi there. We’re ADV Marketing, a marketing agency that develops high-quality and cost-effective marketing materials. Our relationship-driven business model and customized marketing solutions makes us the perfect partner for small businesses looking to grow. I’m your host, Lina Rice. Join Sarah and me here on Marketing Matters every other Monday to discuss business-to-business marketing topics. Now let’s get into the episode.
 
00;00;37;25 – 00;00;58;05
Lina:
Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of Marketing Matters, the podcast where we talk all things marketing and how it relates to your business. So, Sarah, we have kind of a fun topic today. We’ve talked about this a little bit here and there on different episodes, but then we’re going to kind of dive in to help business owners and executives and all of those kinds of people decide whether or not they should go with an outsourced team versus an individual.
 
Sarah:
Yes. And there are benefits, there’s pros and cons of both.
 
Lina:
Totally.
 
Sarah:
And even like a mixed situation ca be beneficial for certain types of situations.
 
Lina:
I completely agree.
 
Sarah:
But I am excited to talk about it because it’s a common question.
 
Lina:
It is a common question. We actually get it from our clients all the time, they’re like, “Should I hire someone in-house? Should I like… what does that mean with working for you all going forward?” So that’s going to be something that we’re going to kind of break down. Obviously, to a degree, we have some bias because of the situation that we’re in. But we will be as honest as we think we can be because really there are pros and cons and we’re going to break down them both for both.
 
Sarah:
And ultimately, we want what is ever best for the client and their situation.
 
00;01;50;01 – 00;02;13;13
Lina:
Exactly.
 
Sarah:
Because the wrong situation will always be harder to execute than the right situation. So, we always look at it from that perspective.
 
Lina:
Definitely true. Okay. So let’s start with outsourcing, because it’s our bread and butter. It’s what we know best. So, there are a couple of benefits to both that I want to break down. So first, it’s cost effective most of the time. Most of the time is a key point. So today when we’re having this discussion, we are strictly comparing an outsource team to hiring one in-house individual, like starting your own marketing team in-house. It’s very different if you are Apple, Google, ExxonMobil, who has a 100-person marketing team and outsources for like Super Bowl ads and specialty things, that is a completely different scenario that I don’t even think I have the expertise to touch on because it’s so complex.
 
Sarah:
But it’s interesting to bring up because that outsource versus in-house question doesn’t go away as you scale.
 
00;02;49;17 – 00;03;09;25
Lina:
It doesn’t, no, because what ends up happening is you outsource for specialty projects, for example, Super Bowl ads. Those are not done in-house. 99% of the time I can guarantee you they’re not done in-house.
 
Sarah:
Yes. And it just depends on what they need, because sometimes the third-party perspective is really nice. So, like companies will have agency of records.
 
00;03;09;25 – 00;03;29;13
Lina:
Yes.
 
Sarah:
And then work with them on campaigns and things like that.
 
Lina:
Exactly. Even research, sometimes they’ll hire agencies strictly to do third party research to kind of come back and say, okay, here’s where you’re currently at, here’s where you want to be, here’s where you think you’re at. So that’s a whole other thing.
 
Sarah:
This got me on a tangent thinking, so I’m going to bring this up real fast. We should just talk about the benefits of outsourcing in general and like why anyone would outsource anything. So, what we have learned, and in my experience has been true, is that outsourcing works if you are outsourcing non-core competencies.
 
Lina:
Correct.
 
Sarah:
So, the thing that drives value in your business, you want to keep in-house. The stuff that you outsource in that you can really see efficiency from outsourcing is the stuff that’s not in your core wheelhouse. So for the companies that we work with where like engineering firms or midstream companies in general, marketing is not a core competency. It’s not the value really. It’s part of creating value, but it is not core. So outsourcing marketing makes a lot of sense because they can see a lot of cost savings and efficiency out of that, just like you could probably outsource IT in a lot of situations because it’s not core, it’s just important for your overall functioning of a business and supporting everything that is core.
 
Lina:
Yeah, some companies will even outsource, you know, their accounting, legal, anything like that. That works because that’s not what, obviously accounting is a little bit more important when it comes to things like taxes. But at the end of the day, you got to start somewhere.
 
Sarah:
Yeah, exactly.
 
Lina:
Okay. So, the second benefit to an outsourcing team is it’s very easy to scale up or down depending on how your business is doing. So, if you have just a horrible quarter, you can always scale back. You don’t have to lay anybody off. If you have a fantastic quarter and you need to ramp up your marketing, that’s very easy to do. You don’t have to worry about going out and getting more resources and taking that time to hire and find someone. It’s very easy to just say, “Hey, I want to up my, you know, plan” or “Hey, we need to scale back a little bit” and that’s super easy to do.
 
Sarah:
Yeah, you can ramp up and down quickly and utilize our assets in our situation really quickly so we can pull in the assets we have in videography, photography, graphic design, really quickly, if your needs expand in that way.
 
Lina:
Right, exactly.
 
Sarah:
And then you can easily drop them off if you don’t need them anymore. So, you don’t necessarily have to invest in a ton of skill sets upfront and then figure out how to use that. You can customize your plan accordingly.
 
Lina:
Precisely. And then he goes on to our second one, which is just we have a more diverse set of skills and experiences because it’s a team and not an individual. So, it’s just kind of a natural thing that you’re going to do. And then kind of back to serious point that she was talking about at the beginning, you free up those in-house efforts that you can be putting towards what your business is actually good at and actually makes you money. So that’s important. But there are plenty of benefits to having an in-house marketer. So for starters, you have a full-time commitment. That’s just not something you’re going to get from outsourcing, because at the end of the day, they’re going to have more clients. So, while they might treat you like their only client, hopefully you are not their only client, because there’s some red flags there, but you will have that full time commitment. And because of that full time commitment, they will have a deeper understanding of your business than in outsource team because there will always be a knowledge transfer that has to happen between an outsource team and your in-house people. So having someone always in-house will always have a deeper understanding because they’re constantly there in the weeds, seeing that.
 
Sarah:
Yeah.
 
00;07;05;01 – 00;07;27;02
Lina:
And then also they’ll be able to build a deeper relationship with your team members. So, something that we try really hard to do, but to an extent will always be a challenge is we try to build relationships with the other employees that we don’t necessarily work with day to day on their marketing because they can be great resources for technical content, articles, case studies. But at the end of the day, we won’t have a relationship that we would have if we were in their office every single day.
 
Sarah:
Yeah.
 
Lina:
It is just different. The next thing is you have immediate access to them. This one I kind of went back and forth on because you should have close to immediate access with your agency.
 
00;07;45;07 – 00;08;07;01
Sarah:
Yeah.
 
Lina:
If you don’t, red flag.
 
Sarah:
Yeah.
 
Lina:
They should be very easy to get a hold of. But you can’t just walk into their office. So there is that difference in that degree. So that’s why it’s still on here. But take that what you will.
 
Sarah:
Yeah. You can have responsiveness on both sides.
 
Lina:
Correct.
 
Sarah:
It’s a different form of response.
 
Lina:
It is.
 
Sarah:
I would say, and a different form of involvement.
 
Lina:
Yes.
 
Sarah:
But you can still have both like equal benefits on both sides.
 
Lina:
Exactly. And then the last one that I have on here is you do have total marketing control. So when you have a third party, they’re always going to give their third-party perspective, an opinion and expertise, which is great That’s what you’re paying for. That’s what you want. But it can be, if you’re the type of company… I’m trying to think of the best way to put this… that wants to be hyper involved,
 
Sarah:
Which is fine.
 
Lina:
Which is completely okay. There are scenarios for that where that needs to happen.
 
Lina:
Or if you have special projects. Like that’s something that you might want like 100% full-time effort on so in-house would totally make sense and would be right for that project. And if you have a recurring series of special projects, perfect to have in-house and then you would have direct control over that and direct involvement. But at the same time, not everyone has time for that direct involvement or even wants to be that involved. And so I guess a con for in-house would be you do have to be more involved because it is part of like the management aspect of marketing. So it is a balance and really ultimately, as we always say, always goes back to your objectives and your needs as a business.
 
Lina:
So, what we have found is a nice little sweet spot for our style of clients who are kind of the small-to-medium sized business, which is having an in-house marketing manager who can oversee kind of your day-to-day marketing needs. You know, if you have like a last-minute thing that you need done, you need to order business cards, you need, you know, just small things, but that also can work directly with us to kind of oversee our work and make sure that it falls in line with your core business and just everything is aligned and matching up perfectly. That kind of seems to be the sweet spot for a lot of companies who are kind of looking for the best of both worlds. And so that’s what we often recommend to them, is if you are going to hire, start with that marketing manager who can manage your third-party agency, but then also can do some things for you and has that skill set to be able to do a couple of things for you and be that direct access.
 
Sarah:
In that in-house marketer can be the advocate for your business’s objectives and marketing access at all times so they can protect where you’re going, your goals, where you want to be at the end of the year, at three years, and they can make sure that everything’s on track, which is a full-time job in itself., just the project management aspect of marketing, because anyone who does marketing or dabbles in it or even content creation realizes how time consuming it is, especially for like good production quality content, which we’re all about. Like that’s the value that comes out of content marketing is having good, good quality marketing content so that takes time. And if you have an in-house manager who can provide the, what are the things on bowling lanes that come up like the little…
 
Lina:
Oh, the little bumpers.
 
Sarah:
Yeah, the little bumpers for like your marketing and just make sure it’s guiding in the right direction, that your agency has all the materials that it means really great marketing and can work with directly with the agent for strategy development for you, figuring out where your consumers are, figuring out what research means. You have all that stuff. It provides a really direct line of communication and collaboration between the client and our client and then their marketing.
 
Lina:
Yeah. No, but it’s completely true. So, kind of looking at our experience and what we’ve seen in the past, most of the time, if you can only pick one, outsourcing is going to be more effective for our B2B small to medium sized clients, which most of them, when they start out with us, can only afford one. So that typically tends to be the most cost and time effective. Kind of going back to all the reasons that we listed earlier, but like we said, if you can afford both, a marketing manager is a great place to start when it comes to an in-house person.
 
Sarah:
Yeah, it really just depends on your objectives, what you want to see out of your marketing, your end goals. You can even work with an outside agency and get a third-party perspective and then figure out where you need to go from there.
 
Lina:
Which is true.
 
Sarah:
Like we, in addition to helping with content creation and execution, we help a lot with business decision making or marketing decision making I should say, and for what you should do with marketing. And if you want to start with some like consultation about what to do, then we can be that voice as well if you want to start with outsource and you don’t have to invest in the long-term commitment of hiring full time, right, which is big for especially smaller businesses.
 
Lina:
It really is because things go wrong.
 
Sarah:
I mean, and it’s really hard to find people right now. The labor market is insane. We could do an entire podcast on that.
 
00;13;19;00 – 00;13;45;20
Lina:
We could. So, okay, let’s talk about some core things you should consider when you’re deciding kind of which one. And this really just goes back to everything that we talked about, but we’re going to break it into kind of five key things. So first is your budget. You know, do you have the budget for an in-house person who can do it “all,” which I say in quotes, because not one person can do everything, there’s going to be a limit to everyone.
 
00;13;45;20 – 00;14;06;16
Sarah:
They’re going to have specialties, their gonna have strengths and weaknesses, like every employee. Yeah, I mean, just like everyone knows the benefits of a team is combining strengths and weaknesses, so you augment each other and supplement where you need.
 
Lina:
And then, you know, flexibility. How flexible do you want your marketing to be if you need to ramp up or down? How quickly do you want that to happen? Because if you have an in-house person or you don’t and you’re trying to get one, that takes time. Hiring takes a good amount of time. And then likewise, if you needed to scale back and you had to lay people off, that also takes time. So, it’s just how flexible do you want it to be? And then expertise. Like Sarah said, everyone has a specialty. How diverse of specialties are you looking for? Because if you just need someone to do one thing, great, you can hire someone in-house and likely you can find someone who can do that one thing really well and then do a couple other things. But if you want a few really good things, you might be better off with a team. And then time constraints, kind of going back to how quickly do you want things to happen. Agencies can move a lot faster because they have a team. An in-house person only has the 40 hours in a week, as where an agency can kind of work more than 40 because they have multiple people on your case. And then how much control do you want to have over your marketing? Like Sarah said, you can have specialty projects that need really dedicated in-house support.
 
Sarah:
Which would be a great fit for hiring an in-house manager for those projects.
 
Lina:
Exactly. So, it really just depends on those factors. We are always available to break that down and help you figure out what’s exactly best for you. We’ve done that for a lot of our clients. It’s a very normal conversation that we’re very used to. Funny enough, I think a lot of people would probably have the perception that like, you wouldn’t ask that because they’re going to be like, “Oh no, you should stick with us.”
 
Sarah:
But like, no, it’s a common question.
 
Lina:
We definitely have. Yeah, it happens. I think with every single client.
 
Sarah:
Yeah. And it’s just because like outsourcing requires its own project needs. So there is that need as well. And in this case that we’re talking about is purely for like if you have to decide between going with an agency or hiring an in-house person and that is a very specific situation. Other situations include, okay, you know, you want to outsource like videography and photography, but you also kind of have in-house needs, so like, who do you hire? What job descriptions do you need? How will they work together? That’s another situation.
 
Lina:
There is a ton.
 
Sarah:
And then maybe you already have like a sales/marketing manager who does sales and marketing. So then how does their job description fit in with an outsource agency? So there’s like, we’re talking about one situation.
 
00;16;32;21 – 00;17;01;09
Lina:
This is kind of the starting point that most of our clients come to us in.
 
Sarah:
It’s a hypothetical to kind of understand the decision-making process, and then you can apply those key things and those key factors in different situations.
 
Lina:
Exactly.
 
Sarah:
And then I will say this is my, because you usually ask me for my one takeaway, so this is my core takeaway.
 
Lina:
Yes, I was about to ask.
 
Sarah:
Ask yourself, “Is marketing a core competency for my business?”
 
00;17;01;14 – 00;17;25;14
Lina:
Yeah, and it definitely can be for your B2B.
 
Sarah:
Yes, it can be. Like if that’s something that you differentiate yourself off of is having a very specific kind of marketing program or marketing outreach efforts, then that could be a core competency. But if it’s not, outsourcing could be the right solution for you. But if it is a core competency, then you want to keep it in-house. That’s generally the rule of thumb, very simplified.
 
Lina:
And we have met B2B companies that have in-house teams because it really is a core competency of theirs. So it can happen and it does happen. That’s really interesting.
 
Sarah:
Yeah. You have to have a good understanding of where your value in differentiation is as a company.
 
Lina:
Exactly. Well, this was a great episode. I think we really broke it down really well. We have a couple more we’re going to get into, so that’s going to be super fun. So be sure to subscribe, rate the podcast and we will see you in two weeks. Bye!
 
Sarah:
Bye!

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