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Outsource vs in-house marketing agencies: which is best? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted by Veronica Wainstein on March 19, 2020 at 9:52 AM
Veronica Wainstein
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Will an outsourced or in-sourced marketing solution help your business hit its targets? We examine the competency, capacity, and costs of these two options.


When it comes to marketing, the in-house vs. outsourced debate can be tough. There are so many factors to consider, and at the end of the day, you want to make sure that you’ve made the right decision for your business.

Allison Lowrie, CMO of HomeAdvisor and Forbes contributor, identified three important factors, critical to the in-house vs outsourced decision-making process. As Allison wrote in Forbes magazine, “Whenever I’m faced with this challenge, I find myself turning to a framework I call the three Cs”. Allison always analyses the pros and cons of the company’s specific marketing objectives.

Allison’s three Cs when deciding whether to outsource or in-house your marketing efforts are:


  • Competency: What skill sets do I require to achieve my overall marketing goals?
  • Capacity: How many people, with these skill sets, do I require to achieve the level of productivity needed to achieve my marketing goals?
  • Cost: What budget do I have to work with, what is the overall cost to achieve my goals, and what return on investment (ROI) will I see?

With the three Cs in mind, we’ll look at the benefits of outsourced vs in-house marketing teams in more detail.



Veronica Wainstein, MD at Penquin, says “you have access to everyone from CEOs to designers in an outsourced model. It allows you to have a bigger team and they should be viewed as an extension of your business. The minute any party feels that the other person isn’t adding any value is when the relationship is no longer worthwhile.” Forbes Magazine agrees with her, “If you’re having trouble reaching the talent and the markets you’re targeting, you’ll likely benefit most from the help of outside experts with longstanding relationships in the field.” 

Your outsourced agency should be a step ahead of your business, and have the need to grow your business - not just focus on the bottom line. It’s also a bonus that outsourced marketing agencies have worked on lots of different accounts, and are up to date with trends in the industry. Chances are, they’ve worked on businesses like yours, so they’ll be able to execute the right strategy with less trial and error. Using outsourced marketing allows you to get access to a whole team of professional experts, rather than individuals trying to do everything themselves.

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Working with an in-house agency has its challenges as egos can be a major factor in the advertising industry. When it comes to in-house marketing, having an ego shouldn’t be a priority. 



“The likelihood of better turnaround time is higher with an in-house agency, but the quality could be compromised,” says Veronica. Once you’ve invested the time and money into building a team of in-house marketing experts, they’ll focus all their time and energy on your brand, as opposed to working on different jobs for different clients. However, an in-house agency is deeply entrenched in your business and is unable to provide a fresh pair of eyes from the consumer’s perspective. Using people already loyal to your brand means you don’t have someone playing devil’s advocate. Working with an outsourced agency, you’ll have a team of experts bringing diversity and new ideas to your marketing strategy.



According Veronica, “In a traditional type agency or full-service integrated agency, there are multiple departments with qualified skills for what they do and they are the best representation for their discipline.” These people have managed to craft their skills over the years. “It’s about honing your skills so you are the absolute best person at that. Once you fragment your skills, you become Jack-of-all-trades and master of none,” she says.

If your business requires a wide variety of skill sets, intermittently [e.g. you produce three videos, 10 radio adverts, 15 print adverts and 30 blog posts per year], then outsourcing your marketing will be more cost effective for your business. You won’t need to hire a team of full-time experts who may not have enough work daily, to justify their cost to the company.

It’s very important to build a team of specialised people, and this is a big investment for any company which far surpasses the cost of having a smaller team of “Jacks”. Just because you have honed your skills in something, doesn’t mean you don’t have an interest in or can’t do other things. Clients need to focus on their core business, and marketing and advertising aren’t necessarily core to their business. Having to develop an in-house team that isn’t core to your business is costly and labour intensive. The marketing itself could be more expensive because there’s no understanding of competitors, industry, and target markets that you would normally get from an outsourced agency. Outsourcing further allows you to pay one fee on a retainer basis for all the expertise that will help your business grow.

The pros and cons of outsourcing vs. an in-house marketing agency

Infographic showing pros and cons of outsourcing vs. in-house marketing agencies

What is the outcome?

You’ll need to decide which option will best suit your business needs and help you to achieve your business goals.

The Startup believes a hybrid strategy could be an alternative where a mixture of in-house and an outsourced agency is possible. “The main advantage of co-sourcing is that your company retains control over the marketing assets. Moreover, you have a greater capacity to be flexible in order to adapt to the business’s evolving marketing needs. However, it will be a challenge for the marketing manager to manage two separate teams.”

Ultimately, your need for an in-house marketing team will grow with the size of your business. Bob Ruffolo, CEO of Impact (a branding and design agency), explained on the Impact blog, “many companies have had great success working with agencies” who collaborate with their in-house marketing team. You may decide that your business could actually benefit from a combination of both.

If you feel that outsourcing your marketing could benefit your business, give us a call. Our dedicated team of marketing experts would love to help you with a marketing strategy that will achieve your business goals.


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Topics: Strategy

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