Outsourcing vs. Insourcing: How to Develop an Effective Marketing Team

by Josh Nadeau

You’ve put in the time. Developed a product or service from the ground up, produced a stunning website, maybe even invested in some great people and software to get your business on track. But now it’s time for your brand to really start to move the needle, and you’ve got an important question to answer.

How do you start developing a truly effective marketing team?

While this question may be an intimidating one to answer for any business owner, you should take comfort in knowing that the challenge of developing an effective marketing team and the actionable strategy to go along with it is a rite of passage for every successful brand. The good news is there is more than one way to achieve this goal, and the most challenging part is deciding which path you should walk.

So, where should you start?

The great dilemma: Outsourcing vs. insourcing

One of the more considerable challenges a business faces once it begins to scale is deciding where and how to invest in its continued success. The simplest solution for managing growth for many organizations is bringing in additional employees to help support both the business’s short- and long-term goals. This is especially the case when taking steps to develop a sustainable marketing plan for the company.

However, for many organizations, the simplicity of deciding when to hire new employees is met with a modern-day dilemma: Should you outsource or insource your teams?

The truth is, there really is no right or wrong way to answer this question—it entirely depends on the needs of the business and what makes the most sense from a logistics standpoint. However, when considering the impact (good or bad) that a marketing team has on your business’ future success, it’s vital to make the right choices when deciding how it gets structured.

But before we rush into identifying the pros and cons of insourcing or outsourcing your marketing team, it’s essential to understand what makes up a successful marketing approach.

The “not so secret” ingredients of marketing success

Regardless of how you choose to structure your marketing team, developing a recipe for success depends on your ability to implement certain key ingredients that make up a strong marketing foundation. These include:

  • Research your market: Customers are the lifeblood of your business. Who are they? Where are they? What are their needs? All of these questions need answers, and great marketing leadership will help you get them.
  • Know the competition: Beating the competition is more than knowing how to provide a better product or service. There is a lot to learn about how and where your competitors engage with customers, and gaining that market share requires diligent research and analysis.
  • Build brand awareness: Regardless of how great your product or service is, it won’t matter if your customers can’t find it. However, while the importance of building brand awareness is irrefutable to most business owners, understanding how to drive campaigns successfully requires relevant marketing experience.
  • Establish credibility: Lack of brand trust can mean a quick end to your scalability. Building credibility through multiple social media outlets, advertising networks, the company blog, etc. goes a long way in ensuring your customers feel comfortable doing business with you.
  • Stay consistent: The importance of remaining consistent across all of your digital marketing efforts cannot be stressed enough. Whether building quarterly campaigns, generating and distributing quality content, or building new lead magnets and tracking their performance, lack of activity in any of these areas will inevitably lead to a lack of profitability.

So, now that you know some of the primary goals you should be focusing on when establishing a strong marketing foundation, let’s have a look at your options when selecting the right team.

Insourcing: The pros and cons

Hiring an internal team for most marketing-related activities is often the first step for many organizations. But why is this?

Most businesses find that insourcing helps to create a more collaborative environment—one that promotes creative thinking and brand synergy. 

And it’s true, building and maintaining a fully-in-house marketing team can offer a slew of benefits, especially when constructing that “recipe of success” we talked about previously. Hiring internal team members can provide: 

  • Dedicated commitment to the brand’s needs 
  • High levels of accessibility and consistency
  • More adaptability as the business changes
  • Increased accountability as teams work in-house and under the direct supervision of the company.

However, insourcing a marketing team doesn’t come without its challenges—each of them requiring careful consideration from a growing business.

Addressing the elephant in the room first, internal marketing teams are expensive and for a good reason. Digital marketing in today’s business landscape requires some pretty unique skillsets, many of which take years to develop. When first budgeting and establishing a marketing presence, businesses can quickly become overwhelmed by the long-term spending required to employ a fully-in-house marketing team.

The uniqueness of many of the roles within a marketing department can also make it difficult for business owners to hire and manage the “right” level of talent. A fully-in-house marketing team structure can be quite broad, with individual roles being assigned to market research, content generation, brand awareness, social engagement—the list goes on.

What each of these pain points has in common is that they can quickly shift the business’ focus away from developing better products and services. This is something that needs to be carefully considered.

Outsourcing: The pros and cons

First off, let’s clear the air of a preconceived notion surrounding the idea of outsourcing. 

Deciding on whether or not to “outsource” individual or all aspects of your marketing efforts isn’t dependent on your ability to work with “freelancers.” 

Many businesses have horror stories associated with developing freelance contracts only to see a lack of engagement, execution, and consistency. The reality is that outsourcing your marketing efforts to an organization that provides a productized marketing solution can offer much more sustainable benefits for the business as a whole. 

Some of the benefits associated with outsourcing all-in-one teams are:

  • Significant savings on employment costs
  • Access to a much larger talent pool of marketing experts
  • Better ROI and more measurable results
  • Improved productivity levels in other critical areas of the business
  • Consistency

Of course, much like insourcing a fully-in-house team, outsourcing can also come with its own set of challenges.

Depending on how you format your outsourcing initiative, managing independent external hires can quickly become a nightmare when not taking the right approach. It’s not uncommon for businesses to struggle when having disconnected team members who don’t understand the business’s needs and lack consistent brand messaging.

There is also the time and effort it takes to find the right “team” of outsourced professionals. Trying to find and manage multiple independents while ensuring they stay on task, and more importantly, on the same page can often lead to failure. This makes it imperative that you find a team that truly understands your brand’s vision and can help you execute it efficiently and effectively.

The solution: Play to your business strengths

Effective Marketing Team
Image Source: Pixabay

Now that you understand both the pros and cons associated with insourcing and outsourcing a marketing team, which option should you choose?

Many organizations’ answer is to deploy a hybrid solution for their marketing efforts that allows them to play to their business strengths. What does this involve?

Most businesses have someone in their organization that plays a vital role in communicating both the brand’s short- and long-term goals. Maybe that’s a marketing manager, branding specialist, or even the business owner themselves. But rather than hiring in-house for every component of their marketing execution strategy, or even worse, doing it all themselves, outsourcing tasks to a productized marketing company can provide long-lasting benefits.

By using a productized marketing solution, organizations gain immediate access to a unified team of marketing strategists, writers, editors, social media professionals, and other critical marketing positions, all working towards a common goal: brand sustainability and scale.

While paving a road to success in today’s business landscape isn’t without its challenges, developing an effective marketing team shouldn’t hold you back from getting it done. 

By making the right choices on where and how you outsource, you can establish a strong foundation for marketing success while allowing you to focus on what’s most important: your customers and their high expectations of your products and services.