Balance Your Insource and Outsource Marketing Talent Mix

September 21, 2016
Contributor: Chris Pemberton

7 questions every marketer should ask about whether to hire in-house or outsource.

With the expanded scope, scale and speed of business, marketing leaders are under immense pressure to deliver results and make the most of all resources. Often this leads to questions around whether certain functions should be developed in-house or completed through outside partners.  

“More than 50% of marketers say they currently rely heavily on agencies and external marketing partners for strategy and/or execution.”

Video is becoming a workhorse marketing medium. As video viewership grows across mobile and social channels (i.e., Facebook, YouTube), marketers need to create engaging videos to layer in among existing content as a cornerstone of advertising and consumer engagement. Do you use an in-house production team, leverage your agency of record or search for a boutique video agency? 

The underlying question goes beyond just video. How do you organize and resource to capitalize on important content, media and marketing opportunities?

“As a marketing leader, you must build an organization capable of supporting a rapidly evolving set of requirements.” noted Christopher Ross, research director for Gartner for Marketers. “To balance developing in-house capabilities against partnering with external providers, you should answer seven vital questions to identify a sensible approach.”

More than 50% of marketers say they currently rely heavily on agencies and external marketing partners for strategy and/or execution, according to the Gartner 2016 Marketing Organizational Design and Strategy Survey. Ideally, however, two-thirds of those marketers say they would like to reduce that dependence and build more in-house capability. After balancing agency use, next validate the benefits that you obtain from agencies, which are typically valued for their breadth, quality and reliability.

Read More: Energize Your Marketing Org Chart

The Seven Critical Questions

Determine whether or not to retain in-house talent or outsource capabilities to an agency by asking seven key questions:

  1. Essential Marketing DNA — Does the capability or resource support a proprietary marketing skill or potential differentiator, or provide a distinct competitive advantage?
  2. Person or Function — Is the desire to support the capability or resource primarily driven by the desire for a human resource who can be used in multiple dimensions, or is the need primarily functional?
  3. Recruitment and Retention Commitment — Is the organization committed to providing sufficient budget and other resources for the recruitment, compensation and retention of talent?
  4. Fit With Existing Organization — Would the addition of a capability or resource be perceived as complementary and additive to existing resources within the wider organization?
  5. Elasticity — What are the desired speed and flexibility for the resource to be activated, scaled, reduced or discontinued?
  6. Business Continuity — Would frequent turnover or erratic support of this capability create meaningful disruption or negative impact on the business?
  7. Consider Cost as Part of Total Decision —How do the real costs compare? Cost must always be considered as part of the insource/outsource decision but there isn’t always a clear connection between cost and whether you should outsource or insource. Cost isn’t always a deciding factor when business needs outweigh the expense.

“Invest in top-notch in-house talent to build capabilities that have the potential to drive differentiation or to create significant competitive advantage,” said Mr. Ross. “Rely on external partners to fill intermittent or unpredictable needs or to bridge gaps in niche skills.”

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“I use Gartner to bolster my confidence in decision making.”

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