The rise of in-house agencies is certainly one of the biggest changes within the marketing world over the past few years. In-house teams are brought together usually to run digital marketing programmes, or design work, or social media.
The business case for an in-house agency is typically a mix of:
Focus & attention – no agency can know or care as much as we do about our business.
Greater agility – being always on they make businesses more responsive.
Managing the digital engine – having the core drivers of direct e-commerce owned and managed in-house.
Cost savings – shedding the cost of external agencies in favour of internal teams.
Because others are doing it – in-house teams are in vogue and seen as the modern way to go.
There are many companies that operate a mixed model of some in-house, supplemented by external specialists.
While some in-house agencies operate very effectively, there are some problems that are all too common.
Three big ones are:
Ready, fire, aim
This is when companies are looking for short-term wins, but end up delivering short-term whims that lack strategic purpose or cohesion. Having the means of production at hand can make it too tempting to execute before thinking it through.
The risk is inconsistency, a lack of relevance, confusion and a dilution of brand strength.
Cars with no petrol
This is when the creation of in-house capability is a mask for reducing the marketing budget. It can become an excuse for minimising marketing effort.
The risk is an erosion of brand health through underinvestment.
Drinking our own Kool-Aid
This is when companies limit their activity to only what they do in-house. An internal focus without debate and the stretch of strategic and creative interpretation can lead to companies limiting the scope and quality of what they do.
The risk is weak marketing and communications, resulting from limited strategic, creative or technical crafting.