How do you know when you need more than your internal team to successfully execute your marketing strategy? Are you being asked to take on projects that extend beyond the skills and talents of your team? Are you feeling completely overwhelmed and always playing catch-up with your to-dos? Is your internal team churning out less and less inspiring work because the daily grind leaves no time for creative thought? 

The question of whether or not to keep projects in-house versus outsource them has always been around, although there has been an increase in marketers pulling tasks in-house over the last few years. This trend has been driven by pressure to do more with a smaller budget and blurred lines between marketing and corporate communication (social media content vs. customer support, for example).

When brands bring capabilities in-house, they quickly realize that they can’t be the best at everything unless they commit to hiring many people and paying top dollar for the experts across creative, analytics, strategy, technology, and research. But in some cases it does make sense to in-house tasks and capabilities. Here are five questions to consider when you’re deciding whether to outsource or keep work in-house.

  1. Does the project require skills that extend beyond the talents of your team? 
  2. Do you need a permanent, on-site, internal hire to manage, analyze, and advocate for customer data?
  3. Are you working with a very lean staff? 
  4. Does the project have a large, strategically important impact on your business?
  5. Do you have a tight timeline?

Let’s tackle each of these individually.

Does the project require skills that extend beyond the talents of your team?

Consider outsourcing. 

Hired experts specialize in the unique skills that you need. If you’re going to do it on your own with an in-house team, be aware that it can be difficult to find, hire, and retain talented people who will keep you on top of best practices and cutting-edge technologies. When you partner with an agency, you hire the right team for the job, gaining access to design, marketing, and technology experts in one fell swoop. You’ll get instant access to know-how and expertise that might not be available within your company. 

[Related: How we created a new brand for Catalina Labs]

Do you need a permanent, on-site, internal hire to manage, analyze, and advocate for customer data?

Consider in-housing. 

Pulling work in-house makes sense if you’re trying to better understand your customer journeys, get more transparency into your data, and stay on top of which campaigns are performing well. Today’s focus is about connecting the dots across data, technology, and the various internal departments at a brand. Having someone in-house to stay on top of the heartbeat of your business by being the expert at where customer data flows, how it is used, and how it is stored makes a lot of sense.

Are you working with a very lean staff?

Consider outsourcing. 

Enhance your small team with outsourced help. Building out an entire in-house team would require a large investment in training and specialization, creating additional spend and using resources and time. Most likely there are caps on the number of internal hires you can bring onto your team, which is why your team is already working at full capacity. And it can be very difficult to attract and retain the type of talent in-house that you need for your project to succeed. A new study shows that attracting top-tier talent and keeping existing talent energized are the top two issues that in-house agencies struggle with.

[Related: How we built Nespresso a successful Father’s Day campaign]



Words of Wisdom

“I don’t know of one in-housing operation that could survive without an [external] agency. Not even Netflix.”

– Belinda J. Smith, Global head of media at Electronic Arts


Does the project have a large, strategically important impact on your business?

Consider in-housing. 

Critical operational roles are very difficult to outsource successfully. Some tasks that you need handled are strategically important to the business, but don’t greatly impact operational performance— these areas can be outsourced safely to a trusted partner. But tasks that are strategically important AND have a big impact on operational performance should be retained in-house, so you can keep maximum control over them.

Do you have a tight timeline?

Consider outsourcing. 

Although this can vary by company or by project, in general it is much faster to get a project completed if you tap an outside agency for help. External partners can complete projects quickly that would never get finished by your internal team if they had to compete with other higher priority projects. Your outside strategic partner can focus entirely on your outsourced projects, bringing in additional resources as needed, because they are shielded from the day-to-day work of your company. 

[Related: How we helped IBM integrate Tealeaf into its customer experience platform]


That’s it! And don’t forget that SocioFabrica can become an extension of your in-house team when you partner with us. Our design, technical, and marketing expertise can fill in the gaps and enhance the skills of your internal team. We’ve won tons of awards for our work with brands ranging from IBM to Nespresso to Red Bull. Want to find out how we can help you? Get in touch.