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By Andy Hammerton
There are various motives to in-housing. Control, cost, transparency and performance. All are valid but they’re not all necessarily comfortable bedfellows.
Marketing at scale is colourful and complex so the options to move more or less under your own roof are almost endless
Under the broad label of ‘in-housing’ you can dip a toe in or dive into the deep end but make sure you can swim properly if you decide on the latter
Everywhere you look you hear news that advertisers are increasingly doing more themselves.
Depending on who you are talking to there are various motives to in-housing. Control, cost, transparency and performance are often mentioned. All are valid but they’re not all necessarily comfortable bedfellows.
Do you want to save money or do it better?
In a perfect world finance, procurement and marketing will look into the future and commit to a joint strategy which, primarily, is going drive the best possible marketing performance. There will be a manageable amount of risk and there’s likely to be a really significant lump of cash saved as you go. Everybody is happy.
It rarely works like that though does it.
Short term change to save money is something which is relatively black and white – cut resource, renegotiate a contract, change supplier or spend less. That’s a slightly crude description but things start to get far greyer when you consider in-housing scenarios where a compromise on output is likely to be a false economy especially as you move up the supply chain.
Under the broad label of ‘in-housing’ you can dip a toe in or dive into the deep end – needless to say you want to be sure you can swim properly if you decide on the latter. Marketing at scale is colourful and complex so the options to move more or less under your own roof are almost endless and will vary in nearly all scenarios.
As you decide to spoon more and more of the temping In-housing buffet onto your plate it becomes increasingly important that the money saving aspect is a welcome consequence as opposed to the driving force. The more you pick up the more complex the task becomes with a tapestry of elements which all have to be right. Serious compromise is inevitable if the focus stays lasered onto cost saving as the primary driver.
It’s a space that operates at pace, with concrete deadlines and very real consequences – be it media slots or campaign performance amongst other things. As you move further up the supply chain, you find that your slice of the accountability pie is suddenly supersized and it’s imperative that you have the skills, process, technology, experience and leadership to fly.
If you’re putting these elements in retrospectively it probably means a wheel has come loose. Or worse flown off.
Creating a great culture, where creative excellence, innovation, efficiency and control all exist in harmony takes time. Potentially a lot of it. It’s the same when it comes to building relationships, reputations and delivering consistently brilliant results.
This isn’t supposed to be a warning
The benefits of going in-house are very real and those potential prizes get bigger the further you go. It’s no coincidence that so many big brands are taking more control and doing more themselves as getting it right can be game changing. Share a roof with your customers day in day out, live the brand, integrate into the business, deliver truly coherent multi-channel, multi-platform campaigns, save money, personalise content with greater access to customer data, control the process and retain your best talent.
My point is more about the importance of working out your motives early. This is a journey which has a much better chance of going smoothly if the end destination doesn’t suddenly change en route.
Having the right infrastructure to underpin and manage your operation is essential. Whether you’re talking about briefing, deployment, measurement, technology, workflow, HR tools and office space. Cutting any corners here is a false economy.
There may be new suppliers, new costs (some expected some maybe not!), new technology challenges, complex legal considerations (especially if you end up bringing staff into the business from existing partners) and exit strategies to manage.
You’ll need marketing partners to come on the journey with you and that’s a tough ask if the role and identity of your in house support is unclear.
It’s smart to approach your in-housing plan with a cross-functional team right from the word go. Get procurement involved from day one, be transparent with finance, seek advice from the right legal support before you start, agree where you would sit (physically and within an organisation), secure the right technology expertise. I’d even go as far as proactively preparing a PR position on what will be coming.
Having a solid business case is obviously key to get the ball rolling – you won’t go anywhere without it. There’ll be a load of people and parties you’ll need to get on board so be prepared to win over some hearts and minds. That might be convincing people to do something different or selling the project to the talent you’ll need to find to make it all work.
So, the clearer everyone is on the end goal, the better your chances of success. If you create the right conditions for change, you can tell it as a story and hopefully avoid too many nasty surprises along the way.
About the author
Andy Hammerton spent 4 years playing a leading role in-housing Sky’s direct response marketing activity. Starting with the deployment process and moving incrementally up the supply chain through production and into creative, an entirely new in house agency was created called SkyWorks part of Sky Creative, Sky’s in-house advertising and creative agency, one of the largest in-house agencies in the world. Andy Hammerton now works with Openreach on people strategy and transformation, Andy specialises in people centered change.
The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Marketing Procurement iQ or imply endorsement from the publisher.