Overcoming the Challenges of Going In House

You might think that standing up an in-house agency would be an exciting moment for any brand. It signals the evolution of marketing and the migration of new talent and capabilities. An invigorated group comes to the table from diverse backgrounds with fresh perspectives and disruptive ways of thinking.

Sometimes, this notion is fully embraced and has the support it needs to get off the ground and become an integral part of the marketing ecosystem. And sometimes the reality is very different.

Many organizations simply don't do the pre-work. They rush to get an internal capability up and running to meet cost-efficiency targets. They lack clarity regarding the team’s mission, compromising on key talent and hiring while attempting to do better work faster but, in the end, doing lesser work slower. Fun times.

The result is that the in-house agency is rejected by the rest of the organization early on and struggles to gain the momentum and advocacy they need. It doesn't help that there are likely plenty of detractors from day one: external providers threatened by the potential loss of work, corporate marketing teams perceiving a loss of financial or creative control, and groups resistant to changing processes in general. The list goes on and, soon enough, the in-house agency becomes the dumping ground for whatever comes their way.

If the in-house team is not integrated structurally or aligned with broader business objectives, it will be difficult for them to demonstrate value within the company. Without a leader who has a shared voice with other groups or the necessary support to build the competency, the in-house agency gets bullied into a cycle of unrealistic volume and timelines with an inability to maintain quality control (for which they will also be penalized).

So, as brands consider the pros and cons of insourcing, here are some important points to consider to stay relevant with the speed of change in the industry.

In-House 2.0 – Shift your primary focus from cost efficiency to delivering high-value expertise that can support and drive innovation for the business.

Creative Leadership – Hire leaders who can foster a culture of creativity. Creative talent is a rare breed and an invaluable asset to a company.

Embedding Approach – Develop a clear strategy, operations, and processes to integrate in-house teams into existing organizations.

Hybrid Support – Evolve a hybrid mix of support with in-house talent and external capabilities to address complex challenges.

Flexible Talent Pools–Quickly adjust to shifting market needs through diverse and flexible talent models.

When built correctly, an in-house agency can be an accelerator for the brand. And when it's not, the organization is likely to ultimately reject the new capability. Not the welcome party anyone was hoping for!

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