In-house agencies, moving marketing operations internally are expanding their capabilities— and there's plenty of good reasons why. A survey of 400 marketers released by Gartner last month found that 29% of work previously handled by agencies has moved in-house in the past year. What's causing this rise of in-house creative services? Read on to find out.
In-House Teams Improve Marketing Agility
In November, I had the opportunity to attend the IHAF Conference & Awards: Resilience to Reinvention and learned a lot from some amazing in-house agency professionals. Not only did I get to learn more about the value associated with moving marketing operations in-house, such as faster turn-around times and leveraging internal talent of those who are fully immersed in the brand; my biggest takeaway was from the inspiring stories I heard of how in-house teams were able to remain nimble and resilient, throughout the uncertainty of the pandemic.
The pandemic had a number of effects on corporations everywhere. Reduced headcount, slashed marketing budgets, and fundamentally altered workflows were just a few of the challenges along the way. However, according to a study by Harvard Business Review from December 2020, despite the common hurdles businesses everywhere were facing, the pandemic actually ended up widening the corporate productivity gap in ways businesses have never seen before.
Source: In-House Agency Forum
In a report from the In-House Agency Forum, 77% reported they've experienced an increase in the number of projects executed, as a result of the pandemic. Corporations everywhere had to go back to the drawing board and for many brands, come up with a completely new marketing strategy. In such a short amount of time, these in-house teams had to come together to rapidly redefine their messaging and value propositions to keep up with what was quickly becoming a new normal.
The Need for Speed
The pandemic caused businesses to pivot in a number ways. They needed to be able to adjust to the rapidly changing environment and speed-to-market became a critical role in successfully doing so.
Immediate turnaround was required for changes to planned events and for brand messaging to be sensitive to pandemic. There was also a need for entirely new creative with more time-relevant offerings. The last-minute nature of many of these changes ran into serious hurdles whenever external agencies were involved in the response, as their turnaround times are often measured in days, when the business needed response in hours—or less. By contrast, in-house marketing teams have found that they've been able to cut out the tedious back and forth with partners, significantly avoiding delay in creative.
Operating as an in-house marketing agency model allowed these businesses to take action and keep up with the current trends in a way that seems to be more in synch with the newly emerging post-pandemic work. In short, in-house is in style—in a very big way.
The Need for Flexibility
Now more than ever, marketing teams need the ability to bend and respond. Especially during the pandemic, with new protocols and updates every day, marketers needed to be able to respond to these changes.
Changing rules required in-house teams to be able to version different creative to comply with CDC standards and any unpredicted changes in original marketing plans.
In response to the pandemic, there was also a massive shift to digital marketing. Organizations with in-house creative operations were able to to adapt and keep with current marketing trends in a timely fashion. Companies were able to take action on maximizing their marketing efforts through the most effective means at just the right moment, such as webinars and virtual events.
Source: In-House Agency Forum
This ability to remain flexible to keep up with current trends gave companies with an in-house agency a competitive edge.
Doing More With Less
It's no surprise that as a result of the pandemic, businesses everywhere were looking to reduce costs, in a number of ways.
How did these businesses remain resilient in the face of unwanted budget cuts and reduced employee headcount?
You guessed it.
More was brought in-house to help manage enterprise costs. With reduced budgets, organizations relied more on their internal team and did less work with outside agencies. One speaker at the IHAF event even shared that they were able to dramatically slash production costs by 90% by shifting in-house.
In efforts to manage costs for the enterprise, in-house agency models either newly took shape or became vital for organizations who were no strangers to the idea of in-housing. For 55% of ANA respondents, their in-house agency has been the most important partner in these difficult times.
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