Demystifying In-housing 

In-housing is everywhere and apparently, everyone is doing it. It has been the industry media column-filler of 2019 and is likely to remain so in 2020. The reality is, some are doing it, but not all successfully. In this article, we look to dig a bit deeper into what in-housing can actually mean and how you can approach it in your organisation.

Leo McIntosh

The reason in-housing is such good page-filler is that it transforms traditional marketing resource models, leading to seismic shifts in how we all work and operate.

It’s easy to see why companies are making the move, the benefits to in-housing are widely touted to include:

  • Greater control – greater agility when responding to business direction,
  • Cost savings – removing agency cost,
  • Transparency – view what is actually happening with advertising spend,
  • Compliance – more robust and simpler solution to compliance,
  • Integration – media channels run by people who know the brand the best.

In the midst of all this noise around in-housing, it is easy to take a binary view of what in-housing is, i.e. “I do everything myself”. For some marketers, this definition can be an intimidating prospect. A project so large and requiring too much resource to even warrant consideration. Whilst others, embrace this black and white definition, embarking on a journey of zero external influence.

The reality is that in-housing is a more fluid concept, one which works along a spectrum.  In-housing is defined as: “to bring functions or services into your organisation’s capabilities”, which makes no mention of total self-sufficiency, nor the exclusion of all external partners.

Where we see marketers in-housing successfully several trends pervade:

  • A short and long term roadmap of the functions and services they intend to in-house,
  • Continued engagement with external agencies and consultancies for support,
  • Being clear on the reasons for in-housing,
  • Breaking the process out into specific initiatives to be completed at different timeframes (rather than doing everything at once).

At DQ&A we support marketers by helping them to identify the functions they should consider in-housing. By defining clear functions at the planning stage, it is easier to track progress and measure the impact of the transition. Here are some of the functions that brands consider when in-housing:

1. People

When bringing capabilities in-house, you need to ensure that the teams can handle new responsibilities. “What skills does my team already have? What skills are they capable of acquiring? What new skills do I need to bring on board?”

Consider your specific status – you may need to train some members of staff on a new platform, or you may need to hire a new team completely. Review your situation first before proceeding with anything drastic.

DQ&A has experience across all of these areas. We have sat in interviews to consult on the recruitment process, supplied resources to teams to help with their outputs, and lead on team training. For our clients, this training and people support continues beyond the hiring process. Learning never stops in our industry and people naturally change jobs.

2. Technology

In a world where we strive to deliver truly customer-centric marketing campaigns, all of your technology platforms need to talk to each other. If other parties are holding technology being used in your marketing campaigns, then you are not using all available insights.

If you own the adtech and martech platforms directly, you will be able to ensure that all of your digital marketing strategies are aligned. External parties will still be able to work off your technology and you will have complete visibility of the technology costs giving you peace of mind. You may just want to onboard one technology now, and hold off on another platform until later. Do what fits your business.

3. Data

One topic on everyone’s minds is the ownership of data. The data that comes out of your marketing campaigns is extremely valuable, so if your campaigns are being run by external parties, then it can be a real tug of war to get access to your own data and insights.

Make sure you own the data by owning the campaigns and access restrictions. Own the technology in-house, and ensure your campaign insights can feed into your own data warehouse, for future analysis by your business intelligence, for documentation in your CRM, and for application in your future campaigns. If the data is held elsewhere and your data workflow is interrupted, then you will be missing valuable insights that could inform your campaign strategy and improve its effectiveness.

4. Strategy

Although you may have relied on external parties for input into your marketing strategy, there are numerous benefits to in-housing how you strategise.

Your external contacts may be eager to sell you products & services that do not have your goals in mind. If you need to shift your strategic direction, having the flexibility to adapt internally without worrying about contracts you may be tied into helps your organisation hit targets quicker.

Ensure that you own the strategic overview because no-one knows your brand better than you. Of course, impartial experts can still feed ideas into short to mid-term strategy – but your core strategic focus should come from within.

Where to start?

By understanding what is out there and how in-housing can be as wide-reaching or specific as you like, you can put together an approach that works for you. With our wide range of services and solid frameworks, we can help you identify the best approach.

From the correct technology to use, the best partners to work with, the right time to hire and an ever-supportive soundboard for strategy we are there to help.

Contact your local Incubeta team to find out more.

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