Marketing Agencies: In-house or Traditional?

April 20, 2017

For companies of all sizes, choosing the right marketing approach can make or break the business. Traditionally, many companies choose to put their trust in advertising agencies to help them create the perfect image. However, even agencies have been having trouble as of late due to fierce competition in the space from consultancies and martech providers. With so many available options, it’s important to note why ad agencies are so beneficial to businesses.

Put simply, traditional marketing agencies can be helpful because you’re essentially hiring a team of professional experts, who know all about online media, to get your name out there. Agencies employ talented individuals who know all about SEO, targeting audiences and other essential online strategies, ensuring that a business’ outreach is successful. When hiring an ad agency, the company simply needs to tell them what they need done and then set guidelines and deadlines regarding content. From there, the agency can run with those guidelines and creatively promote the brand.

                      Image via Bigstock

That last aspect is something some companies have trouble accepting, though. Certain businesses don’t want to turn the marketing reins over completely because it makes them feel like they have no say in how their brand is being represented. This is a valid concern, and it’s why so many companies have started in-house agencies.

In-house agencies are appealing because they save the company money—since they don’t have to pay an outside organization—and they allow the company to be fully involved in how the brand is being promoted. However, sometimes it’s bad for a company to be overly involved in its own marketing, because there are no outside opinions being observed. This is the problem Pepsi ran into with its controversial Kendall Jenner commercial. 

If Pepsi had used a traditional ad agency, or at least asked for some second opinions, it might have figured out early on that this commercial would be seen as offensive to thousands of people. However, Pepsi relies only on its in-house agency to develop marketing ideas, which effectively removes any opportunity for opposition. Needless to say, Pepsi’s in-house marketing team is now feeling the heat after this major lapse in judgment.

Not only is the in-house marketing team hurting at the moment, but the Pepsi brand as a whole is suffering. The average person isn’t thinking to themselves “Wow, I’m so angry with Pepsi’s in-house marketing team.” Instead, they’re angry with the brand as a whole. And that’s the exact opposite of what a company wants when it brings on a marketing team.

So how is a company supposed to choose between a traditional ad agency and an in-house marketing team? One appears to offer too little creative collaboration, and the other offers too much. According to Andy Kerns, content strategist at Digital Third Coast, in a recent blog post, creative control shouldn’t even be a consideration in the debate because any good agency will be collaborative with the brand. He also points out that an in-house brand might be best for a small or young business for cost reasons. Meanwhile, traditional agencies are useful for larger companies, like Pepsi, because they have a bigger audience and therefore need additional, expert opinions. Those experts will also come in handy in terms of beating out the competition which, again, is more relevant for larger companies.

All in all, companies shouldn’t be afraid of traditional ad agencies. They’re great resources that know how to promote companies without making mistakes that could potentially ruin a brand’s reputation. The bigger the company, the more important it is to have an ad agency in place that can bring an outside perspective to the marketing approach.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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