Are in-house marketing departments taking over?

Ladderby Tony Fannin, CEO/Partner, BE Branded  |

There is a trend emerging among marketers, both large and small, which effects anyone who provides marketing, web and design services (including us). Many companies are building up their in-house design, digital and marketing capabilities. This includes designers, writers, web masters and even media buy. In general, I understand some of the advantages, it can save money (but at a hidden cost), quicker turnaround and the idea of “who knows your business better than you?” All are appealing and logical benefits.

So, are there any disadvantages or do ad agencies, design shops and digital shops need to “make up” something to keep relevant? Here are my viewpoints:

• This is nothing new – If you’ve been in the marketing field as long as I have, this is nothing new. In the late 80’s through the 90’s, many companies had robust in-house design and marketing capabilities. Then, in the 2000’s, many dissolved their departments to cut costs and find more efficiencies. Now it’s swinging back again.

• Attracting talent – There are a number of good talent who would be willing to work in-house. Most are competent and have talent, but, in my opinion, the “super star” talent isn’t attracted to working in-house. Many feel it limiting to only work for one client, yourself. Highly-creative ad people like the  challenge of industry variety.

• In-bred thinking – One dangers of keeping creative in-house is what I call “in-bred thinking”. I find being able to draw from one sector and put it into a totally different context is the basis of innovation and creativity. This develops new thinking and new approaches within different industries. If creatives work too long in a single field, I find they eventually lose the ability to develop creative and innovative campaigns because they  don’t get a chance to work in other industries, learn what is going on in the wider world and discover a thread of connection on human behaviors they can draw upon to import into other arenas.

I find many great ad creatives are able to look at marketing situations differently and that comes from having a wide variety of experiences, stimulus and interest. It’s like an individual who doesn’t get out very much. They eventually quit growing and learning because their life experiences are very narrow.

What this trend is also doing is providing a wake up call for all creative services providers, even web tech companies. We need to realize, the “stuff” we do, is commodity (design, writing, code, etc.) That is why many companies are able to bring these functions in-house. We need to refine our true value of what we bring to the table that a $40,000-a-year staffer can’t or does’t, have time to provide. This forces us, in a good way, to work ourselves higher on the value chain.

To me, creativity and being able to see what’s next are two things that can’t be automated or easily done by just anyone. This is our real value. Being able to execute is very important, but I find, many in-house departments are set up very well to do this. The point is, anyone in business, needs to work their way up the value chain or become irrelevant. That’s just nature. And that is the core of what branding is about.

www.bebranded.net
317-797-7226

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About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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