In-house gets it done cheaper, faster

These days, just about everyone working in the PR, marketing or creative services field is looking for information to help show the value of their work — especially when talk turns to outsourcing and budget reductions. If you happen to be part of an in-house PR, marketing or creative services team, then you might want to make note of this little nugget I picked up from an American Marketing Association webinar from a few years ago:

In-house PR, marketing and creative services staff are more efficient than outside agencies, according to information presented during this webinar by Aquent.

As the chart below illustrates, in-house services can get the work done at 40 percent of the cost of a typical agency, and in one-third the time. (Click on the image to enlarge it.)

Click image for full size
Click image for full size

Of course, this is only one data point, from one source. But it’s a third party resource that may come in handy when talk turns to outsourcing work as a cost-cutting measure.

I’m not writing this to slam consultants. Consultants provide valuable services to our colleges and universities. But these days, we need to consider the value and expertise our in-house people bring to our marketing operations.

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

12 thoughts on “In-house gets it done cheaper, faster”

  1. I think this makes complete sense – when you work with in-house staff, they are focused on only you, your wants, needs and processes. I think consultants are great for projects where you don’t have in-house expertise and can’t get a full-time position approved. The problem, of course, is that once a person is hired in-house, it seems like they are no longer trusted!

  2. Thanks, Karlyn, for your observations. I agree that consultants are great for the purposes you mention. It’s a shame when organizational leaders don’t feel they can’t trust their in-house staff. Those should be an entity’s best consultants.

  3. I’m an internal creative staffer, and I want to believe you, and I fight to keep things in-house, but let me play devil’s advocate here.

    One positive thing about agencies is that they can bring a needed outside perspective. Too often, internal staff are so buried in the organizational mindset that the stuff they create doesn’t speak well to an external audience. Internal staffers usually have other responsibilities to juggle as well, preventing the measure of focus that’s required to do great work.

  4. In addition to doing it cheaper and faster, in-house staff often times do better work than agencies. Another benefit is that the in-house staff gains the knowledge and new abilities that come with doing multiple projects, which they can use to help other departments within the university, rather than paying an agency to gain this know how only to use it for another client or competitor. In the long run, investing in your in-house staff pays off.

  5. Drew – Devil’s Advocates are always welcome here. Notice I said that “In-house PR, marketing and creative services staff are more efficient than outside agencies,” and I was speaking in terms of time and money. But that doesn’t necessarily mean in-house staff are more effective.

    But let me also play the Devil’s Advocate for a moment. You point out, correctly, that “Internal staffers usually have other responsibilities to juggle as well, preventing the measure of focus that’s required to do great work.” Don’t consultants face the same challenges? They have many clients to juggle, many projects to manage. It’s all a balancing act. But outside agencies can sometimes be more daring and get away with more than internal staffers. It all depends on the people — in-house and/or in the agency.

  6. “In-house gets it done cheaper, faster”

    Yeah, I’m cheap and fast!!! I’m the Dodge Neon SRT-4 of the marketing world! WTF? This does absolutely nothing for my ego. Better, smarter… those are the words I need to stroke me. :)

    Sticking to the car analogy…

    In-house = purchasing a vehicle: maintenance (salary+benefits), they age, must be replaced eventually, some become part of the family, some are lemons, eventually leak oil…

    Outside agencies = leasing a vehicle: new car smell, maintenance is covered, relationship is given an ending date, …

    sidenote: I drive a ’99 Jeep that I purchased in the fall of ’98, before the Jeep, I drove a ’79 Ford (gifted from my Grandma in ’90)… in-house FTW!

  7. Rob – I agree than in-house staffers do bring valuable institutional knowledge to an organization.

    Todd – Nice car analogy. I didn’t mean to imply that you were cheap and fast, but thanks for owning up to it yourself. ;)

  8. Slow and expensive is the optimum scenario. The sweet spot. It gives everybody time to have meetings about meetings, form subcommittees, and engage in email attacks. It’s not so much the final product, but that everybody feels like they were heard. Success!

  9. Efficient? There is a reason why higher ed marketing is so unsophisticated, and often a top area of overspending for universities. In-house marketing efforts often hemmorage money because dollars are managed so inefficiently.

    In house people are cheap now, due to the economy, which is a plus, and can have benefits given their 100% focus. This sometimes keeps them insultated from competitive activity, myopic to advancements and trends, and impervious to new ideas. Maybe the best solution is in-house brand managers, with outsourced strategy in high-cost areas such as media buying.

    Finally, Aquent’s survey has a vested interest: they are an employment site, which should encourage higher ed to hire more employees rather than outsource – regardless of what is really more “efficient” – for their bottom line.

  10. I’m the Web Services Manager at a 2 year college. We have two web producers and some graphic artists. I think some of the senior leadership may think that it be quicker to get the job done by using consultants, and it very well may. But it definitely won’t be cheaper. Thanks for the post.

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