In or out? Brexit isn’t the only dilemma!

Over the past few years we’ve seen a marked return to in-housing when it comes to organisations’ Marketing departments.

When the decision has been made to decrease, or indeed completely cease, seeking the services of outside agencies it’s often difficult to discover how it all panned out, so here at RDZ PR we were very interested to read a report on that very subject, carried out earlier this month by the Data & Marketing Association (DMA) in conjunction with Mailjet.

Firstly, let’s consider the reasons that companies would choose to bring their Marketing functions in-house.  These can be varied and can be quite specific to any business’ size, age, market etcetera but the most commonly expressed ones tend to be;

  1. Cost saving
  2. Closer control
  3. Increased productivity
  4. Greater consistency
  5. Improved creativity
  6. Faster decision making

One main area of the report from DMA and Mailjet focussed on the answers of the respondents when asked ‘What are the key benefits your organisation expected to achieve’ and then matched this against ‘Benefits actually achieved’.  Whilst some areas showed close figures for the two measurements, in every single case the achievements were at least a few percentage points below the expectations; in the case of ‘Increasing Productivity’ the gap was as much as 15%.

Despite these disappointing results for the companies surveyed, less than 10% overall considered moving back to out-sourcing which shows that the in-house trend is here to stay and perhaps even set to grow.  Whilst you may think that businesses like ours who undertake this work on behalf of others might obviously have an issue with them doing it themselves, we’re not alone in having doubts about the outcome being a wholly positive one.  The most commonly voiced concerns regarding in-housing are;

  • The removal of outside perspective
  • Process confusion in terms of who is doing what
  • The temptation to continuously move deadlines back
  • Having no-one actually questioning rationale


No doubt at least some of the above points played their individual parts in the launch of the now infamous Pepsi Kendall Jenner campaign of 2017, a campaign born and developed by the Pepsi team themselves with near-disastrous consequences (in brand marketing terms at least).

Ill thought out campaigns aside, the biggest challenge facing those who want to replace outsourcing with in-housing are limited budget and the adoption of new technologies.  The first of these hurdles may at first seem to be a little counter intuitive – after all, isn’t the whole point of the exercise to save the cost associated with hiring outside providers?  However, as is the case with most organisational changes, there is an initial pain barrier to overcome; the development of a new team has set up costs and these will usually far exceed any on-going savings for a significant payback period.

The adoption of new technologies issue is perhaps even less obvious to most.  If tech is not your main business area then the chances are that your knowledge is not up there with those for whom it is.  Technology blind spots can make the financially relevant difference between success and failure – or at the very least make the overall marketing challenge, well, a bit more challenging!

At RDZ PR we understand and support the fact that many organisations want to build and utilise their own Marketing functions, but we also recognise the reality that it is seldom a straight-forward case of in-housing vs outsourcing.  Often we see that there is a good mix of both – a Marketing blend – and this is surely the best way to achieve the objectives whilst ensuring the very best outcomes.

Indeed, when you sit back and think about how things are generally approached in the PR world – where the external PR agency is perhaps guiding and recording the hard work of the client’s business and then presenting it to a target audience – you find a healthy mix of two teams working seamlessly together for the benefit of both.

According to the DMA / Mailjet report, only 1 in 12 companies are currently adopting a mixed strategy and this is the area where we believe the greatest change will happen.  With improved internal processes, the adoption of the right tools and the realisation of in-house limitations in some key areas, the future of Marketing (in our opinion) is one where organisations readily recognise their own knowledge gaps and address them by turning to subject specialists.

If you would like to read the DMA/ Mailjet report in full you can find it at

If you would like to complement your own in-house capabilities with an agency who welcome collaboration, then get in touch with Rachel via

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Rachel Hargrave

Rachel has over 30 years of local, regional, national and international communications experience and expertise across a wide variety of clients including FTSE 100 companies, SMEs, micro businesses and start-ups. She also has extensive charity, Not-For-Profit and Community Interest Company experience and happily offers clients working in these areas a 50% discount on all RDZ PR rates.

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