Articles

The In-House Marketing Agency

As marketing budgets tighten, there’s increasing interest in establishing in-house marketing agencies. Capable of increasing sales while lowering costs, this division provides the perfect home for services such as strategy, market research, design and fulfillment. It pays for itself by minimizing the need for outside vendors and eliminating media commissions.

In-house agencies root out inefficiencies and find hidden talents among printers and other suppliers. They eliminate media placement fees and delete the middleman’s markup when dealing with creatives. And they bring corporate strategizing to a new level of insight and efficiency.

In-house agencies are also more secure than outside organizations because their employees work for YOU! This means the agency is looking at every opportunity to improve your bottom line; not just the ones that benefit them too.

LONG-TERM BENEFITS

Like a marketing department, an in-house marketing agency offers the parent corporation significant opportunities to pursue a consistent, coordinated marketing strategy satisfying the parent corporation’s basic marketing needs. It can even be used to service at least some of the marketing needs of other corporate subsidiaries.

However, unlike a traditional marketing department, an in-house marketing agency also provides these abilities:

  • It can create a marriage between your corporation and another, unrelated business – perhaps a buyer of your firm’s other products or services;
  • It can open the door to business acquisition for all your divisions from other prospective client companies; and
  • It can be publicly positioned as a totally independent operation – even though it is at least partially owned by your firm.

GETTING STARTED

Many smaller firms shy away from an in-house agency, believing their marketing expenditures aren’t significant enough to justify the work and/or expense involved in establishing and maintaining such an operation. This misconception makes them leave money on the table at every stage of their research, marketing and sales process.

Since 1989 we’ve helped firms as small as $1.5 million (in sales) build in-house agencies. In every case they’ve raised revenues and lowered the cost per sale – often significantly.

Each of these organizations started off dedicating itself to squeezing everything possible from their sales and marketing budgets in the most productive and cost-efficient way. Corporate management had to be open to the possibility that things might be done a little differently in the future. This was followed by a willingness to re-assess the current corporate structure, decision-making, staff and purchasing methodologies. Finally came the commitment of budget, time, space and resources to making this idea a reality.

YOUR INFRASTRUCTURE

This whole process can easily take six months to put into place. For example, your corporate structure should have a separate division geared towards marketing and related services (research, printing, etc.). Establishing a firewall between marketing and the rest of the business provides:

  • The means to demand agency commissions from media, lowering advertising costs by 15%.
  • Credibility when dealing with printers, illustrators, and mailing list houses.
  • An opportunity to pre-pay development costs, helping protect corporate revenues from outside influences.

Your agency’s director is critical to the division’s success, since he (or she) will need all the strengths you’re looking for in your agency. In one person you’ll be looking for a:

  • Strategist
  • Creative Director
  • Negotiator
  • Product Manager
  • Researcher
  • Production Specialist

This is a rare combination, though not impossible to find. Such individuals can be found via executive networking groups; the Monster Board (www.monster.com); guru.com (www.guru.com); or through executive recruiters specializing in sales and marketing professionals. It’s true you’ll pay a little more for someone with such diverse skills, but financial returns will start almost from Day One.

Usually working alone for the first six months (or with an assistant if the workload justifies it), the director becomes your one-person marketing agency, supplemented by freelance help. His support and space needs will be minimal, though he will need a direct line to corporate management and the flexibility to come and go as he needs without punching a time clock. As the company grows, the director may be complemented by a creative director, production manager, and/or account manager. Each of these positions can usually be filled in the same manner as the director’s position.

NEXT STEPS

Determining that the in-house agency is the right course for your business is the first step on a long, satisfying, journey. With little downside, the agency offers any business a phenomenal opportunity to expand prospecting, security and new profit centers while lowering risk and expense. And short of bringing in an outsider to either set up such an operation for you or to act as your in-house agency (which eliminates the ramp-up time), there is no better way of growing your business and your prospects with a minimum of expense and hassle.

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