How to Bring Your Brand Marketing In-House After Working with an Ad Agency

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You’ve been using an ad agency for years. It’s been a good partnership, but you’re not sure it’s necessary anymore. After all, you have a strong team in place. And you’re pretty sure your people have the mettle to tackle your marketing in-house. But where do you start?

Untethering from an ad agency can seem daunting, especially if you’ve been accustomed to outsourcing the responsibility. However, it can be a wise choice. After all, when you bring everything in-house, you can gain a couple of key advantages.

First is the potential for tremendous cost savings. Paying an agency to handle brand marketing and advertising can be expensive. Being able to better see where every penny goes can be appreciated, especially by executives.

Secondly, cutting out the so-called “middle man” can mean faster response times. Let’s say a campaign isn’t working. Having to notify an agency and figure out how to pivot can take days. If the campaign is monitored by employees, real-time tweaks are easier to make.

Finally, working solo brings all branding back to the company itself. Yes, your team will have to think up all the creatives. Yet if your people are up for the innovation challenge, you could wind up with stellar products and projects. Besides, you can always hire independent contractors as needed if you need specific artwork or designs.

Tips for moving brand marketing in-house

Do you like the idea of being in control of your marketing and advertising? Keep these best practices in mind after ending your agency contract.

1. Embrace the art of negotiation.

Until now, your ad agency has done all the bargaining for your ads and ad placements. When you move your advertising in-house, you’ll take on that responsibility. Consequently, you may want to brush up on your negotiating skills.

When Anidjar & Levine decided to bring their advertising in-house, founding partner Marc Anidjar used the basic premise of making deals to help with a successful transition. “The relationship must be a win-win. Both parties must understand that their success is tied to the others. As one party grows, so does the other,” he says.

You may have staff who negotiate for a living, such as procurement officers or salespeople. Ask for their advice on bargaining to help build your team members’ collective negotiating acumen. That way, you’ll know you’re always getting the best rates for your media buys.

2. Dust off your corporate branding.

Bringing back your marketing is a good excuse to refresh your corporate branding. After all, you’re starting so many things anew. Why not give your brand imaging a once-over in the process?

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to completely reinvent your corporate imagery. Still, you might want to put everything from your logo to your preferred language under the microscope. Case in point: Does a phrase seem out of place, especially after the world’s been through? Do you feel the need to return to your organization’s pre-pandemic tone?

During the heart of the 2020 pandemic, an Edelman survey asked consumers what they wanted from brand messaging. More than half responded they wanted brands to knock off any humor. Perhaps you knew this and switched up your brand mood accordingly. What if consumer sentiment has changed in your industry and laughter is back in style? These are considerations to discuss before launching your next campaign.

3. Assign marketing channel roles.

You may not have realized all the marketing channels that need to be addressed when you’re handling everything in-house. There’s the media strategy channel. Then there’s the social media channel. And how about SEO and SEM? One way to make sure you don’t miss anything during your transition to in-house is to assign duties.

For example, you may want to divvy up marketing channels between some of your top players. Or, you may have one person on your team who owns every channel and assigns tasks. Just make sure that you can track whatever project management system you use.

The last thing you want is for any marketing job to get left by the wayside. Consequently, write down all your business’s major marketing channels and put someone in charge of each.

4. Consider a hybrid in-house/outsourced marketing model.

Perhaps you’ve been trying in-house marketing and advertising for at least a few months. You like the control, but the process isn’t going as smoothly as you’d like. At that point, you may need to augment your in-house advertising by outsourcing occasionally.

Website design, content marketing, and social media marketing are often outsourced. And you don’t have to give up any freedom or control to use outsiders as needed.

If your team feels a little swamped by your in-house checklist, set up a brainstorming session. Figure out which areas could be handled by people not in your company. Then, get specific about the exact responsibilities. Do you need someone to write regular blog posts? Or deploy social media items your people create? Having extra assistance frees up your core employees to work on higher-level projects.

Ending your partnership with an ad agency could prove to be one of the best business choices you’ll make this year. Just make sure you take the necessary time to plan for a successful, seamless transition.

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