Over the past 10+ years, there has been a consistent trend of brands in-housing their marketing agency work. This is driven by the expectation of gaining greater control and transparency, ensuring consistency between creative and media strategies, better aligning with broader business goals and initiatives, and reducing overhead costs related to agency management and oversight. In fact, the IHAF/Forrester 2021 In-House Agency Survey found that the number of brands with in in-house agencies grew from 58% to 77% between 2013 and 2021.
Many do not realize the depth of time and resources required to execute this process. Brands need not only to forge relationships with the appropriate technology and vendor partners -- but also, more importantly, source the right talent with the skills necessary to execute necessary tasks who are also a cultural fit for your organization.
Fortunately, you do not have to take an all-or-nothing approach to agency relationships. In fact, hybrid agency models allow brands to gain the best of both worlds, with in-house marketing capabilities being supplemented by agency specialists. Taking a hybrid approach to agency contracts can be a win-win for both parties, leading to healthier, longer-lasting partnerships.
Here are four key reasons why brands should consider a hybrid agency model:
Happier employees and partners. Brand marketers will gain the ability to dedicate more time and energy toward fulfilling tasks and projects, which reduces turnover and promotes stronger strategic thinking. On the flip side, the agency account team feels like a trusted partner, clearly understanding where they offer expertise.
Increased flexibility. In Forrester’s report entitled “The Brands’ Guide to In-Housing Media,” analysts lay out a basic framework of what an agency could own versus what the brand could own of campaign planning and execution.
The report suggests that an agency could be responsible for a good portion of the research and strategy development, as well as execution, whereas the brand could own data and technology.
The good news is that these roles and responsibilities are based on the strengths and weaknesses of your team members. Figure out what gaps you need to fill and have an agency partner augment either permanently or temporarily, if you want to hire an internal subject matter expert.
New insights and perspectives. You’ll gain access to an outside team to help drive innovation in your marketing initiatives. It’s easy to create an echo chamber that can cause your brand to become stagnant, even if you think you know your brand inside out. Having an agency team invested in your success, has a pulse on what other companies are doing, and knows the latest technological trends and best practices provides comfort in knowing your brand will be challenged to test and learn.
Creation of added value. The sum of the whole is greater than its parts. By having respective teams who are experts in particular areas, you will find the overarching marketing strategy and execution is typically stronger than what can be contributed individually. This ultimately means better ROI for your brand.