Internal vs outsourced marketing: Which solution is best for you?

Weigh up whether internal marketing or outsourced marketing is best suited to your company’s requirements with insights from Axon Garside.

Picture of Lawrence Chapman Lawrence Chapman

Published: 27 Mar 2024

7 minutes read

Internal vs outsourced marketing: Which solution is best for you? - Axon Garside
Internal vs outsourced marketing: Which solution is best for you? - Axon Garside


You know it, we know it, heck, we all know it - surviving in the hurly-burly business world is hard - really hard.

Thriving businesses operate like well-oiled machines. Whilst it's important to align teams such as sales and customer success, there’s another crucial component that’s non-negotiable: Marketing.

With more than 5 million businesses registered in the UK, and half of all new companies failing within three years, you need to lay the right foundations to avoid heading back to square one.

No shortcuts, no cutting corners.

The million-dollar question: Should you use internal marketing or outsourced marketing to drive your strategy?


What is internal marketing?

As the name suggests, internal marketing refers to the marketing processes that are completed by a company’s in-house marketing team.

Some marketing tactics need to be completed to communicate your mission and vision to your target audience, including:

There are a whole bunch of agencies available, many of which are stacked with elite talent. Yet, many companies are passing up the opportunity to delegate their marketing to an external team, opting to keep their marketing closer to home - but why?


Benefits of internal marketing

For many, the prospect of teaming up with an outsourced marketing agency is too good to turn down.

However, internal marketing allows companies to apply a deeper understanding of their brand and industry, increase control of their projects, and improve communication and collaboration amongst their employees.

So, whilst there’s every reason to beat the agency drum, it’s easy to see why some decide against outsourcing and opt to ‘Keep it in the family.’


Deep understanding of the brand and industry

Some industries can be a tough nut to crack, and using a marketing agency that can’t dedicate 100% of its time to your company is often deemed a risk.

On the other hand, using an internal marketing team means it’s in the hands of people who live and breathe your brand and understand your company and the industry in which you operate.


Increased control

When you outsource marketing, there’s an inherent risk of introducing “Too many chefs” to the mix.

Granted, many people choose a marketing agency and don’t look back. However, having fewer people involved allows for more control over decision-making, and more importantly, results.


Improved internal communication and collaboration

Cliché alert: A happy workforce makes for a productive environment.

And guess what? An internal marketing strategy can work wonders for your company culture.

When your team plays a proactive role and contributes to your marketing efforts, they feel more connected to your brand.

But, as the saying goes, there are two sides to every debate.

So, what is outsourced marketing, and what does it bring to the table?


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What is outsourced marketing?

When a company outsources marketing, it hires a dedicated agency to support its marketing efforts, including content repurposing, product positioning, alignment with the buyer journey, and more.

In some cases, a company may decide to fully outsource their marketing, in which case, the agency will be responsible for every aspect of the marketing strategy, from strategy, and execution to analysis.

On the other hand, some companies decide to complete some activities in-house and outsource part of their marketing. For example, the agency may complete the strategy, and the company may execute the plan and analyse the results.


When is outsourced marketing useful?

Outsourced marketing provides your company with fresh marketing insights, reduces your costs and allows you to focus on core business activities.

Plus, putting your faith in an agency also ensures that your strategy is informed by the latest trends and executed using specialist tools and resources that’d otherwise set you back a pretty penny.

We know exactly what you’re thinking:

“Internal marketing keeps my marketing in the hands of people who are passionate about my brand, gives me more control, and improves my company culture - why would I consider outsourcing marketing?”

Point taken.

But before you build a team and give outsourced marketing the cold shoulder; let’s focus on these perks in a little more detail.


Access to fresh perspectives

Internal marketing teams are exposed to your brand day in, and day out, stifling creativity and the overall effectiveness of your strategy.

Outsourcing your marketing to an agency instils fresh impetus for your company. You gain fresh insights on how you can innovate and reinvigorate your strategy.

Plus, don’t lose sight that agencies work with a variety of clients across multiple industries. They have extensive knowledge of the methods that work well and those that don’t.

Therefore, they’ll be able to suggest tried and tested approaches that could be applied within your company.


Reduced costs

It’s easy to fall into the mindset that your business needs to do marketing internally.

But hiring a marketing manager alone won’t cut the mustard - marketing managers manage, they don’t deliver.

The cumulative costs of building a marketing team from the ground up stack up.

That’s an average annual total of £394,223 - hardly loose change for one department.

Outsourced marketing allows you to significantly reduce your outlay and still achieve results. You can pay for one-off projects, or employ services on an annual retainer basis, providing you with flexibility and control over your spending.

Research has shown that monthly retainer rates for outsourced marketing (including adjustments based on Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation data) are more cost-effective than completing your marketing in-house.

  • SEO - £901.50 (Adjusted to £1,068.23 based on Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation data)
  • PPC - £1,040.90 (Adjusted to 1,233.03 based on CPI inflation data)
  • Marketing strategy - £738 (Adjusted to £874.98 based on CPI inflation data)
  • Organic social - £1,120 (Adjusted to £1,327.88 based on CPI inflation data)
  • Paid social - £587.50 (adjusted to £695.95 based on CPI inflation data)
  • Content marketing - £817.90 (adjusted to £968.64 based on CPI inflation data)

Total integrated agency cost = £5205.80 per month (adjusted to £6,171.08 based on CPI inflation data)


Focus on core business activities

We’ve all sat crestfallen at our desks, with a to-do list up to our elbows that doesn’t seem to be getting shorter.

Just imagine if you could pass your work elsewhere and free up some time. *Nudge nudge, wink wink*

Outsourcing your marketing to an agency is a perfect way to refocus your attention on core business activities, without putting all-important marketing assignments on the back burner.


Up-to-date knowledge and trends

Whilst it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility to keep your internal marketing teams up-to-date with fresh insights and knowledge, this does require investment in training programmes and setting time aside for them to conduct research.

We’ve already seen how much a specialist internal team could cost your business, and time is money.

At agencies, it’s pivotal for teams to keep up with the latest developments and their finger is always on the marketing pulse.

So, when you outsource to an agency, you can sleep easy knowing your strategies are based on the latest trends and developments.


Specialist tools and tech

“Give me the tools, I’ll finish the job.”

The problem? This will cost a pretty penny if you opt to complete your marketing in-house.

On the other hand, outsourced marketing agencies are equipped with specialist technology such as Google Analytics, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, SEMRush, AHrefs, etc. to get the job done, allowing you to put your wallet away and breathe a sigh of relief.


Internal marketing vs outsourced marketing: The winner is…

We hate sitting on the fence, but the honest answer is, well, there’s no definitive answer.

Your decision to use internal or outsourced marketing will likely hinge on your company/team size, how your marketing team is structured and budget.

For instance, the world’s largest companies (Apple, Disney, Netflix, etc.) are working on epic proportions and have the resources to market internally.

It’s also important not to lose sight of the fact that many large-scale companies and corporations work with agencies to accelerate profit growth and generate business.

For example, Huthwaite International have reaped the benefits of outsourcing their marketing to yours truly. With our support, they increased their online revenue by 433%, brought in an extra 1,000 leads a year, and almost tripled their customers.

British Red Cross has also witnessed the benefits of outsourcing first-hand, attracting 5,200 new leads in the first eight months of engagement with our assistance, further testament to the results agencies can bring to the fore.

For start-ups and SMEs, outsourced marketing is perfect. Oftentimes, these companies are operating on a modest budget, and have little marketing expertise. Therefore, there’s little to no margin for error.

Similarly, if you’ve tried to take your marketing into your own hands in the past and have fallen short of the mark, outsourcing and getting support from experts in the field can prevent you from repeating the same mistakes.

Regardless of whether you outsource or not, marketing is essential for your business. It’s the basis for brand awareness, the driver of profit and growth, the gateway to engagement, and the key to customer acquisition and retention.

Put simply: Ignore it at your peril.

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