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In-house marketing team vs. external agency: Picking the right team for the right job

When a new marketing project kicks off, it can be hard to pull together the right team for the job. Evaluating the current and potential talent within your organization can be time-consuming, political, and down-right difficult. And once you do have a good lay of the land, you may find you don't have the internal resources you need to get the job done right. At this point, you might find yourself asking, "Should I hire a marketing agency?"

As marketing budgets get smaller, the importance of appropriately managing your marketing dollars can add yet another layer to the project management process. With all of the data, information, people, and other variables to consider, how do you know which projects need more dollars? When does it make sense to keep a project in-house? When should you start looking at external creative or marketing firms? What are the pros and cons of each approach?

In this podcast, the Umault team discusses:

  • How the sales funnel should inform your decision to keep a project in-house vs hiring an external marketing agency
  • Why your branding video can benefit from an outside perspective
  • How keeping your high volume and social media videos in-house can save you time and money
  • The importance of finding an expert agency when you do decide to go out-of-house

If you've decided to outsource your video production, check out our buyer's guide to video production companies.

Key quotes

"It's best to bring in outside agencies when stuff has a long shelf life, when stuff is going to stand for the brand or be used for a very long time. It frees up money to spend on the higher-level external agencies rather than applying a "one size fits all" to your video budgets." - Guy Bauer
"Having somebody who can come in and bring some fresh ideas and a new perspective and really help you fight that branding and marketing fatigue that sets in when you're stuck in the day to day of working on your brand all the time is beneficial." - Tory Merritt
"If you're not able to find an expert agency that can understand the intricacies of your business, you are better staying in-house." - Tory Merritt

You can listen to the episode using the player embedded above, or you can read a full transcript below.

Episode transcript

Tory Merritt: Welcome to "So You Need A Video", the only podcast.

Rick Livingston: That we're aware of.

Tory Merritt: About simplifying your brand's sales message with video. I'm Tory Merritt, our Head Of Client Service at Umault and joining me today, I've got Guy Bauer, our CEO and creative director.

Guy Bauer: Hola.

Tory Merritt: Cómo estás, as well as Rick Livingston, our Post Production Supervisor.

Rick Livingston: Hey, how is it going?

Tory Merritt: So today we are talking about when you should pull in an external agency and when maybe you don't need to. So this is a hot topic in the marketing and advertising world. As people's budgets are getting crunched, people are trying to figure out who's the best person or best agency to work on something. It's when do I need to spend money to bring somebody external in and when maybe can I rely on my internal team? So as an external agency-

Guy Bauer: Always go to us.

Tory Merritt: From the start.

Guy Bauer: No, please don't.

Tory Merritt: As an external agency, we talk to a lot of folks that this is a question that they are still battling internally and they've reached out to us to try to help make the decision, gather some information, figure out is it worth going external or just get it done inside with Matt in the marketing department. So Guy, owner of an agency, when are we a good fit, I guess I would ask, for making a video?

Guy Bauer: I haven't figured out my analogy perfectly, but I would say imagine a sales funnel and on top you have awareness, on the bottom you have the prospect making the buying decision. On the top definitely go to an agency. On the bottom, keep it inside and then just fill in the blanks. It is just a gradient. Just a curve from top to bottom. So I think it's best to bring in outside agencies when stuff has a long shelf life. when stuff is going to stand for the brand or be used for a very long time. So it may not even be just a lead generation asset, but it could be like a conversion asset that you're giving to your salespeople to show to prospects, in one-on-one situations and you intend on that video to last three to four years. To me, I would go outside for that.

Guy Bauer: But the more customer testimonial type stuff, the more tactical product demos or even just the content marketing on LinkedIn, whatever social platforms. I would say bring that stuff in-house because what that will do actually is free up money to spend on the higher-level external agencies rather than kind of applying a one size fits all to your video budgets. So almost like think of that funnel in terms of how much you should be spending on the video too. As you go down towards the bottom of the funnel, budgets should be smaller and up top should be higher.

Tory Merritt: Well, and I think a good example of when to bring in an external agency, and our friend David C. Baker talks about, it's very difficult for you to figure out your own positioning and the best way to describe yourself, even if you've already formulated like here's our branding and our brand identity, but how do I make a video about it? So David describes it, I believe, as you're standing in the inside of a jar and there's a label on the outside, but from the inside you can't read that label. You need somebody on the outside of the jar to be able to pick it up and say, "Oh, it's very simple. Here it is." And that's something that you need an external agency for.

Tory Merritt: I have experienced clients that you're constantly working on your own company's stuff over and over and over in the barrage of everyday things. You start to get tired, you get fatigued, you get sick of doing the same old thing, and it starts to cloud your ability to come up with fresh ideas because you're too dang tired. So bringing somebody in to help you through that process is beneficial in the sense of not only, hopefully, the heavy lifting the agency is able to help you do, but they give you that fresh perspective that you're just many times overwhelmed and too tired to be able to figure out yourself.

Guy Bauer: Along with that perspective, I think too, if you think about it, your people, your in-house team, they are in your brand every day. But the external agency sees... We see probably, we're interacting with on average five brands a week across different verticals, but mainly in the same application of video in terms of sales and high-level branding content. When you see an external agency, we're bringing knowledge from other use cases of video, like some dozens if not hundreds. So there's tons of like expertise that we can leverage to bring like a shot of fresh energy into your brand.

Tory Merritt: Which I was looking through... We do a lot of stuff in the healthcare space and I was thinking through a new opportunity that came in and realized that not only do we have experience from our revenue cycle management perspective, we've got from the actual pharmaceutical company perspective, we've got the hospital system perspective as well as now, potentially, some of these AI solutions specifically for those healthcare practitioners and being able to put all those things together is hugely beneficial. Personally, I'm sending care to thinking like, this is awesome because I'm thinking about this from all of these different perspectives that if I were just one of those entities, yes, I'm super knowledgeable about things but I haven't put together essentially the marketing of a video from the perspective of all of those different phases. It actually made me really excited to work on the project because I'm like, "Oh my gosh." Like we know so and so that's done this. We know exactly what we should say for this part of it and how it all fits together.

Guy Bauer: You get that the agency brings a macro view, and they know where your business fits in. Like kind of across the economy.

Tory Merritt: And to think of us as like a solar system, like in the galaxy and like we've got multiple planets within the solar system, potentially. We've got your planet plus three or four others that all come together and we see how they work together to make the solar system as opposed to just what life is like on one or two of those planets.

Guy Bauer: So that's definitely, I think everyone can relate to. And it seems pretty obvious. If you bring in an outside agency, you get an outside perspective and there's value in that outside perspective. But I also think there's value in the process. So we bring a process that's been like done over and over and over, and that's where we bring in our timeline guru extraordinaire, Rick Livingston.

Rick Livingston: Hello.

Tory Merritt: The ranger.

Guy Bauer: So like, what's the value to a brand using an outside agency because of the process? Like I guess where does the process fit in that value matrix?

Rick Livingston: Yeah, I mean it's a success in terms of knowing that we're going to be hitting the deadlines every time and-

Tory Merritt: Where they should even go or where they should be.

Rick Livingston: Right. And we have the experience... Outside of the deadlines we even have experience of knowing creatively what's the best thing that's going to work for this specific video.

Tory Merritt: Because we've done it before.

Rick Livingston: We've done it before.

Guy Bauer: From a process standpoint, this process has been used dozens of times and if you think about it, if us, the agency or whatever external agency you're using, because they keep applying relatively the same process over and over and over, the agency knows the map better than you may of how to get from point A to point B of where you want to go. That, maybe, if you think about using your in-house, they're going to have to forge that path for the first time themselves. Whereas we come in with the path.

Tory Merritt: And the reps. That's the biggest thing is it's iron forged. We're not just like, "Hey, I think this is how we should do it. Bring us in." It has to be done right and it has to be done right the first time. That's when you bring in an expert because they get you from A to Z without having to go A to D back to A like having issues with being able to keep things moving forward. And having somebody to help project manage is a huge asset from my experience as well. Even with people that we work with as vendors or partners is having somebody else to be like, "Hey, reminder, that feedback is due." Having to tackle all of that yourself internally for the whole project when you've got a million other projects to deal with is an asset. And Rick, you experienced that firsthand is just being able to manage through those kinds of projects.

Rick Livingston: Yeah, it's a project in itself to basically be a project manager, if that makes any sense.

Tory Merritt: All right, so Guy, you've got one more thought on a good reason to go out-of-house.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. So another way you can leverage an outside agency is to do like a knowledge transfer to have us come in and train your in-house team on the process, on best practices, and all that stuff. So it's a way of like, yeah, you're going to pay us for that, but you pay once and then now that competency is transferred to your in-house team to apply across the board.

Tory Merritt: So it's like teach your people to fish so you can stop paying other people to do it for you.

Guy Bauer: Correct. Okay. So those are all reasons why a brand would go to an outside agency. Why would you keep it in-house?

Tory Merritt: We work with complex sales messages. So there's lots of details and lots of specifics. My experience to this point, I've worked with many clients where the way that they did things in their products and their services were very proprietary. It's very difficult for outsiders to come in and understand it. That's something I think as Umault we do a great job, but there are other agencies that may not be the best fit for that.

Tory Merritt: So you bring somebody in who, we've talked to a client who they don't get it, they just don't get it and you're spending so much time trying to explain to them like, "No, that's not what we do. I've explained it to you a million different ways. Yes, I know you're used to doing like direct to consumer stuff. We don't do that. We work with sales techs and engineers and it doesn't work that way." So there's value in that. If you're not able to find an expert agency that can understand the intricacies of your business, you are better staying in-house in those situations.

Guy Bauer: And I was talking to a client the other day and they're actually going to bring back a piece of the responsibility that the outside agency had. They're just bringing that back in just because it was taking too long to get the agency up to speed. So I think it's the same thing. It sounds to me like it's like almost like management delegation. Like, when do you do something yourself? When do you bring in somebody else? When do you hire a consultant? I think it's like kind of like triaging. Yeah. So part of it is the talent. There's a certain kind of people that would go full time in-house and there's a certain breed of people that need the-

Tory Merritt: The variety.

Guy Bauer: The variety.

Tory Merritt: ... that comes along with agency life or freelance life.

Guy Bauer: So you gain access to I think a different kind of talent.

Tory Merritt: And the gig economy in a sense what the gig economy has to provide. You get more access going externally.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. And one other point on the... when to keep something internal was, when it's kind of just more day to day tactical testimonial and stuff, that's when I would keep it in.

Tory Merritt: And why is that?

Guy Bauer: Shorter shelf life.

Tory Merritt: Because the deliverable has shorter shelf life. So it's not worth, what we're saying is it's not worth the extra funds. Literally just the cost of getting something up and running externally for something.

Guy Bauer: And I think that's a competency that you want to develop. It's almost like ask yourself would I want more than like 10 of these kinds of videos in a year?

Tory Merritt: Yeah.

Guy Bauer: And if the answer is yes, well heck, use your inside people. The first few testimonials will be terrible, but then eventually they'll learn the competency. But it's like a brand film. Am I going to be making five brand films a year? No. You're going to make one brand film for the next five years, go out because the time it takes your team to get ramped up and learn it, you're actually wasting even more money and time. So it's like if I'm going to be producing a lot of these or in the...in an ideal world, making a lot in B2B sales, those testimonials, the more you have and the more specific you can be, that like really helps the sales process. If you have an internal team, use them and I put them on that, I would put them on social posts-

Tory Merritt: We've seen a lot of that is clients doing social internally. It just makes more sense if you're going to post it one time, unless it's for an event or something big, and you have to be quick. That's the other thing is a great reason to go in-house is if you need it turned around in two days so you can post it or you're quickly reacting to something that's happened in the news or events. Internal is a better way to spend your money to get something quickly and get it done.

Guy Bauer: And I would also say is, as hard as this is for me to say as a video snob, the internal stuff doesn't need to look as nice. Quite frankly, if the day to day content was too polished, it kind of takes away the authenticity from that kind of brand voice of humanity and everything. So it's also us external agency people we're going to give you that high polish. That's not a good solution across the board for all of your video content.

Tory Merritt: We always reference cars. It's like you're driving a Porsche when you really needed a minivan for the purpose. Why buy the Porsche to drive to the grocery store when you really just need the minivan to fit the kids and the bags in the back.

Guy Bauer: Say, "Quiet down."

Tory Merritt: You better calm down.

Tory Merritt: So we've had some great discussion on thinking through whether you should make your video in-house or whether you should go to an external agency. So in summary, great times to go to an external agency like ours would be when you're doing high-level branding videos or top of funnel videos where you really need an expert to come in and help you see how others see you and help you redefine how they see you, and how you want them to see you. It's great too, when you're stuck in the day to day of working on your brand all the time, you start to get this brain fog.

Tory Merritt: Being able to have somebody who can come in and bring some fresh ideas and a new perspective and really help you fight that branding and marketing fatigue that sets in. Another option for bringing in an outside agency is when you need to get it done quickly and right the first time. You need somebody who's got that expert process, who's got the reps, who can help you get from A to Z one time and not have to spend a bunch of time going back and forth. Another option we talked about is talent. So being able to pull together your "A team". Pull together your Warriors team that is the best, so that you don't have to kind of substitute constantly to try and get the work done. And then an awesome idea that Guy mentioned was being able to use us to help teach your internal team the best way to do it.

Tory Merritt: So the whole concept of teaching a person to fish versus just handing them a basket and having to keep going back to those people over and over. We love working with you, but being able to teach your people is a great asset as well.

Tory Merritt: Opportunities to go in-house or just keep the video with your people - when there's a short shelf life. So spending a bunch of money on something like social that's going to get posted and everyone's going to forget about it in two days - stay in-house, use your resources. Something that's bottom of funnel or there's just a bunch of quantity and the quality doesn't matter as much, keeping that in-house is a great way to save money for when it makes more sense to go out-of-house. And then when something is super complex, we work with a lot of clients where they struggle, prior to finding us...

Guy Bauer: Polishing my nails...

Tory Merritt: ... to find an agency that gets it. A lot of times you're just going to waste so much time trying to explain it and you're going to end up with work that you don't like. So there are times where keeping that work in-house with the people who already get it, you don't have to explain it a million times, makes more sense. So that should help as you're trying to explore best ways to spend your budget and figure out which videos make sense to work with an external agency on and which videos to keep in-house. You do you to get it done the way you need it.

Guy Bauer: Awesome.

Tory Merritt: Cool. Well, thank you Guy. Thank you, Rick.

Rick Livingston: Thank you.

Guy Bauer: My pleasure.

Tory Merritt: And thanks for listening to 'So You Need a Video'. For more information and for links to any of the resources that we talked about in this episode, go ahead and visit our website at umault.com that's U-M-A-U-L-T .com and if you liked what you heard today, let's be honest, you did, please subscribe and leave us a review on your podcast app. Thanks for listening.





Picture of Guy bauer, founder of umault

Guy has been making commercial videos for over 20 years and is the author of “Death to the Corporate Video: A Modern Approach that Works.” He started the agency in 2010 after a decade of working in TV, film and radio. He’s been losing hair and gaining weight ever since.

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