If you’re starting to get excited at the thought of doing business without an external marketing budget, take a step back and think again. Not to burst your balloon about saving an “outrageous fortune”, but it may not be as cheap and efficient as it sounds.
Your first challenge is going to be finding the people you need for your internal dream team. Your second challenge will be keeping them.
Creative people thrive on variety. Unless your organization is a resume-builder like Apple, Google or Amazon, many will hesitate to take a gig that involves focusing on just one brand day in and day out. Even though you may be offering a better salary than they might make at an agency, especially at higher seniority levels, you may still struggle to attract talent.
Even if you do, you’d better have something more exciting for them to work on than an endless stream of PowerPoint decks. It’s a reality of the creative business that the wacky people who can knock it out of the park every time tend to gravitate to the agency world. Your in-house videographer who specializes in training videos may not have the breadth of experiences, equipment or other resources to create that Super Bowl-worthy commercial your CEO has his heart set on. Good project managers are a bit easier to find — and more likely to fit into a corporate culture — but you’ll need someone who knows how to work with creative types (which is an art form in itself).
As more companies buy into marketing automation using tools like HubSpot, Marketo and similar services, a new challenge to effective marketing is starting to appear. These complicated systems need people with strong digital skills. But in many cases, we’re seeing in-house groups attracting workers with a technical mindset, rather than those with a marketing focus. Some believe these two are the same, but they’re not. It’s one thing for a prospect to “like” your social media post; engagement that drives business is another matter.
Depending on your location, it might also be a challenge to find qualified local people. Attracting every bit of talent you need from your own city or town may not be a problem if you’re in Houston, Philadelphia or San Diego. But not everyone wants to move to Durango, Colorado, Burlington, North Carolina, or Anchorage, Alaska (I can recommend Dayton, Ohio — though I may be a little biased). If you don’t offer remote work opportunities, you may find yourself stymied by geographic limitations.
If you’re an engineering/manufacturing or profit-driven organization, you may face cultural challenges when it comes to managing creative types. There’s a craziness that comes with the creative side of marketing that isn’t always a good fit in a corporate environment. In-house groups often become “islands” who find it hard to connect with the rest of the organization and vice versa. The risk is even greater if they regularly have to work with subject matter experts (SMEs) who have no sense of humor or managers accustomed to running engineering teams.
Another common pitfall is that you may not always have enough work for your in-house team to do. Then you’ve either got folks sitting around or getting spread too thin because they’re filling gaps in other areas. In my experience, both of these scenarios can cause the work quality to suffer.
Worst of all, however, is the moment when you realize you need outside-the-box marketing work that exceeds the capability of your in-house resources. If your scope is too limited and you have little or no external budget, you have two choices (both of them bad). You can let an inexperienced person try to imitate agency-level work, or you can pay the professionals to do what professionals do, in which case you’re paying twice.