The In-house Agency Series (Part 1): How to Ensure Buy-in for Your In-house Agency
by Síle Cleary
More and more companies are moving their marketing and advertising in-house. Earlier this year, it was reported that 44% of brands are considering establishing an in-house capability in 2017. Significant cost savings and speed-to-market benefits are deemed as the key drivers behind this move. At Screendragon, we have helped some of our clients make the transition to an in-house agency model through the support of our robust software platform. In fact, we recently shared our experience in this area at a masterclass entitled "How to Build an In-House Agency for Success" at The Hoxton in London.
We thought it worthwhile to continue the conversation with a series of informative posts on our blog. In the first in a series of posts around building an in-house agency, we provide some key tips on how to ensure buy-in for your in-house agency.
Communicate the benefits
There’s a reason (or two) as to why you’re thinking about making the move to an in-house agency and you need to be clear on what that it is so you can communicate it to others and get them on side. Simply saying that it will make life easier is not going to cut it. Senior leadership will want to hear the strategic benefits of bringing the advertising or marketing function in-house. Cutting costs, delivering better results, becoming more agile and responsive, giving the organization a strategic advantage over the competition. These are the things the board needs to hear about. There may be many other small advantages – but if you want buy-in from the top, stick to the bigger picture. If you can tie it into the organization’s one, three or five-year strategic objectives that’s a big win.
Create an effective implementation strategy
Communicating why you want to bring the advertising or marketing function in-house is one thing but actually making the transition is a whole different board game. Creating an agency from scratch, which is essentially what you’re doing, is no mean feat. The most effective implementation strategies involve breaking this journey down into transitional steps and bringing key functionalities and responsibilities in-house in a staged process over time. In doing so, the existing internal team have time to transition into their new roles and it gives you more time to source additional resources, or train existing ones with the new skills required to broaden the offering. Of course, there’s more to a successful implementation than planning how your new, in-house agency will function. You will also need to think about how you’re going to communicate the new functionality to your clients. Very few people like change and so you’re going to have to explain the process and the benefits of it on a functional level (as opposed to a strategic level in the first point above). This means talking about having dedicated internal account managers, delivering faster, better service and being more in control of the end result.
There’s no getting away from the fact that bringing your advertising or marketing function in-house is a complex project. There’s the acquisition of new skills, probably new personnel and new technology. There’s the monetary aspect of things too. You’ll need money to make the changes and you’ll also have to make sure your cost centre becomes profitable so there’s some real thought needed around how to price your services and how to bill your internal clients. But that’s not all. Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of the project will be the people. As we mentioned earlier, there’s a boardroom to convince. After that there’s your internal customers you have to get on side. You’ll also need buy-in from your existing team who are likely to be concerned about job security and if and how they will be compensated for any additional responsibilities. Don’t forget too, you’ll have to have some tough conversations with your current suppliers, many of whom you’ll no longer be using over time. It’s safe to say then, that this role isn’t best suited to a shy, retiring type. Strong leadership with a laser sharp focus is a must.
You did it. You successfully moved yourself to an in-house agency set-up. It was a tough slog but now the skills, the processes and the people – they’re all in place. Now it’s time to deliver the proof that the project was worthwhile and measure the effects of the change. Of course, in order to do this correctly, you’ll need to have chosen some metrics to measure before the change so you have something to compare the new measurements against. Project turnaround time and customer satisfaction are two important metrics we’d choose to measure. Costs to the business and ROI should also be at the top of the list. Don’t worry if your metrics aren’t quite where you thought they’d be from the word go – depending on the size of your new agency, the true performance may not be met for 6-12 months after you complete the transition.
One key consideration when making the leap to in-house is how to utilise technology effectively to make the job of you and your team easier. More effective working practices means a lower project spend and a higher likelihood of delivering that all important ROI and here at screendragon we can help with that. Our unique project, resource and workflow management software is the ideal platform for high performing teams helping to minimize inefficiencies and maximize ROI. Want to know more?Book in for a free personalised demo of our software today.
Stay tuned for the next post in The In-house Agency Series: “Learnings from the coalface – hear how Screendragon clients made the transition from outsourced to in-house."