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Crafting the Optimal Marketing Team: Navigating the In-House vs Outsourcing Dilemma

Many mid-size B2B companies today still underinvest in marketing, missing out on tremendous growth opportunities. With limited resources, marketing is often treated as an afterthought or checked box rather than a strategic driver of sales and revenue.

But statistics show marketing’s vital role today:

  • Companies with dedicated marketing teams achieve up to 2x faster revenue growth (Forrester)
  • B2B content marketing leads generate over 20% more sales opportunities than traditional outbound marketing (DemandGen Report)
  • Consistent blogging boosts lead generation by over 250% (HubSpot)

Marketing is central to acquiring and retaining customers in today’s digitally disrupted markets. 

Without visibility and engagement, you become irrelevant. Your competitors race ahead, playing an entirely different marketing game.

Mid-size companies must optimize their marketing capabilities to punch above their weight.

Building an effective marketing operation is crucial for business growth, but determining the proper structure can be a complex balancing act. 

Should marketing capabilities be developed in-house or outsourced? There is no absolute answer, and this can change over time. 

But we have tried our best to objectively get to the nitty gritty factors to weigh when deciding between internal and external marketing resources. 

We’ll explore budgetary considerations, skill set requirements, workload realities, and more. 

You’ll see data-backed examples of potential team configurations and an analysis of the advantages and challenges inherent to each approach. 

Whether you’re looking to assemble an internal dream team, take a hybrid approach, or outsource most marketing tasks, you’ll gain a strategic framework to craft a marketing operation tailored to your organization’s specific needs and objectives.

The In-House Dream Team: Aspirational, But Possible?

Let’s examine the in-house route. What would an internal marketing dream team look like, and what is the actual cost?

Here’s one vision of a robust marketing team in-house:

  • Marketing Director
  • Marketing Coordinator 
  • Copywriter
  • Graphic Designer
  • Videographer
  • Email Marketing Specialist
  • Marketing Analytics Specialist  
  • Digital Advertising Specialist
  • SEO/SEM Specialist
  • Social Media Manager

When accounting for competitive salaries and employment overhead, this 10-person team could exceed $70,000 per month. 

And that’s not even factoring in the costs of hiring, training, and retaining top talent. In addition, aligning with the business vision so that marketing is a real value and revenue generator, vs. just execution. 

While this may seem like the dream, building this in-house expertise may not be realistic or necessary for many organizations. In our experience on both sides of the fence, there’s always someone changing or missing, which takes a toll on the entire team. However, the in-house route offers advantages like:

  • Deep knowledge of company culture and industry (on the fence here!)
  • Direct customer relationships 
  • Simplified communication
  • Avoiding the agency learning curve

The Hybrid Model: Getting Strategic With Internal vs. Outsourced Marketing

Rather than pursuing an all-in-house or all-outsourced approach, many companies succeed with a hybrid model. This involves maintaining a small internal marketing staff while strategically supplementing with an agency.

What does this look like in most cases? Here’s one example of a streamlined but powerful internal roster:

  • Marketing Director 
  • Marketing Coordinator
  • Graphic Designer

With this core team in place, specialized skills like content creation, advertising, and analytics could be outsourced as needed. This provides helpful flexibility while keeping industry expertise and customer relationships* in-house.

When executed thoughtfully, the hybrid model can amplify internal capabilities with external perspectives. The internal team focuses on company-specific knowledge and directs customer interactions. The outsourced team provides on-demand expertise to fill skill sets or bandwidth gaps. 

This can seem a very sweet deal, and you need some version of this, but it can also come with challenges. For example, regardless of the external perspective, there’s still a bridge from customer to vendor that can culturally be hard to manage successfully. This comes with many other extreme cliffs, like the distance between strategy and execution. 

The Outsourcing Advantage: Gaining Agility and Perspective

Now, let’s examine scenarios where outsourcing most marketing responsibilities can provide strategic advantages. 

Partnering with an agency can be game-changing for sales-driven organizations without significant in-house marketing staff. It allows you to deploy specialized capabilities without expensive hiring and training costs quickly.

You also gain an outside perspective that in-house teams often lack. 

Seasoned or industry-specific agencies excel at providing an objective sounding board for testing strategies and identifying blind spots.

Of course, letting go of internal control can also pose challenges. Extra effort must be invested to educate agencies about company nuances and brand standards. Still, for many organizations, the benefits of agility and expertise outweigh the drawbacks. 

Key Considerations When Structuring Your Marketing Team

When determining the right marketing team structure, focus on aligning with your business realities and objectives. Consider factors like:

  • Available marketing budget – In-house teams require significant ongoing investment. Outsourcing provides more variable costs.
  • Current in-house capabilities – Do you already have foundational skills to build upon? Or are you starting from zero?
  • Workload bandwidth – Can current staff absorb additional marketing responsibilities?
  • Need for specialized expertise – Are advanced digital skills like automation essential? Or are you seeking generalists?
  • Customer touchpoints – Do you value direct control of customer communications?

By weighing elements like these, you can determine the right marketing mix to support your organization now and in the future.

While there’s no one “perfect” formula, the framework and scenarios provided allow you to see the whole picture to make informed, strategic decisions about structuring your marketing team. 

That being said, avoid analysis paralysis. Agility is invaluable in B2B marketing. 

Outsourcing for sure makes us more agile, however, there are times that we need to balance stuff out. Just remember the following:

  • B2B customers and markets move fast – With rapidly evolving technologies, buyer demands, and competitive forces, marketing strategies must adapt quickly to stay relevant. Agility enables pivoting messaging, campaigns, and initiatives in response to market changes.
  • Long, complex sales cycles – B2B sales often involve dynamic interactions across multiple stakeholders over extended periods. Agile marketing can shift tactics in sync with where prospects are on the journey to drive conversions.
  • Data-driven refinement is continuous – With analytics integral to B2B, marketing must iteratively test and optimize activities based on performance data. Agility allows capitalizing on what works and changing what doesn’t.
  • Differentiation is impermanent – Unique value propositions can be copied easily. By adjusting differentiation strategies rapidly, agility enables innovation thead of the curve.
  • Resource constraints require focus – With limited budgets and people, agility enables shifting resources to the highest ROI activities and cutting what isn’t working.
  • Alignment with sales is ongoing – As sales team priorities and challenges evolve, agile marketing can refine strategies to enable sales effectiveness.
  • Executing at speed is essential – Being nimble and responsive allows capitalizing on opportunities and challenges in real-time. Slow strategy shifts lose out.

Marketing is always changing. Regularly re-evaluating your organization’s structure can help you build an agile team that drives growth. By configuring your marketing capabilities internally and externally right, you can meet your needs today and grow with your organization.

*internal or external.

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