As increasing numbers of corporations and institutions move to internalize their marketing efforts, they risk losing a pair of key benefits agencies provide.
The first is that they no longer profit from these marketers’ experience with other clients. Work done for other organizations could provide valuable insights into the problem your organization faces.
The bigger issue, however, is that an internal team is too close to the brand and the people building it.
Here are three reasons why your proximity to your brand could be hurting your marketing:
1. You can’t prioritize.
Choosing what is most important about your products or services can be like picking between your children. Thus, you run the risk that everything is treated as equally important.
Experts find even the minutiae interesting, leading to an overestimation of the average consumer’s time, interest and commitment. You might think new features are revolutionary, while your audience may just find them unnecessary or irrelevant.
One example of this is software updates. Trying to sell the latest version with 50 new features doesn’t work if the consumer only uses 5 percent of the program’s capabilities as it is. (I’m looking at you, Excel.)
Being steeped in your brand can render you incapable of answering the essential question “What does my target consumer really care about?”
2. Politics may get in the way.
One of the greatest benefits of any consultant, marketing or otherwise, is their ability to voice what internal team members might be thinking but are afraid to say.
Consultants can have a meeting and leave. They don’t necessarily deal with the fall-out that plagues a full-time employee who makes an unpopular point.
Take, for example, Pepsi’s ill-considered Kendall Jenner/Black Lives Matter advertisement. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the spot was conceptually generated and executed by their inhouse team, the Creators League Studio. At the time, Jimmy Kimmel said: “The fact that this somehow made it through—I can’t imagine how many meetings, and edits, and pitches, and then got the thumbs-up from who knows how many people is absolutely mind-boggling.”
Again, according to the Reporter, the president of PepsiCo’s global beverage group immediately tweeted he was “proud” of the spot. Imagine you’re on that marketing team and your president is flying high on the idea. Do you really feel in a position to challenge the wisdom of the ad?
3. You are married to the past.
Like any long relationship, you have baggage.
You let decisions made in previous years inform tomorrow’s choices—and in today’s world, that’s dangerous. Beware the mindset of how “things have always been done.”
When Old Spice started to lose market share in men’s body wash, they hired a new agency. It’s unlikely an inhouse team for the storied Budweiser brand would seize on the idea of frogs. From the outset, these ideas would have felt off-brand, yet they provided the foundation for some of the most successful advertising of all time—all because the organization hired a fresh set of eyes.
A good agency takes your brand’s messaging, features and history and translates them for the public. Rather than considering what the brand expects from the consumer, it considers what the consumer needs from the brand. It approaches issues backwards, sifting through and winnowing down based on what consumers find interesting, what they find valuable, what helps them decide to buy.
Agencies can challenge and vet concepts in ways internal teams can’t. Like any new hire, they bring a fresh perspective and impartial set of eyes.
Katie Fetting is a VP, Creative Director at TeamWorks Media.