Bringing your creative in-house has the potential to be a tremendous long-term investment and cost-saver. But most businesses lack the sophisticated organizational infrastructure needed to properly support and use an internal creative team, and almost all lack the experience and understanding needed to facilitate such a transition. Without the right leadership and oversight, an internalization of creative responsibilities and production will quickly become an expensive disaster.
One of the largest trends in marketing talent in recent years has been the corporate internalization of creative departments, either by hiring a creative team or purchasing entire agencies outright. Brands that are able to pull it off are rewarded with cost savings and improved creative production—but that success can only be seen when the process is handled carefully. A botched insourcing process means wasted investment, not to mention weaker marketing that hurts sales and the bottom line.
Unfortunately, it is not as easy as simply hiring the right creatives. You need to create the structure and processes for their creativity to actually matter. Building this structure is a one-time event and not an ongoing need. The last thing you want is expensive creative talent that finds itself rudderless and unable to contribute meaningfully to the business. In these cases, it’s often wise to enlist the assistance of an interim creative executive who understands how top agencies function to maximize the output of their creative horsepower. They are able to efficiently integrate your new creative department into your marketing department and overall corporate structure.
Related Reading: How a Big Biz Can Internalize Excellent Design Teams in 4 Steps
The ROI of Insourcing your Creative
Bringing your creative in-house should be attractive to businesses for a variety of reasons:
- Trimming agency markup: An hour spent working on a creative project at an agency often costs several times what it would if it were being handled in-house. When you rely on an agency to produce your creative, you’re not just paying their creative talent; you’re also paying their management, their account executives, their accounting team and so on. Taking on those responsibilities yourself cuts out the middle man markup.
- Improved responsiveness: Your market situation can change in an instant, and sometimes your marketing needs a creative response, fast. That’s hard to get when you have to work through an established third-party channel that you have no direct control over. Agency relationships mean established procedures you have to work through to get to the creative you need: account director channels, meetings, work orders, creative briefs, and more. And of course if you make a rush order that will substantially increase costs. Insourcing cuts out the extra steps and lets you dictate creative priorities so you have fast access to the assets you need for a responsive, flexible marketing strategy.
- More control: The creative your organization publishes is the public face of your company. When oversight of that creative is given to someone else, you’re handing off immediate control of your brand image. When you have a very specific message and position you want to hold and present, insourcing your creative means you can fine tune it to precisely match your vision.
So Much More Than Hiring Creatives
Hiring a bunch of designers and copywriters doesn’t mean you have a creative department. There’s a lot of moving parts and roles needed to complete a creative team of any size, from developers to project managers to video producers and beyond. Many organizations new to creative agency ownership might overlook a critical price of the puzzle and end up with a lot of talent abut very little production. Moreover, a firm with little creative experience of its own will struggle to make an effective creative recruitment and creative staffing strategy. After all, how can they be expected to identify quality creative talent if they don’t know what to look for?
And even if you acquire an entire pre-packaged agency that already has all the essential ingredients, that doesn’t mean it will be a plug-and-play solution that’s able to deliver right out of the box. It’s not as simple as turning off your previous creative outsourcing processes and rerouting them to the new internal team–you must establish new systems and acquire the right tools and technology so that your insourced agency can perform at the top of its game and effectively collaborate with the relevant internal stakeholders.
A veteran creative insourcing consultant solves both of these problems. They know what talent and structure a creative team would need to succeed in your organization and deliver the ideas, messaging and content your brand needs to stand out and gain a competitive advantage.
Why a Standard Creative Executive Won’t Cut It
In most cases it won’t be enough to recruit a creative marketing executive to oversee the process (though starting with a foundation of strong creative leadership is certainly better than nothing). These professionals might be quite good at maintaining an established department—but they’re rarely experienced in building a department from the ground up or managing change and integration on an organization-wide scale.
You’ll want to conduct a creative marketing executive search sooner or later to find a more long-term leader for your new creative team eventually. But in the short term, the greatest challenge will be finding how your new creative team fits into the organization as a whole, and establishing the right systems to ensure it’s able to operate.
This is easier said than done, especially in larger, more established organizations that aren’t always as adaptive to change as you’d like. Quickly adding a new team or department can step on a lot of toes and disrupt a lot of heavily-embedded internal processes. A specialized marketing consultant experienced in this kind of departmental onboarding can make the entire process easier at every step so spend less time integrating and more time producing creative that drives results.