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CMO survey results: Companies are now investing in marketing talent in-house

Benefits of in-house marketing skills

Investing in marketing talent in-house can help you draw on specialized knowledge, take advantage of scale, and raise the internal stature of the marketing function. Learn more about the benefits of in-house marketing vs. agency marketing.

Bringing skills in-house

Our most recent CMO Survey tells us marketers are serious about using in-house skills instead of entrusting work to vendors. Here at Deloitte, we know that because it's something our own clients are doing—and because we've taken the same approach to our own marketing needs.

When specialized agencies are available to bid on almost everything a marketer does, why invest in your own shop? There's more to it than just control. Bringing marketing skills in-house can also help you draw on specialized knowledge, take advantage of scale, and raise the internal stature of the marketing function.

In the February CMO Survey, 56 percent of marketing leaders said their primary approach to developing new marketing capabilities involved training current employees or hiring ones with the necessary skills.

Only 14 percent said partnering with marketing agencies was the approach they emphasized the most. In social media, survey respondents said only 19 percent of their activities went to outside agencies—a slight downtick from the previous survey, and notably below the high-water mark of 22 percent in mid-2015.

In our own operation, we used to work with more than a thousand external agencies to help run hundreds of distinct campaigns. The jobs got done, but the fragmented approach made it hard for marketing to drive a strategic direction. We made the transition to an in-house agency model that centralizes planning, production, and reporting across the needs of many business units.

Many companies are coming to the same conclusion. They're finding that an in-house agency approach makes it easier to ramp up capabilities and execute on campaigns, especially ones that require technical expertise. Think of the in-house function as an "engine" that relies on component parts such as campaign management, creative development, experience delivery, and value delivery all working together.

Should your organization follow this path? Some of the key questions to consider involve scale, skills, and leverage. For example, investing in the ability to produce video in-house can combine cost savings with better results from people who are closer to the work—but likely only if you shoot enough video to make it worthwhile. You should also consider where to place the dividing line on specialized skills: Even with your own video editors and producers, could needs like virtual reality or event production still work better via outsourcing? Then there's the potential that working with an outside provider can deliver synergies you'd miss out on working alone, such as the insights that happen when partners share data and analytics.

When an organization decides to take more of its marketing work inside, it can be important to surround those skills and teams with the support they need to function. This may include restructuring, either with new reporting lines or around centralized hubs. Then, within the new structures, make sure the specialists you've put in place are empowered to take charge of their work.

Here at Deloitte, we feel our transformation to an in-house agency model has left us more agile, better able to work toward big-picture goals, and more consistent around brand and message. People can have a greater chance to take pride in their craft. And speaking with a unified voice, our department has a bigger seat at the strategic table. And when we present ourselves to the global market, there's no doubt about whose voice they're hearing: Our own.

Christine Cutten, Deloitte Marketing practice leader

CMO Survey insights series

Look deeper into the February 2018 CMO Survey results with insights from our leaders. 

About The CMO Survey

Deloitte supports the CMO Survey—conducted biannually since 2008 by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business marketing professor Christine Moorman—as a measure of how marketing leaders are navigating this brave new world. The survey reports on their priorities and plans enabling marketers to compare staffing, budgeting, and investment areas, and identify potential trends.

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