I was called in to speak on the "Bringing It In-house PPC" panel at SMX last week. Though I do individual consulting for various companies, it made me remember the fun and many benefits of working in-house or for a large agency.
Small agencies, or even the right consultant, can be the right fit for small companies -- and even some larger companies in a specific niche looking for a specific set of tasks to be handled by a specialist. But when it comes to covering the majority of your marketing efforts, in-house or larger agencies can be a much better fit.
In the case of a major company looking to have its organic and paid search covered, there's a need to have a group working on the job. If you add in social media and media buys, one person can't cover all this.
You need analytics, which means reports have to be pulled. You must test your messages, which means multiple creatives for PPC or banners need to be developed. Organic search needs all sorts of work, and by itself would monopolize even the most experienced people in this space. An individual would have to split time across all of these and try and cover in a month what would be the weekly tasks of a team.
A team also gives you a group to develop ideas from different viewpoints.
When I go to a conference, I spend hellish hours before the event to get in front, then sneak away to do a little each day to make sure things aren't going wrong, only to return to another week or two of sleep deprived days catching up again. Not conducive to your health.
But the aspect of in-house work many people overlook is the group camaraderie. An individual needs to find another outlet for the social interaction needed by us "social animals."
Being involved with a forum helps me, as does the time I spend daily on Twitter. I get the water cooler conversations, as well as reading recommendations and industry news.
But the banter between group members is an essential part of the team growing process. It keeps the energy levels high and the goals of each project on point.
Everyone has separate tasks, so prolonged distraction on any specific one won't happen in the group setting. While I have had a tendency to get determined to finish a single task, that can cause mismanaged time and long days.
So if you're making a decision about bringing something in-house or what type of outsourced help you need, consider the above. Building your own team may be a good idea. It comes with its own problems to overcome but can have long-term benefits.
If you're looking to get all your online marketing needs addressed outside your organization, then place your future in the hands of people who can address all your needs, but remember this will cost more than a part-time employee. Many times people think they can get all "this online stuff" covered for a small investment.
Think what a successful in-house team would cost you in salaries, benefits, etc. Think about the tools you would need to buy to track and analyze your efforts and all the other expenses. This is what you're investing in with an agency.