Creative Partner VS In-House Team

We speak about the advantages and challenges of working with a creative partner vs an in-house team.

By Sean Masters
Friday, February 21st, 2020
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 51 seconds.

In our recent Creative Partner Series, we asked senior marketing professionals for their thoughts on working with a creative partner, looking at both the challenges and the advantages.

A good question raised was, “Do you get better outcomes from an industry specialist creative partner or in-house team, who know the industry inside out, or a creative partner who has developed their skillset across multiple markets?”

As the latter in this question, this got us thinking, what are the advantages and challenges?

There’s no denying that different markets work in different ways. Some are vastly forward thinking and innovative, others are… let’s say, more traditional and slower paced. And then there’s a whole ream of those in between.

Understanding customers and the best way to engage with them is a vital part of any marketing strategy. But so too is the knowledge and skill needed to develop and execute a successful marketing strategy. Therefore, could it be argued that it’s easier to learn specific customer drivers than it is to learn universal marketing techniques?


I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “everyone’s a marketer”. We come across it regularly. And to be fair, it can be a challenging career, with peers and departments thinking they know how to do it, and perhaps feel it’s very easy too. The reality is that marketing, this amorphous, hard to pin-down function, that sits with an organisation, is often misunderstood, frequently misused and underfunded. Yet marketing has a power to propel brands to the next level.

With so many channels and so many variables, the best marketers don’t just bring an educated skillset to their job, they bring experience. Without a magic formula to get it right (we wish there was one), it’s a matter of marginal gains, with lessons constantly being learnt to adapt and thrive, enabling everyone to produce a sharper, more honed approach.

Fresh eyes

There are many creative partners (agencies) out there with sector specialisms, and when matched with a strong skillset, it can be a powerful advantage. However, we believe this can also be a limiter. Being so focused can inhibit experience that can be gained elsewhere.

Having a fresh pair-of-eyes means that sectors are viewed and tackled anew. There is no danger of introducing new ways of solving old problems. Instead, the customer, the sector, trends and nuances all have to be researched and seen from a new perspective. In doing so, there’s little chance of falling into a rut. As long as the skillset and experiences are developed enough to be able to adapt, then the power here has the potential to be immense.

Business preference

We understand that deep knowledge and experience in a specific sector cannot be gained from a few weeks or months of research. Being immersed in how something works is a huge benefit, especially to marketing. This is the best way for a marketer to truly connect with their customers. But all too often it can come down to a choice of what’s best, especially when searching for the right creative partner. Getting someone who ticks every ‘specialism’ box doesn’t necessarily get the best results.

In truth, this will probably remain an open debate and is likely to come down to the preferences of the organisation and sector. But for us, breath is best.

But, having worked with many brands across many sectors, the excitement of a fresh challenge keeps us on our toes and fights off mediocrity; always reaching for our arsenal of experience and ongoing-learning.

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