Most of the big brand names have an in-house agency.
Think of Procter & Gamble, Kellog, and Nike. They all have internal teams that work on their brand development.
“It is easy for them,” you may say, referring to the fact that they have liberal budgets and can do whatever they want with their marketing campaigns and product development.
But building a successful in-house agency doesn’t have to depend on playing in the major league. With smart planning and risk-free managing your human resources with freelancers, you can build your internal digital agency and grow to win projects beyond your comfort zone.
Hiring freelancers is somewhere in-between the in-house vs. outsourcing approach to managing your offering, both of which have their advantages and disadvantages.
In the age when having a small in-house agency is a necessity, let’s explore how you can expand your team by taking the hybrid approach to building and scaling an agency.
What is an In-house Agency?
When people speak about in-house agencies, they primarily think of in-house advertising agencies.
An in-house advertising agency is an internal team dedicated to advertising the company’s product or service.
What makes an internal agency so special?
- The team is available, reliable, and loyal.
- You’ve got all the talent at your disposal.
- The vision and mission are clear.
- You have identified business goals.
- The targets are visible and measurable and common for the whole team.
However, we live in the age of content and software development explosion. In-house agency teams are asked to deal with the creative and media part of product development.
On the other hand, many small businesses focus on a specific product development area. They need creative partners to bring in the skills they miss. This additional ingredient can sometimes be just one or two people.
You can get requests for providing something that is out of your usual scope of work. Moreover, if you want to scale, you have to get off the beaten path and offer something new.
Pros and Cons of Having a Full-Service Internal Agency
The decision to scale is not that demanding if you know how to restructure your agency with freelancers. To do that effectively, you have to understand the benefits and the downsides of having a traditional in-house agency.
- Clients like building solid relationships and getting a reliable partner that delivers every time as promised.
- You can rely on your agency structure because you know everyone’s role in it.
- You keep data and knowledge inside and keep building on it while developing your unique in-house agency model.
- The in-house team is fully onboarded and comprises a substantial part of the workforce and the costs.
- The market is saturated with conventional agency approaches, while the demand for fresh resource management is rising.
- Startups and growing companies cannot afford to handle additional requests in-house. At the same time, they are exposed to extinction if they don’t respond to the shift in client expectations
- During crisis and major transformation, an in-house agency will take the fall with more significant damages.
As you can see, things are not that simple. Both agency models (if we can separate them so simply) have their advantages and disadvantages.
You can scale your team to a full-service agency by finding the middle ground between working in-house vs. outsourcing services with freelancers.
It all comes down to how you structure your agency, build work processes, and manage people and workflows.
Reinvent the in-house agency canvas by adding a digital layer to it.
As a result, you get to choose how and to what extent you expand your internal team with freelance talent.
Organizational Structure of a Hybrid In-house Agency
This hybrid agency is a blend of both models: in-house and completely outsourced. Here is the method to do it:
1. Bring onboard the talent you need for full roles.
Examples of such roles include project managers, product managers, a scrum master, and QA engineers.
2. Outsource smaller and short-term roles to freelancers.
Complete the in-house offering by hiring a software developer with a specific skill, for instance, a Shopify developer. Hire a social media manager to take care of Facebook marketing. Ask for someone to handle an out-of-the-blue advertising campaign for a few hours per week.
3. Base your recruitment process on skills.
Look for mastery instead of hiring people. Identify pieces of work and the skills needed for that job to be completed and expand your company on a service-based model.
4. Build an accountability-based hierarchy.
Encourage employee ownership. Ownership is the missing secret ingredient that is an issue for CEOs of agencies that want to scale. Ownership includes clarity and transparency about the business goals of all parties, regardless of the length of the relationship; it is about the strength of the relationship that you personify as a leader.
In this way, you would have built your hybrid freelance agency scheme. Later, you can add or remove roles as needed.
When you have a functional virtual team template of this kind aligned with strategy and objectives, you can use technology to support it.
You can handle any new client request with a solid hybrid model by establishing transparent project workflows.
An elastic agile team structure can be a solution to this old agency problem of rigid workflows. You can modify team structure to fit in your current agency situation by setting clear agile processes for freelancers:
In-house vs. Outsourcing with Freelancers: Why Not Both?
Working with freelancers helps you get a clear overview of the hours (and the budget) that may be draining if you hire a full-service external agency.
There are tools to measure and analyze how wisely you have invested in talent, including high performance, a sense of a virtual team, and goal alignment.
Instead of biting too much and risking too much with an external agency, you can build a flexible internal team that can respond in a changing environment characterized by rapid technological and social change.
Remote work hides a big benefit. Introduce a new digital leadership system and get access to global talent.
Learn to grow and scale your business with virtual teams and global freelancers with our FREE Virtual Team Starter Pack!