The Marketer's In-House Episode 1: In-House Marketing vs. DIY Marketing


Welcome to the first episode of our new podcast, The Marketer’s In-House! This is the podcast for helping you do more marketing in-house, and more effective in-house marketing.

On our first episode, we talk about the difference between In-House Marketing and what we call “DIY marketing,” how you can keep quality high within your in-house marketing team, and some ideas you can borrow from how creative agencies keep coming up with great work.

Listen to the episode here.

You can subscribe to The Marketer’s In-House on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or RSS.


Episode 1: In-House Marketing vs. DIY Marketing

Jessica: Hello everyone, and welcome to The Marketer’s In-House Podcast. This is Jessica, from Wedding Whisperer.

Joel: And this is Joel, from The Family Knife. How are you doing today?

Jessica: Good, how are you doing buddy?

Joel: Pretty good! It’s a Monday, which is when we record, but I’m feeling good. We just recorded another episode about being productive, so I’m feeling super motivated! Haha

Jessica: Yeah! I’m feeling very productive! What’s been going on at The Family Knife?

Joel: We have been teaching a client several different marketing skills. So we’re bringing in their digital team and getting them trained up on a few different skills, like video marketing, Google Ads and social media. That’s kind of what we’ve been focused on for the last couple weeks.

Jessica: How’s that going?

Joel: Really good! It’s been fun! I really like teaching, I really like helping people do more than they thought they could before, so that’s been really fun! And I just think there’s so much untapped potential within organizations’ marketing teams, so much institutional knowledge and expertise that just needs to be unleashed with some extra skill sets, so I’ve been really excited about that!

Jessica: What a good segue into our topic for the podcast today!

Joel: Which is…

Jessica: All about in-house marketing! I think we should start off with what is in-house marketing?

Joel: Yeah! So my definition for in-house marketing is pretty basic: it’s essentially the set of marketing activities that happens within an organization, so whether that’s your social media, your advertising, your public relations, anything that’s focused on marketing your business that happens within the four walls of your organization, that isn’t being out-sourced to an agency or consultants or some third party. Everything that happens within your marketing team.

Jessica: That’s amazing. So that is basically what The Family Knife is all about—empowering people to do!

Joel: Exactly. Exactly what we do is help people change, help businesses do more of their own marketing in-house. We say take control of your marketing so that the strategy and the direction is coming from where the institutional knowledge is, which is inside of your organization vs being dictated from an outside party.

Jessica: Absolutely. No one knows your company like you and your employees do.

Joel: Yeah! There are things that other companies know more about, and we’ll talk about that. You know, there are other companies that might know more about advertising than your organization, or know more about Public Relations than your organization does, but your business nobody knows more. So focus your efforts where you have the most strength and expertise.

Jessica: I know you have some really big thoughts about in-house marketing, three big ones you wanted to touch on.

Joel: Yeah!

Jessica: So let’s jump right in! What’s your first?

Joel: My first one is breaking down the definition a little bit, and putting a distinction between in-house marketing and what we would call DIY marketing.

Jessica: Right. I hate when the two are used interchangeably.

Joel: And if in-house marketing has a negative connotation in some people’s minds, it’s because of DIY marketing. And so that difference is: In-House Marketing is marketing done by marketing professionals within the appropriate skills, tools and processes; but they’re doing it within the client organization. DIY Marketing is someone who is not a marketing professional, doesn’t have the skills, or doesn't have enough of those skills still doing the marketing, still doing ads, still doing videos, still doing PR, but it’s usually business owners themselves or junior team members who are handed social media and said “Hey you’re young, go do social media.”

Jessica: “Hey you must know how to do this!”

Joel: That’s DIY marketing. That’s what watching a YouTube video and going “I can figure that out!” and going for it. Which sometimes is great! Some DIY marketing is amazing. And some small companies and business owners can do amazing work because they’re just creative and they don’t know all the rules and are willing to break them! But often, especially when it’s large organizations, DIY marketing just gives you a bad look. And I think that’s really the big difference.

So In-House marketing, I think, and what we try to do with our clients, is give them those skills, those tools and processes so it’s not DIY marketing—it is handled by their internal marketing professionals who know what they’re doing. THey just now have, with our guidance or with some of the documents we may provide, the cheat sheets that we make, they’re able to do more, or they’re able to do something better than they were before, and now they are empowered to really take that institutional knowledge, apply it to their marketing and do greater things than any third party ever could.

Jessica: Right. So, what is the worst DIY Marketing you’ve ever seen?

Joel: haha! I don’t know why, but it’s always bus ads.

Jessica: ahahah!

Joel: Every bus you see has a clear DIY marketing bus ad on it. ANd it’s something, it’s always got a question, I don’t know—I don’t want to call anyone out on this, but look at any bus ad and it’s definitely DIY. It’s four faces from a law firm. That’s what it is.

Jessica: haha!

Joel: That’s DIY marketing, that’s what it is. It’s never telling you why you should work for this company, it’s a list of services, four faces, and a weird call to action, and a phone number!

Jessica: haha!

Joel: And I think that’s when, when we say in-house marketing, and people gasp, or take a step back, it’s because they’re connecting “oh I saw that crappy bus ad” and no, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about great marketing done within an organization.

Jessica: Right. And by an expert.

Joel: Which gets into my second point: which is that marketing is a profession. Anyone who is not in marketing is going “no, its not.” (laughter)

Jessica: ahhah. Right, you’re just on Instagram all day!

Joel: Haha, exactly. But those of us that do this every day, and who have to sometimes looks at DIY marketing, you know that it is a profession, it is a real skill that can be learned, but that must be learned! So I think that’s especially like craft skills, like writing and design are things that you can’t fake an ability in. You really need to have spent the time or have some amazing innate talent that most of us don’t have to really get good at that.

Jessica: So, managers, they see the benefit of in-house marketing. They know they want to go that direction. But they don’t have anyone on their team who has a marketing background, what do they do?

Joel: I don’t think I’m going to have any great revelation here, but its look at your marketing budget and perhaps some of that marketing budget should go towards hiring that person. There are great generalists out there, who can take all of your marketing to the next level. THey might not be the best video producer in the world, they might not be the best social media person in the world, but someone who has spent a few years in marketing has tried their hand at a few different skills is probably a pretty good hire. Generalist are really great for first hires on a marketing team, to get everything just a little bit closer to where it needs to be. Then you can start bringing in specialists. After you’ve got a good generalist, bring in your social media specialist, someone who has been doing this for five to ten years. Ten years is, Twitter has been around since 2006—ten years is not a crazy amount of time to expect that someone has been doing social media marketing. Videos and TV ads are not something a generalist should be doing. Not like super high production, high value video production—that’s something you bring in help with.

Jessica: Right!

Joel: A video to go on social media or to go on your website, or to even be a YouTube ad, might be something that a specialist in-house could be doing for you.

Jessica: Right. Because there are some things that absolutely should not be done in house, and where you should bring in the pros.

Joel: Exactly! Just like, literally any other profession, there are some things that someone with a few years’ experience can totally do. I consider it the difference between painting your kitchen cabinets vs doing your plumbing. One of those is something that someone who is pretty good can do a pretty good job on, and one is something someone who is pretty good could make a big mess out of. So there should definitely be that breakdown of what’s done in-house and what is done by a third party. But for the most part, just think about hiring a great generalist, hire some good specialists and work with a consultancy—whether that’s a consultancy like ours or there are other businesses out there that can help organizations do more marketing in-house, and actually look at the resources at your disposal.

What we often do is look around a client’s organization and let them know that they have a lot more talent than they thought. As the outside consultant, we can see things from another perspective. We might be able to tell you, “you know what, this person has a great talent for this that you haven’t seen yet. They haven’t felt empowered to take the initiative.”

Jessica: Right! Or they have a great interest that you can foster and train them up on.

Joel: Exactly! So that gets into, speaking of training people up, my third point: to do more you have to know more.

That seems like a basic point, but it’s true. To be a great marketer, to do great in-house marketing, you need to be reading constantly. You need to make constant improvements. Everything good in life is iterative. It’s one step, one foot after another, it’s not going from zero to 100. So you have to learn and keep advancing.

Jessica: Yes! Even people who work in an agency, and their background is marketing, or they have training and tons of experience, they are constantly reading blogs, listening to podcasts, doing classes. They’re always itching to learn more and stay ahead of the fold.

Joel: That’s the big thing! Sometimes you might think that an agency could be more creative or they have a better specialty than you have in-house. Often that is true, and the reason that is true is exactly what you’re saying: they’re simply spending more time doing this. They’re spending less time in meetings and more time in their craft. So if you want to get better, if you want your team members to get better, you need to have more time to work on that craft. You can’t learn a skill in a meeting! And you can only learn a skill by doing it. So, if you want more skills, if you want more capabilities on your team, those people need to have the time and the training to focus on that.

And that’s really my three major points. Which unless you had any other thoughts there, I think we can run into Confessions!

Jessica: Yeah! I think it’s time for Confessions!

Now it’s time for Confessions: we answer the in-house marketing questions you’ve been afraid to ask.

Jessica: Why is there a perception that in-house marketing design teams are less creative over time than external vendors and agencies?

Joel: So I kind of touched on this a little bit, but the big thing being they’re spending more time doing it. What else do you think is a cause for this perception?

Jessica: I think really that DIY Marketing, and seeing that out there in the universe, is people’s first thought on it, for sure.

Joel: Yeah, I think that’s big. And agencies are seen as, the one that is probably the strongest force here, is that your agency, the person at your agency doesn’t know all the rules, they don’t know all the reasons why something isn’t going to get approved. So they’re coming to you with more creative, innovative ideas because they don’t have the layers of approvals, or in some cases, the word is bureaucracy. Or the layers of “that’s not how we do it here”, which your organization might have all of those things. Your team might not seem as creative as an outside team because they might just know, this idea isn’t going to get approved, so I’m not even going to work on it. And that is, I think, super de-motivating for two reasons: your team definitely knows when something has been outsourced because you thought they could do a better job of it. They feel that. And they feel everything we’re saying, of the only reason they did a better job is because they presented something we would never have gotten away with. Like that happens all the time. I would be at an agency, presenting work, and the client would be like “I know this isn’t going to get approved,” and then it gets approved! And they’re shocked! (laughter and impersonations)

So my biggest thing here is: if you have a lot of those rules in place, where sometimes overly “creative work” doesn’t get approved for whatever reason, maybe you have a CEO who doesn’t like the color blue, like these things happen! We know they happen! Every once in a while, really really fight for your team, get something approved that breaks a rule. Demand work that does break rules, that you know isn’t going to get approved, but you expect to see it!

Jessica: Give that opportunity to your staff. To just communicate their ideas as crazy as it may seem. I think the great thing about an agency is that there’s a sense of community and creativity, so there’s a lot of different brainstorming, and no idea is a bad idea. And I think bringing that culture into your company can be really helpful for your marketing team to feel like they can speak up, they can throw ideas out there. A lot of them may not work, but one may be that gem that gets pushed through.

Joel: To give you an example of things agencies do to be more creative: I’ve worked at many different agencies over my career, I’ve seen lots of great things like if a new logo has to be designed, one of the Creative Directors that I worked with, he would have his whole design team submit a logo, without names on them, and they would be judged kind of objectively, just based on the logo, and everyone got to do something crazy, everyone got to do something a little bold because they knew if theirs didn’t get picked, no big deal.

So one thing I’d say, is when work is being presented at your office, as often as possible, try to take the names off of it. Try to just observe the work. You might be preferencing some employees over others without knowing it. Or some people might be scared to show you something if they think you’re not going to like it.

Jessica: Right, or to give their true criticism if its a particular co-worker.

Joel: So steal some ideas from super creative agencies! Do what they do, which is, I’m going to use the “m” word—they’re having fewer meetings than you are. That’s probably the biggest change, that’s the biggest difference between their organization and your organization—it’s the number of meetings they’re attending. Like I said: you can’t learn a new skill in a meeting, so you really need to be focused on the work. If you want creative work, you need to let your people spend time on creative work and being creative.

Jessica: Right. So let’s go over to our key take-aways:

And here are the key take-aways from this week’s episode:

Jessica: So one of my big ones is having a community in your office that fosters creativity, and acknowledging people’s strengths and giving them the opportunity to pursue those strengths and learn more about that speciality so they can really take the reins and have the education that they need to move forward.

Joel: And my key take-away is really, to get better you have to do more; you have to practice, and that’s kind of a bummer of everything! Haha! I’m learning to play a new instrument, I’m taking lessons and having to practice and it’s kind of wild as an experience...the connection between practice and skill. It’s the same in your business! The things you work on are the things you get better at. So if you want your team to be more creative, or if you want your team to be able to do more, or if you want your in-house marketing to look a little less like DIY marketing, you’ve got to do more of it. You’ve got to spend the time on it, on the training and the tools.