Is in-house marketing on the way out?

New research has found that traditional senior in-house and agency marketing roles may be on the way out.

According to the data gathered by virtual marketing management company ask Marketing, 47 per cent of SME CEOs and business leaders surveyed are looking to remove current in-house marketing roles and opt instead for outsourced, more cost-effective alternatives. The research reveals that nearly 30 per cent of SMEs have already shut down their entire marketing team.

The Why business leaders are turning to Virtual Marketing Management research is part of a recently-launched industry white paper that examines the possible future for marketing leadership in a post-COVID-19 world. It interviewed 100 Australian SME business founders, owners and leaders across a broad range of industries, with both a local and global presence, to understand their pre and post COVID-19 working arrangements. They were asked if their marketing activity was in-house or agency-led, and what the financial impact of the pandemic had been on this part of their operations.

The study also analysed existing qualitative and quantitative research from third parties such as Gartner and NAB, to provide insightful analysis regarding the future of marketing.

The report also aimed to introduce a new hybrid approach for marketing called Virtual Marketing Management (VMM) which combines both elements of agency-outsourced and 100 per cent in-house marketing models. According to ask Marketing, by leveraging the business’s internal junior marketing resources, VMM manages the marketing from within the business, offering up to 70 per cent cost savings compared to having an in-house digital marketing manager.

ask Marketing also explained that the VMM approach helps a business oversee the bigger picture strategy, but they will also have an in-house resource who works on the day-to-day execution, right where the action happens. It cited a survey of SME CEOs, in which 85 per cent believed that businesses will benefit from this Virtual Marketing Management approach.

“The pandemic has seen many organisations, particularly small businesses, reflect and question their marketing spend and consider where they can realistically cut costs without having a detrimental impact on their organisation’s ability to promote their products and services strategically whilst growing their brand,” Alexandra King, co-founder of ask Marketing, said.

“Virtual marketing management throws out the rule book, a new hybrid approach that aims to provide SMEs with the same level of marketing strategy and leadership as their corporate counterparts, for a fraction of the cost.”

“We’ve seen how many organisations are still in search of a ‘unicorn marketer’ – but the pandemic has forced many organisations to rethink,” King added. “We are now seeing a revolution as more business leaders embrace virtual marketing to continue to thrive in an uncertain future.”