Now that it’s 2021, what new plans do you have for your in-house agency (IHA)?

Is it better equipment, new staff or expanded services? Do you want to reposition your team and become the strategic partner you always knew your team could be? Just how high should you shoot for and what’s occurring in our industry that may impact your plans?

Take the first steps toward becoming a more adaptable in-house agency.

Since the 3-part blog series, The New In-House Agency Success Story: Adapt or Die explored the 12 best practices areas that in-house creative teams must master to stay relevant, there have been major shifts in the business environment demanding a pivot on the part of in-house agencies. Just what new shifts and focus must in-house teams take on to truly service their host companies and clients? Well today there are 3 that stand out as critical – a move to digital marketing platforms, enhanced account services and better integration with marketing groups.

What’s driving the push towards digital marketing and what does this mean for IHAs?

Certainly, the Covid pandemic has accelerated a move to digital, but it’s really been the proliferation and extensive use of multiple platforms and devices that’s the real driver. People now get their information from and engage in social interactions through online media and that’s where marketers are now putting the majority of their efforts.  The level of analytics available through digital marketing affords them maximum impact with targeted spend. This means IHAs who already create the assets for online marketing need to up their game and stay on the cutting edge of new digital content delivery solutions, many of which use AI and DCO to create individualized content for specific audiences.

How and why are IHA’s leveraging their account services teams to bring added value to their clients?

Simply put, as marketing becomes ever more sophisticated and complex, the collaboration between clients and creatives needs to become more robust and nuanced. With more higher tier assignments coming into IHAs, the need for account team members who can understand and then translate marketing direction from clients for the creative teams is critical. They can help their clients with tactical marketing plans, while anticipating the execution of the projects by the IHA. They are the bridge between Marketing and IHAs.

When is the right time for IHAs to participate in the marketing process?

The answer is far upstream from the execution of the initiative – really at the point at which strategy is being fleshed out. This requires a level of integration not previously seen between marketing and creative teams. Options for where and how to market products and services have increased dramatically in recent years as has the level of unique and targeted messaging driven by analytics and enhanced customer insights. This all impacts how marketing is executed and with the addition of creative strategists to the IHAs’ roster of account services talent, creative teams can influence strategy early in the process in a way that sets campaigns up for success.

Now as we move into the new year with all the possibility it has to offer, it’s time to take another look at adaptability through the lens of the 3 opportunities noted above among many others. Why? Because adaptability is one of the most neglected foundational pillars of in-house agencies, even though it may have the single greatest impact on your team’s future success.

So, here are the questions: Are you ready for 2021? Does your team have the agility and adaptability you’ll need for tomorrow, and beyond? Are you ready for the digital revolution and the need for marketing integration?

In-house agencies have come a long way, but the business and marketing needs of our companies as well as the technology landscape are changing so quickly that we really must proactively assess where and how our team currently fits into the marketing ecosystem of our organizations and where we need to be 1, 3 and even 5 years down the road.
The checklist will help you assess if you have the infrastructure, talent, processes, partnerships, management and technology needed to seize all the longed-for opportunities that are headed your way.

The question of “Are you agile enough?” is uncovered by assessing how proficient you are in the 12 areas that are critical drivers of adaptability. The Self-Assessment Checklist covers factors ranging from flexible staffing models to mission statements, defining the value that each one contributes to your team’s agility.

For example, to support more sophisticated digitally focused marketing initiatives that are now the norm, IHAs must be able to quickly flex staff up for campaign launches with extra talent brought in on an as needed basis. This has become easier with the adoption by many companies of remote work, expanding your reach to include not only domestic resources but international ones as well. In addition, these same campaigns may need you to tap into creative professionals who possess skills and expertise that don’t currently reside in your team and are only needed sporadically.

Less tactical, but equally as important, a well-defined triad of the in-house agency’s Mission, Vision and Value Proposition can be the North Star that guides team culture and its behaviors. They set the expectation that adaptability and continuous improvement should be the mindset of every associate, and that their activities and performance should be aligned with this culture.

In the day-to-day churn of an in-house agency, it’s easy to lose sight of the strategic improvement opportunities that are available to us. As you kick off the new year, we hope that this article will serve as a valuable asset in continuing your quest for greater adaptability in 2021.

Here's to your success in the new year!