Mastering the Mix: The Art of Balancing In-House and Outsourced Marketing Services in Franchising

Mastering the Mix: The Art of Balancing In-House and Outsourced Marketing Services in Franchising

By Angela Paules, Chief Marketing Officer for Buzz Franchise Brands

 In the ever-evolving world of franchising, determining which marketing services to handle in-house and which to outsource is more than just a business decision; it’s an art form. And it’s something that has evolved over time at Buzz Franchise Brands, where we began as a small, emerging brand in 2012 and have since developed into four brands operating at different stages in the business lifecycle. No matter your situation, this article aims to provide insights and practical tips to help you paint a successful strategy for your marketing service mix. And while it’s geared toward marketing services, the same thought process can be used for just about any service or function you are seeking the best approach for.

The Basics

Let’s start by outlining a couple of key definitions. In-house services are the tasks and functions you manage within your organization, utilizing your employees and resources. Some of the benefits of in-house services may include:

  1. Greater control – you have 24/7 access to what’s going on with your account and can adjust or make changes quickly. Forget the back and forth and waiting on returned phone calls or emails.
  2. Better integration with your business – your team knows your business inside and out and can communicate easier with others across the company, whether to align marketing campaigns across different media or ensure your marketing and operations strategies are complementing each other effectively.
  3. A stronger team culture – the more franchisees can come to one place for support, the better; this helps build credibility and strengthens the relationship between your team and your franchisees.

Outsourcing on the other hand entrusts a part of your business to external partners. The main perks include:

  1. Specialized skillset – when you partner with an outside vendor, you are buying your way into an experienced individual or team with a track record of work under their belt.
  2. Redundancy – typically an outside partner will have staffing redundancy built in, so if an employee leaves there is someone else who can quickly step in to support.
  3. Cost – depending on the resources required, it may be more cost efficient to hire outside help.
  4. Time – Frees up your team to focus on core business activities.

The goal for any organization is to find the right balance of these – the sweet spot where efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and quality meet. And it won’t be the same for everyone.


If you’re reading this article, you may already have a specific consideration in mind. If not, start by making a list of all the functions or services you need and are looking to determine whether to handle in-house or outsource. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your company’s situation?
    Whether you’re an emerging brand with a small team or a multi-brand company with the opportunity to share resources across brands will certainly influence your decision on what to outsource. With our first brand, we outsourced most of our marketing services because we had a marketing department of one (me). But as our system grew, so did our team, and we began investing in bringing more in-house. With the addition of new brands, it made even more sense to invest in in-house services, as we could share those resources across brands and truly leverage some of the above benefits.
  • How often do you need these services?
    For example, if you’re considering whether or not to bring photography in-house, do you have enough work to justify the cost of a full-time, salaried employee on staff, or is it more cost efficient to hire a photographer a few times a year for specific initiatives or events?
  • What skillsets and resources do you currently have? What are you willing to invest in?
    It’s important to know your strengths. Do you have the necessary expertise and resources in-house? If not, outsourcing can fill those gaps. For example, outsourcing public relations allows you to leverage an agency that has years of media relationships already built.
  • What technological requirements or resources are needed to manage the service?
    Certain marketing services may require technical support or an accompanying investment in software to support the service. For example, if you plan to bring graphic design in-house, you will need to equip your creatives are with the appropriate design software. Depending on the volume of work, you may also need project management software to keep their work organized and track production. Make sure you are very clear on the needs before you decide your path to avoid any unexpected costs or roadblocks.
  • What is your timeline?
    If you need to move quickly, or your company is under rapid expansion, outsourcing can be faster than trying to hire a new employee(s) or train someone on a new skillset. Of course, you should always allow the time to do due diligence on any partners you sign on to work with as well. Talk to their clients and make sure they align with your brand values and expectations.
  • Have you considered all the risks?
    Before moving forward with your decision, anticipate any challenges surrounding the specific function. If you’re thinking of bringing something in-house, what is going on with the labor market? Is your team remote or in-office? If you’re leaning toward outsourcing, are there outsourced options/partners you feel good about? What type of commitment or contracts are involved? And in either case, how difficult or easy would it be to change course later?


Navigating the world of in-house versus outsourced services in franchising is no small feat. It’s about striking the right balance between control and flexibility, cost and quality, immediate needs and long-term goals. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Each franchise system is unique, and so too will be your blend of in-house and outsourced services. And keep in mind, you can shift the mix over time as circumstances change.

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