Are you getting the best from your marketing spend? In this round-up, we share the typical barriers in-house teams face when optimising their resource, along with actionable advice for making the most out of your investments.

The challenge many marketers are facing this year is not so much in ‘getting it right’ when it comes to their strategy, but rather in squeezing the most value they can out of the resource and investment they’re using.

In a recent panel discussion led by The GO! Network, in-house marketers from industry-leading businesses came together to share the typical barriers marketing decision makers can face when optimising their resource, along with actionable advice for getting the best from your investments.

In this round-up of the session, we’ve compiled the key learnings from our brand leaders, how to evaluate the options available for in-house, freelance, and agency support on key areas of your strategy, and best practise advice on getting the very best from your external marketing resource and budget.

Our brand leaders:

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In this Article:

  • When to review your agency and in-house marketing ecosystem
  • Key considerations when building a marketing function
  • Measuring performance with agency partners


When to review your agency and in-house marketing ecosystem

By evaluating your resource and identifying clear objectives, businesses can focus their marketing efforts on activities that are most likely to drive growth and achieve desired outcomes, with minimum loss on investment.

From limited budgets to an ever-evolving digital landscape and increased market competition – how do you know it’s time to review your marketing resource?

Assessing your Strategy Timelines

As Ben Rhodes, Brand Director at Phoenix Group shares, “there are two main triggers that have made me evaluate my resources, first is around our business planning cycle – thinking three to five years ahead on what you’re looking to achieve with your strategy, then identifying whether you have the right resources and capabilities to meet that expectation.”

Reviewing your Cost vs. Performance Outcomes

Ben continues, “the other is after a cost efficiency audit on your processes, supply base, invoice etc. to recognise where and how you can make your money stretch a lot further and operate in much more efficient way.”

Lee Grunnell, Chief Marketing Officer at Womble Bond Dickinson adds, “if you notice that you’re not delivering the performance that you should be – assess why that might be.

Is it because the structure isn’t quite set up correctly? Is it because you don't have the right skills in the team? Is it because you’re focusing on the wrong areas? You can then begin to reorientate your strategy and resources after identifying the possible cause of underperforming.”

Change in Leadership

Liz Bleakley, Head of PR and Comms at St Pierre Groupe shares that, “a change in leadership or key stakeholders tends to have a significant impact on the resources and investment put behind your marketing strategy.

Where you might have someone come in who's passionate about marketing and understands the power of it – on the flip side, you might have a change in leadership where that enthusiasm isn't there, making the job for your in-house team but also your agency partners a little bit harder.”

7 Ways to Get Genuine Stakeholder Buy-in for your Marketing Strategy

Keeping up with the Competition

Matthew Court, Senior SEO Manager at Auto Trader UK flags, “there's an ever-changing landscape of what is right to do and what is considered bad practice in the world of marketing, especially in the organic space.

So, having an agency partner who is entrusted to share that knowledge and flag any emerging trends they might find is always a good approach to framing your resources.

Furthermore, our competitive landscape is changing daily, so knowing the emerging competitors who are in your space and what they're delivering can ultimately help shape your strategy.”

Our 2024 Industry Pulse Check on Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities to Shape your Strategy

Key Considerations when Building a Marketing Function

So, you understand a change is needed when it comes to your marketing resource – but the process of making changes to your existing ecosystem can be time-consuming. How do you make sure you’re making the right decisions for your business?

In-house Control vs. External Support

As Ben shares, “in today's digital world, there are so many different channels and platforms to utilise, making it difficult to outsource everything.

You must look to find that balance between in-house control and external support, especially as you go through different economic cycles.

So, looking at that total cost of ownership of bringing people in-house, training them, and their longevity value against seeking an agency partner in certain areas and the various benefits you'll get from working with them.”

Reflecting your Purchase Funnel

Lee says, “the guiding principle to building a marketing function should be based on how the market buys your product or service – what does your external research say about the purchase funnel, and then reflecting your team structure to be aligned to that.

Once you have established what that purchase funnel looks like, you can start to think about; the right strategy for these different markets, the right tactics and delivery channels to utilise, and which of those you want to keep in-house or outsource.”

Finding the Right Agency Support

Once you’re aware that changes need to be made to your existing marketing ecosystem, how do you ensure that any time spent on sourcing new external partners is going to drive positive results?

Matthew says, “the main consideration for us is finding a marketing agency that can deliver on the set goals we have in mind.

Once we get to that equilibrium of where we want to be, it’s about ensuring the agency team is fully embedded into our culture, our values, and works as an extension of our team, as opposed to another resource that we pay monthly for.”

A Detailed Marketing Brief

When it comes to ‘going live’ with a new marketing requirement, Liz highlights the importance of constructing a detailed brief when going to market for external support.

“There are a few questions you should answer before starting that process:

  • What is the goal of appointing an agency?
  • What does success look like for you?
  • What results are going to bring key stakeholders onboard?
  • Do you need prior support in identifying the results you want to achieve?
  • What expertise are missing from your in-house team?
  • How important is team values to you when seeking external support?

If you don't put that time into the brief and avoid answering those key questions, the agency appointed could be set up to fail.”

Download: The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Digital Marketing Brief

Measuring performance with agency partners

Once you’ve made the decision to work with a new external agency partner, avoiding complacency is crucial to getting the most from your investment. Measuring the success of these partners against your set objectives on a regular basis allows you to consistently ensure performance expectations are being met.

Setting the right KPIs

As Lee says, “to oversimplify, we have a quarterly KPI dashboard that measures those key performance metrics against revenue and profit – so generally if those performance metrics are increasing in due course revenue is likely to follow.

Those KPIs then inform a wider set of KPIs for each of our agency reps.”

Liz adds, “if you’re setting KPIs or looking to measure the impact of your agency partners, build those in collaboration – they will know what’s achievable, and you will know what you need.

Furthermore, collaborate on tracking – smaller, less established businesses may not have the sophisticated dashboard set up to keep on top of those KPIs, which is an area your agency partner should support on.

Download: The Marketing Agency Evaluation Checklist

Performance Reviews and Open Communication

Ben emphasises the importance of having regular performance reviews to shape your activity, “we have a monthly review with our team to see if we’ve achieved the targets set at the beginning of the year.

Sometimes you may deliver, and other times you may come short, but the important thing is your tracking and making remedial actions based on that data.”

Matthew adds, “from the integration side, we like to have open communication channels with our agency partners to keep up dated on our marketing activity and performance.

There are various communication tools to help with that such as Slack – where you can message and respond almost instantaneously, as well as tag the relevant people involved in that certain area or project – as opposed to just using email, where key information can get lost.”


Make sure you're getting the most from your external marketing investments and resources. GO! offer cost-free agency recommendations, pitch management, and more - get in touch to get started.

Mathew Court:

Mathew Court is a seasoned marketing professional celebrated for his innovative strategies that propel business growth. With over a decade of experience, he specialises in digital marketing, brand management, and customer engagement, demonstrating a passion for staying ahead of market trends and achieving success through a results-oriented approach.

Lee Grunnell:

Lee has a diverse portfolio of experience gained in-house and consulting. Currently the interim CMO at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP, he started his professional services career in the global tax group at EY before joining DAC Beachcroft. After starting the virtual agency Thirteen, he delivered branding and positioning projects for the likes of Howard Kennedy, Moore Global and Buzzacott, the last of which won best rebrand at the 2019 Citywealth Brand Management & Reputation Awards.

He’s become known for exploring how the empirical evidence seen in B2C and B2B markets — particularly the work of Byron Sharp, Mark Ritson, Les Binet and Peter Field — translates to professional services. This often means challenging the industry orthodoxy on issues like the importance of client retention and cross-selling versus new client acquisition, the different ways marketing communications impact sales, and the importance of brand for long-term profitable growth.

Lee has long been a champion of marketers in the professions, serving as regional director of PM Forum’s London committee for three years. He also organised several of the forum’s national conferences, taking the opportunity to introduce the professional services marketing community to a range of leaders from wider fields of advertising, behavioural science, and market research.

Ben Rhodes:

Ben is an experienced marketer with a track record in delivering growth and turning around brands. Cutting his teeth in advertising back in the 90s, for a decade Ben worked on a number of high-profile brands and campaigns including Microsoft, JP Morgan and the launch of MORE TH>N.

Ben moved to MasterCard in 2005 where he led the award-winning Priceless advertising campaign for a number of years and launched contactless payments into the UK.

In 2010, Ben joined Royal Mail where he was responsible for marketing including insight, digital, content, social, CRM, performance and brand marketing communications. Ben held the position of Group Marketing Director for 3 years leading all marketing and digital activity.

In 2021 following a consultancy stint at GSK, Ben moved to Phoenix Group, the UK’s largest long term savings and retirement business, as their first ever Brand Director. Over the last 3 year’s Ben has been leading their brand transformation as a leading FTSE100 purpose-led organization.

Liz Bleakley:

Liz has considerable experience directing external communications for nationally renowned brands spanning food and drink, FMCG, automotive, consumer services and home improvements.

Previously a writer for Mirror Online and Senior Publicity Executive at Big Machine Agency, directing UK campaigns for global accounts across music, events, fashion and celebrity. Liz is now Strategic Director of PR & Communications for St Pierre Groupe - part of the Grupo Bimbo portfolio - leading on external communications across trade and consumer channels.

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