Revenue Rehab: It's like therapy, but for marketers
Feb. 8, 2023

In-House vs Outsourced: The Debate

This week our host Brandi Starr is joined by B2B marketing leader, Adi B. Reske. Adi has many years of experience as a B2B marketing leader, she is an entrepreneur with a love of coffee and traveling and is an aspiring birthday cake baker living in...

This week our host Brandi Starr is joined by B2B marketing leader, Adi B. Reske.

Adi has many years of experience as a B2B marketing leader, she is an entrepreneur with a love of coffee and traveling and is an aspiring birthday cake baker living in Boston, MA.

In this week’s episode of Revenue Rehab, join Brandi and Adi on the couch as they discuss a hot topic in marketing; In-House vs Outsourced: The Debate.

Bullet Points of Key Topics + Chapter Markers:

  • Topic #1 In-House vs. Outsourced [05:47] You really need to evaluate your core expertise, Adi advises. Consider your inhouse knowledge and available talent and resources.  Can outsourcing facilitate freeing up time to focus on campaigns or tasks that require intimate domain knowledge?  Or is that domain knowledge critical to the success of your email marketing, for example.
  • Topic #2 Capacity and Cost [14:28] How big is your team? How will this affect your budget? These factors are critical to evaluating capacity vs cost. For example, quality outsourced talent usually can hit the ground running, says Adi. This means a faster ramp up to start executing which should be considered with regards to cost and resources when evaluating in-house vs outsourcing.
  • Topic #3 Evaluating the ‘ROI’ of In-House vs. Outsourcing [24:36] Adi emphasizes that this particularly is where the decisioning tree she mentioned comes into play. Since marketing is one of the most diverse spaces in business, she says, knowing your team and their talents and expertise, will help you determine where you have a gap and if that gap could be better served by outsourcing.

So, What's the One Thing You Can Do Today?

“Make a list of your core expertise”, says Adi. “What are the core skills that you have right now, top three, four, five in your team? And then what are the gaps that you have in order to hit your goals this year and next year?” This is the ideal starting point to evaluating whether in-house or outsourcing can best help you accomplish those goals.

Buzzword Banishment:

Adi’s Buzzword to Banish are the acronyms MQL, SQL, PQL. “I just want to propose to go back to basics” says Adi. “How about just leads, opportunities, closed one or closed last? I think that we don't need more abbreviations”.


Get in touch with Adi B. Reske on:

Subscribe, listen, and rate/review Revenue Rehab Podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts , Amazon Music, or iHeart Radio and find more episodes on our website


[0:05] Intro:   

Welcome to Revenue Rehab, your one stop destination for collective solutions to the biggest challenges faced by marketing leaders today. Now head on over to the couch, make yourself comfortable and get ready to change the way you approach revenue. Leading your recovery is modern marketer, author, speaker and Chief Operating Officer at Tegrita, Brandi Starr. 

[0:33] Brandi Starr:   

Hello, hello, hello and welcome to another episode of Revenue Rehab. I am your host Brandi Starr, and we have another amazing episode for you today, I am joined by Adi Reski. Adi is an experienced b2b marketing leader, an entrepreneur, a coffee lover, a world traveler and an inspiring birthday cake baker living in Boston. Welcome to Revenue Rehab, your session begins now.

[1:04] Adi Reske:   

Thank you, thank you for having me. 

[1:07] Brandi Starr:   

I am happy to have you; an aspiring birthday cake baker is definitely a unique one. So that that is super exciting. I was going to say now I'm going to be craving cake for the rest of the day.

[1:23] Adi Reske:   

My kids know that before their birthday, they get to go on Pinterest, then find all these crazy ideas for cakes and Mom will attempt to create one that looks as beautiful as this one

[1:38] Brandi Starr:   

That is amazing. That kind of artistic talent is something that I don't possess. But every time I see those cakes, it's just crazy, how realistic they look or how creative they get with the things coming out of them and all the amazing things that you can do with icing. So super, super cool. But before we jump into really talking about our topic, I always like to break the ice with a woosah moment that I call buzzword banishment. So Adi, tell me what buzzword would you like to get rid of forever?

[2:20] Adi Reske:   

I like to propose three: MQL, SQL, PQL; you're probably going to ask me what's PQL? 

[02:28] Brandi Starr:

That one I know, Product Qualified Lead. 

[02:30] Adi Reske:

Good! I just want to propose to go back to basics. How about just leads, opportunities, closed one or closed last. I think that we don't need more abbreviations, we don't need more -- Especially in sales and marketing, what is an MQL? What do you qualify it by/? How? If somebody got into the product, the PQL, surely they came through inbound. It's just really not needed. I like to go back to basics I like you know to be measured by good leads, good opportunities, closed/lost, super easy.

[3:17] Brandi Starr:   

I was going to say yeah, as if PQL wasn't new enough, now we have CQLs for the community qualified leads because community led growth is now another hot buzzword. So I do agree, and there's so much debate around you know all of the QLs and what we call them. And to your point, it really is just a lead. So I'm with you, I'm good to put the acronyms into the box. We'll keep the L

[03:54] Adi Reske:

Go back to basics.

[03:56] Brandi Starr:

And throw away the beginning letters. So we'll just keep the leads. Awesome! So now that we've gotten that off our chest, I asked you to join me today to talk about in-house versus outsourced when it comes to marketing and different components of marketing. As a consultants where our bread and butter is companies who outsource their marketing operations and email marketing to us, obviously, I have a strong affinity for outsourcing certain things. But this is something that as I talk to other CMOs and heads of marketing, that there is a little bit of a debate and in some cases it's not a clear line around which is better, if it's a blend of both, etc. And so thank you for joining me to talk about this and get another perspective as well. And before we like dive all the way in, I believe in setting intentions. It gives us focus, it gives us purpose and most important, it gives our audience an understanding of what they should expect from our conversation today. So I'd love to hear what's your intention for our discussion? What would you like people to take away?

[5:17] Adi Reske:   

I'd like people to take away that kind of decisioning tree or decisioning mechanism to decide when to outsource and when to insource, and at which point the company is or the marketing organization, and have that kind of decisioning tree.

[5:41] Brandi Starr:   

Okay, perfect. And I think that's a great place to dive in. So I'll start with the generic question of what's your opinion on in-house versus outsourced?

[5:57] Adi Reske:   

So I've been working in the past probably seven years been working for small startups, anything from 0 revenue to $30 or $40 million. And when you start, normally in this space, you come in as a head of marketing, usually kind of marketeer number one, and they have a bunch of agencies that they use, because the CEO just simply cannot do everything. And that's when you start asking yourself, What should I insource? What should I outsource? How much budget do I have? What will I get the best value? And so I'll give you some examples of small company in-source and outsource. I in-source, people who create content just because most companies are niche. Companies that sell open source project or technical products, companies that sells tech solutions, things that are very specific. It's very hard to outsource; the writing, the content creation to somebody who's never lived in this industry and doesn't have domain expertise in this industry. You really want somebody who lived and breathed that domain. And so I think when he comes to bringing content creation, blog writing, things of that nature, you probably want to in-source. But things like marketing automation, creating better workflow in your HubSpot, creating better dashboards to measure analytics and lead attribution, I found that, yes, can I do it? Of course, I can do it. But it takes such a long time. And it takes away from my core specialty, my core expertise, that it really doesn't make sense. And there are people out there, who if you sit down with them and explain to them what you want to see first thing in the morning in your lead attribution dashboard, or what do you need from a campaign automation perspective, workflows, that kind of thing, they do it very quickly. And it's kind of silly to spend all that time; or when you are working on a nice presentation, and you really want to make a good impression, have an outsource designer. Or if you need, you know, to make changes on the website, it's silly to spend time on it. There's so many things that you need to do as a startup marketeer that really you have to be careful. But then there are a few things that I've learned, new things that I've learned about in-sourcing and outsourcing. PR agencies, for example. I have noticed over the years, worked for large companies and normally if you're a large company you outsource PR to other companies. And I was disappointed most of the time by it. Just because most of the PR agencies bring people who are either junior or very marketing generalists; and so they don't understand your domain. And so what ends up happening is that you need to create the content for them and they need to find the people but they don't always know who are the publications that are important in your space. And I kept asking myself, is it really taking time away from me? I'm not sure. So PR agencies is one of these things that I think that if you're a small company, you probably better in-sourcing even part time, but insourcing versus, you know, paying 1015 grand a month to a PR agency, and then doing a lot of the work for them. This is something that I found was not very efficient. Video is another one. So a lot of companies say, I'll just outsource the video, that's easy. What do you need to do, you just need to create or edit a video. Anybody can do that. But in my last company, I've noticed that there is a huge SEO trend in video. And you get a lot [inaudible 10:58] for investment in video rather than in blogs. And I've decided to in-source a video producer. And that paid off, I couldn't even believe it. Because the more the video person understood our business, the more he was able to create more interesting videos, work with our domain experts, and create something that is really unique. Whereas when I outsource to video people in the past, I noticed that I had to create a script for them, and draw exactly what I need to happen. There was a ton of back and forth, back and forth. And essentially, I spend more time in producing the video. And when you have somebody in source, not only you can create more video, but the quality is a lot higher, because they understand your buyer. They understand what you're trying to do. And they can propose things on their own because they understand it better. So this was something that I've discovered on in-source and outsource recently.

[12:09] Brandi Starr:   

So what I'm hearing is where there is that domain expertise, where that plays a key role, those are the places where you want to keep it in house, where you've got someone that is living and breathing that on a day to day and can take all of those learnings, industry knowledge, all of those things, and put that into their work. 

[12:35] Adi Reske:

That's right. 

[12:36] Brandi Starr:

And then on the opposite side, where there are things that are labor intensive, less domain knowledge required, those are the opportunities to outsource.

[12:50] Adi Reske:   

Yeah. That's what I have found over the years. But again, it really also depends on your budget, and what you're trying to do. I think these days, we're all asked to do more with less. And so I can only imagine that, nowadays, marketing teams are getting smaller, and they're asked to do more. So, you know, what else can we outsourced and how can we do that, right? And so things like you need a PR person, I and you cannot do it on your own. I've outsources that, for example, I looked at Upwork. And I've outsource it to somebody who had background in, you know, our x our domain. And I it's kind of like in-source outsource, if you like, because they worked part time for the company. They had good domain. And I put kind of very clear KPIs/measurement around number of backlinks and things like that and worked very closely with them. So kind of like a hybrid. So I would say if you are these days, who knows, you might look at kind of a hybrid model where you bring somebody part time but they have some expertise and you kind of in-source outsource them.

[14:28] Brandi Starr:   

Okay, and you hit on a few key points that I want to dig into more. So the first is the people management component. So I know that one of the benefits of outsourcing is you don't require headcount approval. They always say that different reports show a different number, but there's a number of people that one manager can manage effectively. And so the more people you add on your team, the more layers of overall people management you have to have, and you don't have that with outsourcing. So I'd like to hear your thoughts on the people management considerations when choosing to fill a role on your team, whether it's new headcount giving that responsibility to an existing person, versus working with a third party to fulfill that responsibility. Where does that fit in your consideration set?

[15:32] Adi Reske:

It's interesting, what you're saying because in my mind, all of my outsourced resources join my weekly marketing team. To me, it was part of the team. Because how can you do marketing automation, or campaigns, or PR, if you don't know what's going on in the company? I think the more you know, the more you can come up with more ideas, help me better. Because I remember situations where I had like a marketing automation person. And we had the relationship of, I would have weekly call with them and I would say, I need X, Y, and Z; that's what I need. And they would execute, but it wasn't as efficient. And then I started inviting them to my weekly meetings. And then during our weekly calls, it was like Adi, I know you asked me to do X,Y and Z, but I listened to you or I listened to the other people in your team, and your challenges and what you're trying to do. Did you know that I could also do A, B, and C. And that just adds a ton of value. Because the people you bring us super brilliant, they're very smart, and they will always know more than you do. And so if you bring them in, that's really important. So to me, it goes without saying that anybody, whether you're outsourced or you're in-source, you have to be a part of the team meeting, you have to be a part of the slack channel, you have to know what the company is doing because you'll add more value to me, you'll help me be a hero and better. I think what it helps is you don't have to go through the same recruiting process. For me, I have a lot of outsourced agencies that I've been working with for years. And so it's kind of rinse and repeat, if you like, go to another company, I bring my team with me. And so it saves some time. Whereas when you bring somebody in-house, there's a recruiting process, there's like 10 other people that they need to meet, everybody has an opinion, everybody has something to say and it takes a long time. And when you bring somebody that is outsourced, they come in, they hit the ground running, they start executing, and that's huge. It helps you act faster, they integrate with a company more quickly, because that's their business. And so they immediately kind of work with everybody more easily. So there's advantages and disadvantages I think. To me, I think in any company I would work for I would have a good mix of in-source and outsource; it makes sense to me.

[18:57] Brandi Starr:  

And I'm definitely with you. I am not on one side or the other. I don't think everything should be in house because I do believe that it creates some missed opportunities there but then I also agree that you can't outsource everything because you do need the domain expertise. Something else that you sort of suddenly hit on that I want to expand on is, when thinking about outsourced there are different types of outsourcing. And like you talked about Upwork, and I kind of bucket them in low cost outsourcing. So whether that is like an Upwork or companies that bring in people from overseas in order to give really low pricing versus outsourcing where it is more highly skilled, and you're going to get more of that strategic presence, any thoughts around what is your criteria for where you balance those low cost outsource resources versus your higher costs, but also highly skilled?

[20:13] Adi Reske:   

Absolutely! So in things like marketing automation, you really don't want to go cheap, because that's going to cost you later. You want people who understand. You also know that a lot of this is not just one person, usually there is some coding involved, some automation involved, some integration with different things. And so you really want to go high end, agency or something like that, that can really help you. If you want to do rebrand, or if you want to do naming, you really want to go high end. You really want to go with somebody who's done it before, who can really help you, you don't want to make any mistakes, you really don't. I think with redesigning a PowerPoint presentation, or social posts, you can afford-ish to try lower point option. But I would also say, when you go to the lower point option look for some help from your friends. Look for your network, ask them, I'm part of the pavilion for example, the community and some other communities, ask around, people will tell you; or not. I have a great designer, I don't want anybody else to work with her, I want her to work with me, that's it. But there are certain things where you can kind of afford, social media. Social media, you may be able to bring somebody who can work with you closely. And if it doesn't work, okay, you can defer to somebody else, or you can find somebody else. But certain things are very high risk, that you really do not have time to mess it up. Google Analytics is another one. Set up a good analytics platform. I did it, I've done it, it was a mistake. It was a mistake. You really want high quality measurement platform, something that you can trust, because that's your livelihood in marketing. If you cannot show good numbers, reliable numbers, you may lose your job. Because then the company does not know where the money goes to. And you're not able to show where the money went, and what you've achieved with it, and that's high risk. That's too high risk.

[23:01] Brandi Starr:   

As a marketer, proving your worth is consistently important. And I do agree with you. I think where I see value in more of the low cost outsource resources is things that are highly repeatable and where there's no thought required. And I don't mean to discount the lower end resources, but it is where I just need you to do this thing, I don't need you to think about it, just do exactly what I'm telling you. Where the instructions are exact and repeatable, that is where it is great. We have a number of people we work with through Upwork. And it is for things like transcribing the podcast, for example. And those sorts of things where it is literally take this recording, type the words that are in there. And so there's no thought required and those are places where you can save a bit of your budget on those kinds of things, which then frees up more of your budget for the higher skilled, higher cost resources.

[24:16] Adi Reske:   

I agree. I agree. It really depends on your budget. Honestly, I think that, again, if you're a large company, you might want to bring an intern to do that, and then grow them inside the company. But it really depends, if you're a small company, you just have to rely on people to kind of help you from the outside.

[24:36] Brandi Starr:   

And then the last area that I wanted to dig into that you kind of touched on is focus versus the amount of time that you have. We know that time is finite. We've all got the same number of hours in a day. And you talked quite a bit about being able to outsource things, allows you to focus on a other things. And I think that that is a key consideration as well. Because it is very much a just because you can doesn't mean you should. And that's like, oh my team can do that. But what is it costing you if they're doing this thing versus focusing on the things that require domain expertise. So I'd love to hear you dig into that a little more, around how that has helped you in being able to hand certain things off to a third party.

[25:32] Adi Reske:   

And I think that's where the decisioning tree that I talked about comes in. Because marketing is one of the most diverse space in business, I think. It's anything from producing a video, to automation, to content, to product marketing, there's so many things. And so my skill, for example, my core skill is product marketing. I've learned everything else, but product marketing is my core skill. So when I go in, I say, okay, I don't need to hire product marketing right now. But guess what, I'm not a good writer; I probably need some good writers with domain expertise. And I probably need some help with digital marketing -- just making it up. So can I source them? Do I have enough budget? Or do I need to go out there and find? So this is kind of the decisioning trees? What can you do? What other skills do you have in the team? Understand what they're good at, and understand what they're not very good at or what they hate doing? And then figure out the gap, okay, I have this gap with digital marketing, with video production and with design. Great, fantastic. So here's what I need to do. I'm going to outsource this to just one person. And I'm going to bring an agency for that, and I'm going to in source this, and bring it all together. And this is kind of the decision tree. And then there is kind of the over time. Because I remember in one company, I brought an outsource marketing automation, because we were too small. And over time we grew. And it became sales operation and sales automation became bigger and bigger. And at some point, I was like, you know what, we need to insource, it's time. It's time to insource it. We would still probably need some agency for that but it's big enough that we probably need it in house. But depending on the size of the company, what your core skills are, what the team core skills are, and where are the gaps, and where are you trying to be? All of us are trying to double inbound though? Who doesn't? So what does that look like? And where is the inbound going to come from? Do we need it from backlinks? Do we need it more for social? Where are our gaps? And that's how you kind of fill in -- It's almost a puzzle, you kind of put the puzzle together.

[28:11] Brandi Starr:   

And I like that. It's really interesting, because I think different companies go through different evolutions. You talked about outsourcing marketing automation, until you grew to a point that you felt that you needed to insource it. And then I'm thinking about one of our largest clients, theirs was the opposite. They had insourced it when they were smaller, and then as they grew to a certain point, they were kind of like, we're never going to hire enough people to be able to handle this. Now we need to outsource it. So I do think that your decision tree and where do we have the skill set? Where is the headcount best deployed? I think that is very much like the thought process, and in thinking about it, different companies are going to arrive at different conclusions from that same thought process. Really, really, interesting. Well, I love that and talking about our challenges is just the first step and nothing changes if nothing changes. In traditional therapy, the therapist will give the client some homework, but here at Revenue Rehab, we like to flip that on its head and ask you to give us some homework. So for those heads of marketing, that are listening, and are debating what they should keep in house versus what they should outsource, what is your one thing, I'd like to get one action item one clear next step, to help move us in the right direction. So I'm going to ask you to give us some homework.

[29:56] Adi Reske:   

Make a list of your core expertise. What is it? Because marketing right now probably has in general marketing has maybe 50 skills. What are the core skills that you have right now, top three, four, five in your team? And then what are the gaps that you have in order to hit your goals this year and next year?

[30:30] Brandi Starr:

I love it. So let's make list, let's basically take inventory of the skills that we need, and that we have to figure out what to do with those gaps. And as we are at the beginning of the year, I think everyone is looking and planning and all those sorts of things to figure out how are we going to hit the lofty goals that are always thrust upon us every year. So that is a great, great starting point. Well, I have enjoyed our discussion but that's our time for today. 

[31:08] Adi Reske:
Thank you so much. I enjoyed it a lot. Thank you for having me. 

[31:12] Brandi Starr:

Yes. Thank you for joining me and thank everyone for joining us today. I have thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Adi. I can't believe we are already at the end. See you next time.

[31:24] Adi Reske:

Take care. 

 [31:26] Outro:

You've been listening to Revenue Rehab with your host Brandi Starr. Your session is now over but the learning has just begun. Join our mailing list and catch up on all our shows at We're also on Twitter and Instagram at Revenue Rehab. This concludes this week's session. We'll see you next week.

Adi BacharreskeProfile Photo

Adi Bacharreske

B2B Marketing Leader

Adi is an experienced B2B marketing leader, an entrepreneur, a coffee lover, a world traveler, and an aspiring birthday-cake-baker living in Boston.