The majority of in-house creative groups believe in a myth: that marketing is unnecessary because they have a built-in client base. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In-house groups must prove their worth every day. Proactive marketing is the key to surviving and, better yet, thriving as an in-house group.

Marketing is a tool for creating and building relationships. Marketing your team internally will better position and improve your standing in the company and help establish your group as a valuable corporate resource. Yet self-marketing is frequently neglected by creative teams and remains an area where almost every group should make improvements.

Some in-house groups choose to stay under the radar and remain anonymous thinking they will somehow avoid falling prey to the bean counters looking to cut costs within the groups they deem expendable, but without a strategic marketing plan you will likely be seen as irrelevant and become a victim of corporate cost-cutting measures. Through effective marketing, you will be able to both evaluate and demonstrate the value you bring your company. To that end, as the leader of your in-house group, you must market your group to a variety of stakeholders--your current and potential clients, as well as upper management.

For your marketing program to be effective it must include your goal, strategy, budget, tactics and measurement.

GOAL--Create Your Roadmap

To produce an effective marketing strategy, you must first understand the big picture, including the perceptions key stakeholders have of your organization, the challenges you face, and the steps you need to take to improve perceptions. Your first order of business is to establish a broad roadmap, which is always more challenging than it seems. Your first impulse may be to jump directly to tactics, but a smart creative leader will show restraint and develop a value proposition and/or mission statement first that will help:

  • Balance your marketing efforts between clients and upper management
  • Set realistic and achievable goals--immediate and long-range
  • Use hard and softball marketing techniques--formal and informal
  • Strive to make your outreach consistent and effective

STRATEGY--Start with a Plan

Once you have a "roadmap" you are ready to create your trip plan! By creating a precise plan for marketing your services to your target audiences, you increase your likelihood for success.

To get started on your plan, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What messages do you want to convey?
  • What is the best vehicle to reach your audience?
  • What actions (if any) do you want your audience to take?
  • How will you handle any responses your marketing efforts produce?



  • Develop a distribution list of those whom you are targeting. Identify what they need and how you can solve their business challenges.
  • Create buzz. Using your marketing materials to showcase capabilities; these materials should be the most creative examples of your work.
  • Conduct satisfaction surveys. Get a clear idea of how clients perceive your team in terms of quality, cost and turnaround. Use the results as a gauge to turn client expectations into measureable goals.

BUDGET--Determine Your Marketing Budget


Just like a standalone business, you want to recoup and quantify every marketing dollar you spend by gaining new clients and additional work. Regardless of what you spend, you want a return on investment (ROI).

Initially, you may want to consider developing fewer marketing pieces, and ensure these pieces are executed extremely well. If you spend a small amount of money on marketing and get $0 ROI, you have spent too much and your approach is ineffective. Conversely, if you spend a larger sum of money and your ROI is higher, that is money wisely spend because all of it will be recouped.


  • Determine what resourcesare you willing to commit and where the money will come from.
  • Do the most you can with a limited or non-existent budget, for example: one-on-one conversations, word-of-mouth and elevator speeches can generate big results for minimal costs. In addition, consider in-house printing and limited distribution of your pieces. Or web-based deliverables such as an HTML newsletter.
  • Determine if you can commit the time, personnel and money to produce high-cost products, such as a brochure or Web site.

TACTICS--Create Effective Marketing Materials

Be sure to brand your creative organization with consistent messaging and visual look and feel. Your messages must effectively communicate your brand attributes and reinforce your value proposition. You may even want to establish a tagline that communicates your value.


  • Choose from marketing materials ranging from capability brochures and presentations to brown bags, email blasts, Web sites and open house get-togethers.
  • Use the company's Intranet or Portal; post notices highlighting services, turnaround times, people and past work and include case studies, success stories, awards and client testimonials.
  • Get out of your department and meet people face-to-face. Get out in front of your customers to gain a better understanding of their programs, communication budgets and expectations.

MEASUREMENT - Report Proven Performance Metrics

Upper management thinks in terms of quantifiable metrics--"What have you done for me lately?" As an internal agency you should be making or saving money for the company. You will be in jeopardy if it costs your company money to retain your group.


  • Sell value: how your group contributes to the profitability of the company.
  • Communicate your value propisiton to your corporate executives.
  • Monitor and report to management the hard savings of using in-house resources by developing rate comparisons with outside firms.
  • Report quarterly the number and types of projects your team has produced.
  • Build relationships with upper management by producing positive results that will make them advocates of your group .

Marketing Together Keeps In-House Creative Groups Thriving Together!

Marketing is an often overwhelming responsibility and too great a responsibility for one person to handle. All of your team members should be de facto marketing representatives for your organization. Your team members should be able to articulate your value proposition and describe your capabilities. You should make marketing an objective measure in their annual performance review.

The fact is that in-house creative groups that market together will grow and thrive together.