A few weeks ago, I was talking to a prospective client about their marketing needs.
They currently have an in-house marketing person, but he is not quite fitting the bill. He’s a bit behind on digital marketing and he’s a “doer” not someone who can guide their marketing efforts.
They want to grow their business and expand to new markets. They need a marketer who can help them do that. They are exploring whether they need to replace that person or if it would make more sense to bring in a marketing agency.
If you’re a business owner or executive, perhaps this scenario sounds familiar.
It’s a common question that companies ask — should you build an in-house marketing team or outsource your marketing to an agency?
Which is Better – Marketing Agency or In-House Marketing?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
It really boils down to your company’s marketing needs and how you like to work.
Yes, I own a marketing agency, so I have some bias. But, I have also spent several years working on in-house marketing teams, so I have experience in both arenas. And I want to help you determine the approach that’s best for your business.
To help you decide, I’ve provided a run-down of the pros and cons of marketing agencies and in-house marketing teams.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
Pros of In-House Marketing Team
- Dedicated, focused team. Having a dedicated team of people on-staff and on-site is perhaps the best reason to hire an in-house marketing team. An in-house marketing team will give you 100 percent focus on your business and they are readily available for day-to-day needs that may come your way.
- Stronger brand knowledge. Your employees are the people who know your business best. That means an in-house marketing team will have hands-on experience with your employees, customers, industry and culture. That can translate into marketing and messaging that better represents your brand.
- Better access to resources. Because your employees are on-site, they have better access to the people and processes within your business. As a result, your marketing team can complete tasks much quicker. We talk about this a lot as it relates to social media. It’s far easier for an on-site marketing team to share photos, videos and updates to social media because they have real-time access to what’s going on at the company.
- Keep relationships in house. A marketer’s job is often to build relationships — with influencers, the media, clients, prospects, etc. It can be extremely beneficial for your marketing team to develop and own these relationships.
Cons of an In-House Marketing Team
- Expensive. Hiring full-time employees can be expensive. And, not just the salary, but also the overhead costs that go along with it. For instance, you also need to invest in training to keep your marketing team up to speed on current trends. Not to mention, that it’s rare you can find all of the marketing skills you need in just one person. To build your marketing team, you might need at least two to three people to get the job done right. With an average salary of $63,000 for marketing jobs, that can get expensive really fast.
- Skills gaps. Depending on your budget, you might not be able to hire people to fill all the marketing skills you need. It can be difficult to find a few key people who can fill all of your designated roles — writing, editing, design, social media, SEO, advertising, etc. That may mean you’re still hiring contractors, freelancers or agencies to fill the roles your team can’t handle.
- Tunnel vision. In-house marketing teams, by their nature, are very focused on your business and industry. Although that can be a great thing, it might also mean they are not exposed to other ideas outside of your company or industry. Additionally, they can often find themselves behind on marketing trends. Both of these issues could make your marketing stiff or stale.
- Breadth and depth of knowledge. Perhaps the biggest reason to hire an agency is their wealth of knowledge and expertise. Because they have an entire company stacked with marketing talent, you can be sure they have the resources on-staff to fill the bulk of your marketing needs.
- Cost-effective. Hiring a marketing agency can often give you greater bang for your buck. For the same price of even one or two full-time salaries, you can get access to a greater pool of talent through an agency.
- Access to technology and resources. Oftentimes, marketing agencies have access to tremendous marketing tools and other resources that companies can’t afford on their own or might not have known about. Agencies can give you access to technology, data and resources that you might not be able to get otherwise.
- Efficient. Because agencies do the same kinds of work for multiple clients, they have proven processes that make their efforts more efficient. They can often get the work done faster than an in-house team who might be figuring something out for the first time.
- Creative ideas and fresh perspective. Another key benefit to agencies is that they bring an outside perspective to your business. Oftentimes, marketing agencies can quickly identify trouble spots or opportunities that an in-house team might miss because they are too close to the business. The regular focus on bringing new and fresh ideas to the table can be a huge benefit to working with a marketing agency.
- On top of trends. The digital marketing landscape is changing at a breakneck pace and it can be challenging to keep up. Marketing agencies make it their business to know how the industry is changing so they can bring that knowledge to their clients.
Cons of a Marketing Agency
- Less access and attention. Because a marketing agency is not on-site, you won’t have the same access to their team as you would employees. And because marketing agencies serve dozens or even hundreds of other clients, you get less time and attention from them as well.
- Slow learning curve. It can take some time for an agency to learn and understand your business — especially if they don’t have experience in your industry or niche. This means your team must spend time helping them get up to speed.
- Requires management. Even though you are outsourcing the bulk of your marketing, someone on your team still needs to be responsible for working with the agency and managing their efforts.
Hiring Marketers: Which Approach Works Best?
As you can see there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. But, here are some additional considerations as you explore these options
1. Size of your company.
If you can’t afford to hire 2-3 full-time people, you might be better off working with a marketing agency, consultant or freelancer. You can get a lot of bang for your buck without the cost of multiple employees.
However, a larger company with a bigger budget might find that it’s more cost effective to build an in-house team. The cost efficiencies are higher for in-house teams if you have a bigger budget.
2. Time investment.
Even if you decide to hire a marketing agency, someone within your business needs to be responsible for marketing — even if it’s not your job title. For an agency to do their best work, they need to have regular communication with someone on your team.
Hiring a marketing agency is not a set it and forget it solution. It is a partnership that requires two-way communication. Make sure you’re ready for that before enlisting outside help. If you’re not ready or willing to invest the time, you might find that hiring someone internal to manage your marketing could be of benefit.
3. Hybrid approach.
Oftentimes, the best way to handle marketing is by using a hybrid of in-house and outsourced marketing teams.
It’s always helpful to have boots on the ground within a company to get certain marketing tasks done. Then, the agency can focus their time and attention on providing high-level strategy and direction.
Do you have experience hiring a marketing agency or an in-house team? If so, what has worked best for you? Let us know in the comments!
And, if you’re exploring this right now, what questions do you have about either approach? Contact us to let us know. We’ll be happy to talk with you about your needs and help you find the right approach!