Should You Hire a Marketing Agency or Do the Work In-House?

Your business needs marketing. In today’s world, crowded with brands, startups, and advertising messages in every direction, that’s not really up for debate.

But how do you do it? Should you hire an agency? Or should you do the work yourself? There are lots of factors to consider — cost, experience, speed, expertise, and beyond. The best option for you will depend on your business, your goals, and where you want to go in the future. Here are some things to consider.

Workplace Politics

We’d all like to pretend that office politics don’t play a role in the quality of the work you put out, but the reality is that hurt feelings — or the fear of hurt feelings — can keep people from speaking their mind or going against the grain.

If you use an in-house marketing team, they’ll have to work with the rest of the company all the time. If they shoot down someone else’s ideas (or vice versa), they’ll still have to get along with everyone.

If you use an outside agency, this is a non-factor. An agency team is focused on one thing and one thing only — your marketing strategy and subsequent results. They’re much less afraid to step on toes or suggest something unusual or unorthodox for fear that someone might not like them.

Advantage: Agency

Company Knowledge

You’d like to work with marketers who align with your company culture — who know your priorities, your goals, your culture, vision, and values. Most businesses do.

If you hire an internal marketing team, they’ll be coming from your company. They’ve had time to learn and grow with your business, learning the ins and outs more intimately than any agency could have. They’re more closely invested in your company’s goals and successes than an external team is, and that might motivate them. On the other hand, being on the inside makes it hard to see the company from an outside perspective.

You can have detailed onboarding conversations with a marketing agency, explaining to them your history, your identity, and your company’s goals and motivations. An agency can take an independent look at your whole company, divested from any personal interest, and create a coherent picture that someone who’s immersed in the minutiae might not be able to.

Advantage: Tie

Skillset

In-house employees live and breathe your brand, and they’re immersed in your specific industry. An outside agency will have to learn the ins and outs of the business you run before they can create effective marketing.

The downside of hiring in-house? They can’t be everything. When you hire in-house, those marketing team members usually have to wear many hats. They have to handle social media, web design, print media, paid search, organic search, broader strategy, and more — and it’s very hard to be good at all those things.

Then you need someone who knows the platform backward and forward, a designer to make it all look great, a copywriter who can crank out quality content, a developer to make sure your web presence is checking all the boxes … starting to see the problem? You need half a dozen marketing pros on your payroll to even begin to execute in-house at the level of an agency, and the costs start to add up fast. If you hire an agency, you’re hiring a team of a dozen people, all with their own specialties.

Advantage: Agency

Adaptability

The in-house team is … well, in-house. They’re right there in the same building with you, so you can come to them with changes, ideas, and new projects quickly. You have more control over the agenda, the priority list, and project management. And they don’t have any other clients, so if something urgent comes up, they can drop everything and focus on the newest project.

That doesn’t mean they will, though — in-house changes are more susceptible to fall through the cracks, given the number of different people at different levels that might be asking for them.

An agency might be slower to respond — they have other clients’ time to consider, so there’s usually a queue before they’ll add new projects to your account. On the other hand, an agency usually has a more robust project management system, so they can handle a large volume of different tasks better than you can do in-house.

Advantage: In-House (by a hair)

Creativity

There are creative people to be found everywhere, and there’s no guarantee that the people on an agency team will have more — or better — ideas than the people within your company already. In fact, the internal team might have insights born of their familiarity with the business that wouldn’t occur to an outside team.

But there’s more to creativity than just ideas — ideas are nothing without execution to back them up. That’s where a professional marketing team comes in. The professionals don’t just have more ideas and better ideas, they have ideas about how to make those ideas come to life.

Professional marketers are tapped into the channels and methods that can take your company to the next level. They know the tactics and strategies that a non-marketing professional would never think of, simply because they may not know they exist.

Advantage: Agency

Cost

Lots of business owners think that they’re saving money by hiring in-house, but that’s usually not true. If you decide to hire a dedicated in-house marketing manager, you’ll be paying them an annual salary of roughly $62,500 a year. And that’s just for one person! One person can’t handle the complete marketing duties of anything but the smallest companies.

If you hire an agency, you’re gaining the abilities and experience of a whole team of people, each with their own specialties. The agency has already acquired the tools, software, computers, and personnel they need. They’ve already hired people with the right skills. That means deliverables are executed flawlessly and quickly.

All you need to do is pay the agency, and those costs are far more predictable. For example, we offer pre-set packages for a fixed amount per month, and that amount covers an agreed-upon set of materials and campaigns. Easy peasy.

Which costs more? It’ll depend on the agency you hire, the package you choose, and the goals you want your marketing to meet. Some of the biggest brands use in-house marketing teams AND agencies, allowing for them to have the best of both worlds, but most organizations don’t have that kind of budget. In terms of bang for your buck, an agency will always deliver more services for less.

Advantage: Agency

The Bottom Line

In the end, you’ll have to make the decision for yourself about what your company would like to accomplish and how, but we strongly believe that the best way to take your brand’s marketing to the next level is to hire an agency. If you want us to take a professional look at your existing marketing, your needs, and the opportunities available to you, get in touch! We’ll send you in the right direction, whichever direction that might be.

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