The Pro’s and Con’s of Hiring a Marketing Agency vs. an In-House Team

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Developing and executing an effective marketing strategy is core to growing your business. It is also important to have the right team in place to handle your marketing. As a growing business, your marketing budget is likely stretched, and you might be considering whether hiring a marketing team in-house or using an agency is more cost-effective. If you’re on the fence about which approach to take, here are some factors to consider for both options. 

‌In-House Marketing Personnel

Having a dedicated marketing team on your payroll allows you to work with people who understand your brand and have a vested interest in your company. Your team can work together to build a marketing strategy that is based on your vision and mission. The benefits of hiring an in-house marketing team include:

  • ‌More control over your marketing
  • ‌Better transparency
  • ‌A team that understands your mission

Benefits of hiring an in-house marketing team

‌‌More control over your marketing

Employing an in-house marketing team gives you final approval over your messaging. You can work with your team to set goals and create a strategy. Keeping these services in-house makes it easier to assess how different projects and initiatives are moving along. 

Better transparency

Since you have direct access to your employees, you can always check in with them and see what they are up to. With an agency, you can schedule regular meetings, but you may not always have access to your project manager to make sure that your projects are on track. 

‌A team that understands your mission

‌Hiring your own marketing staff lets you train them to understand your company’s mission. Since they work out of your office, they are familiar with your day-to-day operations and how you do business.  They also have a clear idea of your competitive differentiators and can clearly articulate them. 

‌Your marketing team will likely be more loyal to your company. It is in their best interests to succeed since their main objective is to generate more business. In-house marketing employees focus all of their time on marketing for your company, and they may be more willing to put in extra work to make each campaign successful. 

Drawbacks of hiring an in-house marketing team

‌While keeping your marketing team in-house has its benefits, it also has its drawbacks. These include: 

  • ‌High payroll costs
  • ‌Lack of diverse skills
  • ‌Challenges of hiring the right employees

High payroll costs

To attract and retain top marketing talent, you will likely need to drastically increase your payroll. As the owner of a growing business, it can be tempting to save money by hiring junior-level employees. But these employees have to learn on the job, and it might be at the expense of your marketing. 

‌‌If you want skilled marketing professionals with expert knowledge of print and digital marketing, paying them a salary that is on par with the industry average makes it more likely that they will work for you and stick around. 

‌‌A full marketing team requires many hands on deck, including a graphic designer, website developer, content writer, and marketing specialists. According to LinkedIn salary data, the annual cost for a full marketing team could add up to over $280,000 annually, including salaries and benefits. 

‌‌When hiring an agency, you will likely pay a monthly retainer and additional fees for each project, but the annual cost will likely be comparable to the salary of just one employee.  

Lack of diverse skills

‌You may only have the budget to hire one marketing person to design and implement every component of your marketing strategy. But one person can rarely do everything. Hiring an in-house marketer or a smaller team might leave holes in your strategy. 

‌‌You might hire someone who is an expert web designer but who lacks copywriting skills. Or you might hire someone who is brilliant at creating a strategy but doesn’t quite know how to execute it. Bringing on a full marketing team with diverse skill sets is usually more productive, but it is also expensive.

‌‌You could use a hybrid approach by hiring someone in-house to tackle your most pressing marketing needs and using an agency for smaller, more focused projects.

Hiring the right employees

‌One of the most challenging parts of growing your business is hiring the right team. Sifting through stacks of resumes and trying to find the right fit takes time and a certain amount of luck. The current job market is competitive, and you may need perks and benefits to attract top talent, which add to your monthly expenses. 

‌‌In order to keep your talent, you need to keep them engaged. The job must continue to bring new challenges, or your employees might get bored and leave. In that case, you need to spend more money to refill the position. Working closely with your employees on career goals, mentorship, and development can help you keep them motivated while improving their skills. 

‌‌Many of these challenges can be alleviated by hiring a professional agency to tackle your marketing. 

‌Hiring an agency

Although hiring an agency for your marketing strategy and execution can seem like an expensive process, it may be more affordable than using your own in-house team. For one thing, you only have to pay the firm for as long as it takes to execute each project, possibly along with a small retainer. Other benefits of hiring an agency include: 

  • ‌An expert approach to your marketing strategy
  • ‌An objective team
  • ‌Time to operate your business instead of focusing on marketing
  • ‌Access to more resources

Benefits of hiring an agency

An expert approach to your marketing strategy

‌Agencies are full of talented people with expertise on all various components of a successful marketing strategy. When you hire an agency, you have access to this expertise. An agency can take a comprehensive look at your marketing and work with you to develop tools that maximize your approach and generate more business. 

‌‌Using an agency gives you access to content writing experts, SEO experts, social media experts, web designers, and many more. You will receive a multi-dimensional approach without having to hire a team of experts in-house. 

An objective team

You started your business to capitalize on your passion and solve problems for customers in your field, but being too close to your business can hamper your objectivity. Although you can direct and guide an in-house marketing team, you may not be able to step back enough to comprehensively evaluate your situation to develop effective marketing campaigns. 

‌‌Professionals at a marketing agency don’t work within your business, and they are able to look at it objectively when developing a strategy. They can evaluate what your competitors are doing and where you stack up in the market. 

‌‌Agency professionals are not under pressure to meet sales goals for your business, so they aren’t just going to try every strategy to see what works. They have experience with many businesses and know how to tailor a marketing strategy that fits into the situation. 

Time to operate your business instead of focusing on marketing

As a business owner, your time is valuable. When growing your business, you may be operating with a lean staff. When you hire a marketing agency, you can focus on managing the day-to-day aspects of your business and devote more time to working with your clients. 

‌‌You also alleviate the time spent recruiting, hiring, and training people for your marketing team. You can focus on selecting the right agency for your company and spend less time on training and professional development activities. 

Access to more resources

‌Marketing agencies often have a variety of industry connections. Using an agency to handle your marketing lets you take advantage of all they have to offer. You may receive discounted rates on advertising or access to professionals in the agency’s network who can elevate your marketing tools. 

‌‌An agency might be able to contract professional videographers to contribute professional-looking content to your social media pages and your website. If they don’t employ content writers who are skilled at creating engaging articles to enhance your reader base, they probably have a network of freelancers. 

‌‌Since agencies work with multiple clients in many industries, they may know people in your field who can give a fresh perspective on marketing campaigns that get better results. A single marketing employee or a small team might not have access to as wide a network. 

Drawbacks of using a marketing agency

Each tactic comes with drawbacks. Some of the challenges associated with using an agency include: 

  • ‌Lack of focus on your project
  • ‌Having an agency that assigns you less experienced team members
  • ‌Lack of consensus on the project vision

Lack of focus on your project

Since agencies juggle multiple clients on a daily basis, there may be a lack of focus on your project. You can mitigate this challenge by scheduling regular meetings with your project manager and encouraging communication. 

Getting stuck with less experienced team members

If you’re not spending enough money with an agency to be considered a top-tier client, you might not be getting the top talent. Instead, your projects end up being assigned to people with less experience. 

‌‌If this is the case, you might have been able to attract and retain marketing professionals with more experience by hiring on your own. When choosing an agency, look for one whose clients are similar in size and revenue to your business. 

‌Lack of consensus

When you hire an agency, your start-up meeting serves as the place in which to set your vision and answer questions. You may have left the meeting feeling like there was a mutual understanding only to find out that your team envisioned something entirely different weeks into the project. 

‌Unless you meet regularly with your team to touch base and review deliverables at different stages of the project, you may not know that you and your team have conflicting visions until a lot of time has been spent on the project. 

‌‌To alleviate this challenge, ask a lot of follow-up questions at the kick-off meeting and stay in contact with your project team to ensure that deliverables align with your vision and your goals. 

Deciding which option is right for you

‌At first glance, it may seem that hiring in-house marketing personnel is more advantageous to your business. The marketing process is more transparent, and you get to direct the messaging. Having employees in-house means that you can meet with them whenever you want to get status updates. You can easily refocus if your campaigns aren’t as successful as you thought. 

‌However, once you factor in the cost of benefits, the costs of hiring and retaining employees, and the time spent recruiting, training, and managing an in-house staff, you will likely find that hiring an agency is more cost-effective in the long run. 

‌‌There are times in which it is likely more advantageous to hire an agency. If your business is new and you are beginning to develop branding and marketing, an agency will offer more expertise. Their professionals can help you set your strategy and use the best print and digital media tools to create brand awareness. 

‌‌If you are working on a project that needs specialized expertise, like a new project launch or a specifically targeted campaign, agency professionals can give you access to resources that will make your campaign successful. 

‌Once your company is well established with a steady stream of customers, you might feel more comfortable bringing marketing functions in-house rather than hiring an agency to execute every project. 

‌‌Each option comes with its own challenges and opportunities, and both may be right for your business at different times. The most important part of building a solid marketing strategy — whether you choose to use an in-house team or outsource to a professional agency — is to have a solid strategy. 

‌‌Knowing upfront what you want to achieve with your marketing tools and creating a clear set of goals and objectives can help you recruit the right employees or research an agency whose expertise will help you accomplish your goals.

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