First, write a list of your needs and goals, and be as specific as possible. Think about reputation building through traditional media or influencers, content development, improving your SEO, advertising, etc. Next, consider these variables:
A full-time in-house marketing person or team requires salary and benefits, plus other “hidden costs” like office space and supplies. Salaries for mid-level marketing professionals average between $60,000 – $90,000 per year ($5,000–$7,500/mo.) Agency costs vary wildly. You contract with an agency based on their set fees and negotiate a final price that is based on a mutually agreed-upon plan. There are no extra personnel or operational costs when you hire an agency.
What skills are needed to execute your marketing plan? If you have very basic needs, one “jack of all trades” employee may suffice. However, most marketing plans require various skills for which you need an entire team. Challenges arise when your marketing needs change and your in-house employees’ skills are limited. Agencies usually offer multiple experts and specialists in different fields with extremely diverse skill sets. They can easily adapt to changing needs and create highly integrated marketing plans. You get more “bang for your buck” because you pay for an entire team of professionals with diverse skills and experience.
How urgent are the marketing needs you identified? If they’re not time-sensitive, hiring in-house is feasible since the hiring process – which includes selecting, vetting, interviewing, and training – can take a long time. Plus, the person in charge of hiring may not have much marketing experience so more time is spent on researching how to pick the best candidates. None of that is an issue with an agency. If your company needs to swiftly respond to a specific circumstance, such as a competitor opening nearby and stealing your customers at an alarming rate, an agency is definitely the better option. They can get to work right away, and quickly develop and execute a marketing plan.
In-house marketers are more likely to fall into a creativity rut or become bored because of the repetitive nature of their job, which can lead to high turnover rates. Marketing professionals at agencies find that by working with other like-minded people, their creativity is continually inspired and buoyed with new ideas. An agency’s diverse client base also leads to different experiences that translate into an agency’s ability to approach each project with a unique and fresh perspective.
Values and Culture
Whether you hire in-house employees or contract with an agency, you want to make sure their values align with your company’s values, mission, and culture. You can ensure this during the hiring and training process with employees. If you choose to go with an agency, you similarly need to interview them to ensure they’re a good fit. If there are any changes on the team managing your account, make sure the new team is still a good fit for your brand.
Communication with in-house employees is faster because they are physically in your office. In-person communication means quick approvals, fast responsiveness, and easy scheduling. If you contract with an agency, most communication is done via email and phone, with fewer in-person meetings. When interviewing agencies, ensure they will make your account a priority and respond to you quickly.
Resources and Network
Companies are often limited in the tools they can afford for their marketing department, and in-house employees usually have a smaller network since they work for one company in one industry. Agencies are more likely to invest in resources or software that they can offer to multiple clients (e.g. Sprout) and they have a vast network of contacts in various industries and fields, especially the media.
It’s vital to stay on top of the best practices and most successful tactics in marketing, but these can change in the blink of an eye. For in-house marketers to be on the leading edge, they must take time away from their normal duties and have the means to invest in courses or workshops. A good agency makes it a priority to have the competitive edge. Agency professionals have access to educational courses and other resources so they can learn the newest trends and be industry leaders in their field.
There is no “one size fits all” answer to whether you should hire in-house or work with an agency for marketing, but these steps should help you find the best fit for your company. If you still have questions, give us a call – we’d be happy to walk you through your options. We pride ourselves on developing solutions specific to each person’s unique needs.