Marketing plays a vital role in growing, accelerating, and maintaining your business. At some point in a business’ life cycle, the need for increased marketing activity will arise. With this comes the question of: “Should I hire in-house staff or a marketing agency?”.
There is no right or wrong answer to this. The answer will depend on a number of factors relating to your business structure and goals.
Before we dive in, it is important for you to identify and prioritise your marketing needs. Do you currently have a marketing strategy? Do you require a brand new marketing strategy tailored to your business? What kind of skills are required to execute your strategy? It can all be a little confusing. However, being honest with your current marketing efforts, goals and strategy will help you make a decision and drive growth.
In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the pros and cons of employing in-house marketing staff vs an agency – helping you make a decision on what’s best for your business:
When you employ a marketer, they are paid to live and breathe your brand. You will go through a hiring process that allows you to handpick an individual that has experience in your industry, and the required skill set to succeed. However, it’s important to remember that digital marketers are usually skilled in specific areas, such as search, social media, content, strategy, outreach, inbound, etc. Therefore, it is rare to find one person that ticks all the boxes and may require you to hire more staff.
An agency will need to be brought up to speed with your brand, messaging and goals in order to execute campaigns. This can be time consuming, especially if you are working with more than one agency. On the other hand, agencies usually have a team of staff or freelancers that have a wealth of experience in multiple skills. The diverse range of skills offered by an agency can be attractive for many businesses as they help provide a well-rounded and flexible approach to marketing.
In-house employees can prioritise high profile tasks and provide a quick turn around on campaign execution. It is also important to note that internal teams can be overwhelmed when there are a number of high priority tasks due at the same time. As a consequence, work can be of a lower quality and pushed back to a later date. With this, we should note that timelines are generally flexible and you can adapt your strategy to your workforce.
Given the current remote working environment, in-house staff and agencies have many similar qualities. While an agency can be slower at responding to tasks than in-house staff, they offer huge amount of flexibility in terms of the services and skills they offer. This allows you to alter and adapt your strategy when needed. In order to speed up response times, it is best to have one point of contact between your company and the agency. Also, make an agreement on timelines and response times before outsourcing.
Most marketers are naturally creative and design inspired, except for marketing data analysts! (just kidding). Your in-house staff will also be very familiar with your competitors and their marketing activity, helping you to take your creative campaigns to the next level. On the other hand, some marketers may lack the skills to create diverse creative campaigns that require advanced skills such as Photoshop, In-design, video editing, copy writing etc.
The fluid nature of agency work helps keep agency staff fresh and continuously on their toes. As well as this, agencies usually work with multiple businesses and industries, allowing them to draw on experiences and create innovative campaigns. The vast creative skill set of agency staff allows you to completely adapt your marketing to your specific requirements. However, it is important to note that working with an agency that works on your specific industry can cause a conflict of interest dependent on their current clients.
Employing in-house staff comes with a fixed salary. The average salary is £21,000 for junior roles, £29,000 for executive roles and £38,000 for managerial roles. It is important to keep these figures in mind when looking to expand your team. It may seem cheaper to employ one marketing role at your organisation, however, you should carefully analyse your exact marketing requirements. Along with salary, you should also think of the additional costs including hardware, office space and employee benefits.
Using an agency is a much easier process in terms of costs. Prices are usually pre-set and fully negotiable, with many overheads such as software, hardware and employees being handled by the agency. Agencies typically offer customised packages, with the option of adding on separate services whenever you need, adding flexibility.
You may feel overwhelmed by having to make such a big decision, but let’s break it down. In order to make a decision, you should carefully consider the following 5 questions:
Marketing Needs – Do you have a solid strategy that needs executing, or do you need to build a strategy? What services do you need to execute your strategy?
Skills Required – What are the exact skills needed to execute your strategy? Dooes it require software skills, design skills, advertising experience, industry experience etc.
Flexibility – Do you have the capacity to cater for a long-term employee, or do you want flexibility?
Timelines – When do you expect to see results and how quickly do you need to start? How long will you require marketing services for?
Budget – What can you afford to spend in next 3, 6 and 12 months?
If you are in a position where you know exactly what you need and whom you need, as well as the internal insfrastructure to commit long-term, then in-house marketing may be for you. On the other hand, if you require a variety of services or a specialised service over a fixed period of time, you should probably choose an agency.
Open up a conversation at your workplace and discuss with the wider team. With a holistic view of the business and a list of your goals, you’ll be able to come to a decision that works for you!