Marketing agency vs In-house: Which is Best for Your Company?


Ray Slater Berry

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: May 20, 2021

In your early growth years, it can be hard to identify your team structure. How to build a marketing team is often a major business hurdle. You need to weigh up a lot of factors when deciding what’s best for your business growth and the type of company you want, or are able, to build. 

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This article will guide you through the questions you need to ask when deciding if you should build an in-house marketing team, or consider outsourcing an external marketing agency. It will also present you with the Pros and Cons of both growth strategies. 

5 Questions to Ask When Deciding Whether to Have an In-House Marketing Team or Outsource a Marketing Agency

1. What are your global growth plans?

You need to ask what your global marketing growth plans are for your business. This doesn’t just include the markets you want to explore and start selling to. It includes how quickly you intend on expanding as well.

Lay expectations alongside your own in-house marketing team’s capabilities and that of a marketing agency. Does your current team have the resources or the ability to open in these new markets? Do they have the knowledge and expertise to sell to them? Do they even know the language?

This is worth considering when you know you want to grow. New markets will often mean new employees or a lot of training and research done by your current department. This is absolutely fine but be prepared to put other priorities on hold because of it. Either way, you need to find a marketing route that suits your growth plan and future timeline.

2. What’s your marketing budget?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to numbers. How much are you willing to, or how much can you actually spend? Try to build spend into the accounting process for your department. Is it realistic to take on a marketing agency at the rates they are charging or does it work out as more financially viable for you to recruit in-house?

When it comes to recruitment there’s a lot more you need to consider, you’re not merely looking at an extra salary a year but all the time and costs that go around recruiting. Plus, if you want the best you have to be prepared to pay for the best. High-flying marketing agencies usually have costs to match.

Ask yourself what your budget is and how much of your business budget you are willing to invest in marketing.

3. What experience do you need?

Experience is in line with your budget. More experienced employees will, of course, cost you more. However, with a marketing agency, you’re going on the agency’s experience as a whole.

What you don’t have control over is the talent a marketing agency gives you from within their own house. Perhaps you’re paying for a top marketing agency but a junior level role is assigned to your account.

Really consider the level of experience you need to sell your product and take that into account when deciding on building an in-house marketing team or outsourcing.

Also, Read: Top 4 Digital Marketing Trends That Will Shape 2020

4. What type of company culture do you want to build?

Company culture is crucial in attracting candidates. It can go as far as winning you new leads, as people are attracted to your brand and your brand story over a competitor that offers a similar product.

The type of culture you build will be determined by how you chose to build your marketing team. If you outsource to a marketing agency you can’t expect to treat your account managers the same way you treat your employees. Don’t expect them to turn up to staff events, don’t consider them on the invite list for team building days, you are paying for a service, not a team.

However, if you hire an in-house marketing team you can expect them to be part of and actively contribute towards your company’s culture.

5. Do you need something long or short-term?

This is a big question to ask and there’s not always one answer to it. Do your marketing efforts need a long or short-term solution? Something short-term could be an extra push in a new market with a marketing campaign, an implementation of a marketing sales tool like an answer bot or maybe you just need a temporary fix because your internal team is not where it needs to be. In this case, an outsourced marketing team can be the best solution.

Normally, after a few calls and onboarding, you can hand over the work to the marketing agency and let them take the weight off your chest. However, this may not be the most sustainable option for you financially.

People often lean towards full-time employees for long-term marketing teams. You’re able to invest in the individuals and upgrade their own knowledge or skill-sets to benefit your business.

Look at your company’s current situation and determine what you need done right now and what you want to be done over the course of the coming years. This should help you determine whether to go for an in-house marketing team or outsource to a marketing agency

Also, Read: The 7 Challenges of Digital Marketing Transformation In 2020

Pros & Cons of Outsourcing With a Marketing Agency 

  • You can have the power of an entire team without the cost: Whether you’re looking for a B2B marketing agency or B2C, when outsourcing to top marketing agencies, your work will always be delegated to the team member/s that are best equipped to handle it.
  • You can have new market knowledge that may be hard to find in your current, geographical location: If you’re shooting for a big marketing agency the chances are they have multiple teams across the globe. If you’re going for a smaller marketing agency then you can go for one that specializes on the market you’re looking to grow in.
  • You can set strict campaign budgets: Marketing agencies are used to sticking to budgets. They’ve also developed various media partners throughout the years. Top digital marketing agencies have a higher chance of winning a better media buying deal than your own marketing team.
  • You’ll always have reports to reflect on: Reports are second nature to marketing agencies and are often included in agency marketing services as a standard. It can be a lot harder for internal marketing teams to report as other work comes up and has a higher priority.
  • You risk losing company culture: As we mentioned earlier, you can’t rely on employees of a marketing agency to contribute towards your business as passionately as employees will.
  • Not always a sustainable, financial, long-term option: It’s like comparing renting a property to buying a property. By having a marketing agency you are renting their services but you’re never working towards investing in something more long-term, like an employee.
  • You may be deprioritized for bigger clients: It pains me to say, but if you’re not as big of a brand or aren’t paying as much then you’ll be deprioritized for other clients. This can be in terms of the talent you receive on your account or the deadlines and timeframes applied to projects.
  • You’ll need to be prepared for copious amounts of calls: Taking on an agency means copious amounts of meetings to make sure everything is aligned. It’s hard enough to get two people in a room in the same office. Now imagine two teams in a room across two offices.
  • Work won’t always be as you had envisioned it: If the agency doesn’t receive a thorough onboarding and especially if they’re not given the opportunity to experience your product like an employee would in training, then they may not fully understand it.

Pros & Cons of an In-House Marketing Team

  • Your company culture will feel it: Employees add toward a company culture, they’ll adopt the culture you’ve built into the work they create.
  • It’s a more financially viable option in the long-term: Investing in people is one of the best decisions you can make. Find talent, train talent and retain it to better your business.
  • You’re able to recruit people that are passionate about your product or service: Employees work for you because they believe in your brand and your service. Agencies work for you because you pay them to.
  • You’ll be able to communicate with them more often: There’s no doubt you’ll have more access opportunities to speak with your own staff than you would with an agency team. Especially if you’re sharing the same office, coworking space or work schedule.
  • You’re more likely to get something that’s on-brand: Employees get a better opportunity to understand your product or brand with rigorous onboarding and being surrounded by company culture.
  • They’re more likely to go over budget on campaigns: An in-house marketing team won’t have had the opportunity to build relationships with media buying companies. Their decisions can sometimes be clouded by their passion to see your product succeed.
  • There are a lot of costs to bringing on new-hires: A recruiter’s time and commission (if you’re outsourcing those), taxes, insurance, employee benefits, extra accounts in SaaS platforms… There are a lot of costs besides a salary when bringing on an employee.
  • They may not always have the talent or resources you need: As great as an internal marketing team is, they may not always have what your company needs. This means you’ll have to go about training or hiring a new member of staff. If a marketing agency doesn’t have the talent you need, they’ll find it to get the work done and won’t charge you any extra.

The choice is yours!

Ray Slater Berry is a content strategist at Outreach Humans, and has been working in social media and content marketing for eight years. He specializes in the tech, innovation and travel sectors. He has also recently published his first work of fiction, Golden Boy.

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