Article

Courtney Baird-Lew
Courtney Baird-Lew 26 March 2018

In-House vs Agency Marketing: Which One is Best for You?

During a certain period in a business’s life, the inevitable question will pop-up: in-house or agency marketing? First of all, there is no right or wrong. The answer depends on a variety of factors directly related to your business, and where you’re looking to take it in the future.

Let’s break it down: in-house marketing involves people paid by your company, who work exclusively for your company. To run a formidable in-house marketing team, many crucial roles need to be filled. There is the marketing manager, content writer, SEO and Analytics Expert, Social Media Manager, Paid Ads specialist, CRO-focused designer, and developer -- to name just a few. A team composed of a few individuals who will dedicate time to one element of the complex marketing game will be crucial.

An agency will be composed of experts for hire. An agency, whether it specializes in PR, design, content marketing, digital marketing, etc, can be an indispensable resource that is less expensive than most would believe.

And, of course, a blend of both is entirely possible. Here are how the two compare: 

SKILLSET

Noun, a group of skill or abilities required to successfully complete a given job or project.

In-House

  • In-house employees are paid to live and breath your brand, and to have a keen understanding of your given industry. They are also personally vetted and chosen by your business, rather than an outside source.

  • It is rare to find an in-house marketer who is adept at all aspects of digital marketing. And if they are, it may be too much work for one person, or one small group of people to handle.

Agency

  • You will need to bring an agency up to speed with your brand or business, even if you are choosing an agency with a good track record within your industry.

  • Research and pitching need to be done on your end to find an agency that works best for your timeline and set goals. You may end up having to work with multiple boutique agencies -- rather than one all-encompassing one -- in order to get the results you want.

  • There are (usually) many more skilled individuals on hand. While this does not necessarily mean that their skills are more developed, there is a bigger diversity of skill sets to choose from.

Which is better?

It depends entirely on your business. If you can afford to hire a multitude of people with different skill sets - and have enough work for all of them - then an in-house marketing team would be the best choice. If you only need one aspect managed, hiring a single in-house employee works as well. If you are looking to develop a complete, top-to-bottom marketing strategy, an agency may make more sense. 

CREATIVITY

Noun, the use of the imagination to develop original ideas.

In-House

  • Marketers are naturally creative and are attracted to diversity. It’s easy for creative minds to get bored. Having an in-house team solely devoted to you may stagnate creativity, given that they are focused on one project, rather than multiple.

  • In-house marketers, however, will have a deep understanding of your direct competitors.

Agency

  • The agency marketer has several unique client accounts that they work with daily. Their minds are fresh and always moving, given that they are exposed to a wide variety of businesses and industries.

  • It is, however, possible that they have similar clients that are direct competitors to you, which could lead to a conflict of interest.

Which is better?

There is no better or worse. If you notice that your in-house team is in a rut, or if you’re looking to develop a campaign that is not suited to the skills of your in-house team, an agency would be a good way to go. 

ADAPTABILITY

Noun, the ability to adapt to situations and tasks that are subject to change.

In-House

  • The in-house team is, well, in-house. They are the desk or office beside you, which makes for a quick back and forth.

  • You can have high-profile tasks pushed to the top of the agenda quickly and efficiently if your team drops everything at once.

  • Internal teams can be overburdened if given too many high-priority tasks at the same time. In this case, however, timelines are more malleable, and your in-house employee will be able to handle a task from start to finish.

Agency

  • While an agency can be much slower than having a team on-hand, depending on their workload and client list, an agency can have a beneficial ‘outside’ perspective.

  • You may have to wait your turn, given that they also have other clients on their roster.

  • Tasks coordination usually happens between a representative from your company and one from an agency. This is the best way to communicate quickly, and fluidly.

Which is better?

Speed is relative and will be defined by the project. If constant communication is at the top of your agenda, and if you suspect that your project or campaign will shift often, consider going with a team that you pay to have on-hand.

COST

Noun; an amount that has to be paid or spent to buy or obtain something.

In-House

  • One marketing manager has a median annual salary of about $62,560. Take this number into consideration when hiring one manager, or multiple marketing specialists full time.

  • The cost of each campaign will depend entirely on your marketing needs. Crunch your numbers before making a decision.

  • It may seem less expensive to hire a single, on-hand employee for your marketing strategy, but expect a long hiring process, training, and guaranteeing that a person fits properly over a set period of time.

  • Aside from salary, you will be budgeting for office space, benefits (if you choose to offer them), computers, and programs if they need.

Agency

  • There is a pre-set -- and negotiable -- price in place when it comes to an agency.

  • An agency pays for its own software, tools, tech, and training, which cuts any extra costs on your end. 

Which is better?

The cost will depend on your company. Hiring an agency, however, while seen as more expensive, can actually be the cheaper option, in the long run, depending on your goals and what skills you require.

SUMMARY

Break down your goals, your needs, and know that you can have a combination of both!

If you’re still unsure as to which you should go with, consider this: would you rent or buy a house? This, of course, depends on a variety of factors, such as the time you’re hoping to stay there, how much your down payment would be, and if you’re looking to commit rather than keeping your options open.

Open communication with your existing in-house team, establishing their skill sets, and outsourcing when you need fresher ideas is a great outlook to have when deciding between in-house and agency marketing.

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