Agency or In-House Marketing Team: Which Is Better for Business?
Any company that wants to grow needs to take their marketing efforts seriously. Successful marketing is both comprehensive and consistent, which is why it yields desired results. In this article, we share important pros and cons of various levels of marketing services to help you determine what kind of marketing is best for your business goals.
For this article, we only consider strategic, ongoing marketing efforts. This means we won’t be addressing one-off projects that might require the hiring of a web designer or photographer. In the end, this blog can help you decide whether to hire a marketing agency, create an in-house marketing team, or utilize a hybrid model.
Partnering With a Marketing Agency
Any type of business will benefit from hiring a marketing agency, but it’s especially beneficial for small and medium businesses, who may not be positioned to hire a professional in-house team with sufficient marketing experience and expertise.
Pros of Working with a Marketing Agency
Expertise: Marketing agencies have a breadth of knowledge in multiple areas of marketing. Because of their vast knowledge and skill set, they are able to create professional campaigns with goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics. Furthermore, they are then able to plan, implement, and monitor those campaigns.
From years of creating multiple campaigns for various clients in different industries, marketing agencies have irreplaceable practical experience in what works and what doesn’t. Therefore, agencies are better suited to anticipate problems and troubleshoot solutions (which can also save the client’s reputation, not to mention time and money).
Having a multidisciplinary team with talents in different areas allows an agency to offer the marketing mix that produces nearly any deliverable and achieves any outcome . . . for any kind of company.
If you plan to grow your business, but you are not yet where you want to be, an agency can easily scale your marketing efforts to match your budget and then increase your campaigns when it’s the right time to do so.
Advanced Tools and Technology:
Agencies have access to specialized tools that optimize every part of your marketing campaign with no additional cost to you. These tools include everything from design software and analytic programs to state-of-the-art computers, video production, and print capabilities.
Access to Resources and Providers:
Agencies constantly work with external companies in advertising and media relations. These connections will get you better and faster deals than what you could have negotiated on your own.
Cons of Working with a Marketing Agency
Finding the Right Fit:
Partnering with an agency is a big commitment. It may be a hard decision to choose one over the other, and choosing the wrong agency could generate lasting problems for your brand. We recommend you take your time, do your research (ask previous clients about their experience), and make an informed decision.
Potential Conflicts of Interest:
A marketing agency you prefer might already have contracts to work with competing companies in your industry. It’s a smart and savvy legal move to address and clarify any potential conflicts upfront.
Agencies tend to set flat rates for consistent deliverables (the same tasks done each month on a retainer) or an hourly rate for the work they do. If you want additional tasks or to make modifications to what has already been agreed upon, you will probably incur additional costs.
What Is an In-House Marketing Team?
An “in-house” marketing team is when a company has people on staff whose sole responsibility revolves around marketing that company, and that company alone. For example, an insurance company might have brokers, auditors, and managers, but if they have an in-house marketing team—those are employees who specialize in marketing and work to promote that insurance company and their products on a daily basis.
The ability to afford an in-house marketing team is usually reserved for big companies that have the need (an ongoing large amount of diverse marketing materials for multiple campaigns and target audiences) and budget to manage their marketing internally.
Pros of an In-House Marketing Team
An in-house team is more familiar with the brand, since their marketing efforts are 100% devoted to that company. They are often physically present at the company, spending time with the company staff, hearing the “voice” of the company everyday. Also, they tend to use the products firsthand, and never work for another company that might divide their attention.
In-house teams have the flexibility to start, stop, and change campaigns at any moment without needing to ask an outside agency for a new quote or wait for an agency’s calendar to open up—all of which results in faster delivery time.
In-house agencies are “closer to the product” and ready to market at all times. For example, they don’t have to wait for an email letting them know that Bob had delivered a great presentation at a national trade show. Why not? Because Bob knows he had provided valuable insights, generated lots of leads, and is ready to post spur-of-the-moment content—like a TikTok reel or Facebook story.
Cons of an In-House Marketing Team
Let’s go back to the example of the insurance company. While experts in their field—and super knowledgeable about all kinds of insurance policies, premiums, and coverage—does anyone on staff know enough about marketing to hire the right people for their in-house marketing team? Can they properly assess the qualities of a graphic designer, copywriter, digital marketer, video producer, web developer, or a social media manager? Chances are, most of these positions and skill sets are too far out of the insurance area of expertise that the HR department won’t be sure if they are hiring the right people for each position.
The previous point means there may be several cases of hiring the wrong people. They had a resume that said the thing, but their skill set just didn’t hit the mark. Having to fire people is expensive, difficult, and could damage employee morale.
For every person on your in-house team, you have to factor in recruiting costs, salary (wage, benefits, insurance, 401K, etc.), physical space in your company, training, hardware (computers, cameras, etc.), software licenses, and more. The costs add up—and fast.
You may need to hire new people for every new type of campaign. If you want to do something you’ve never done before, your in-house team may not have the experience or the equipment to do it properly. Hiring new people with a new skill set or buying additional hardware and software just adds more to the budget.
Hybrid Marketing Model
Given all of this information, many midsize to big companies opt for a hybrid model, where part of the marketing is done in house and part is done by partnering with a marketing agency.
Although the personnel configuration varies with each company, many businesses with the means to do so will employ a full-time marketing director with a great understanding of the brand, in depth knowledge of the company’s goals and needs, and enough knowledge to be the right liaison between the company and the outside marketing agency.
Companies also choose to have some in-house team members for specific tasks or projects that are extremely detail-oriented, time-sensitive, or require the employee to be physically on site at the company.
How to Choose the Best Marketing Option for You
Here’s a short list of things you need to consider when evaluating your options. What feels more natural and realistic for you and your business objectives? Partnering with a marketing agency or building an in-house marketing team?
For more insight on options, check out our Liquid Marketing Podcast “Generalists vs. Specialists.”
Before you decide, be sure to research the following for clear data on your company’s current health:
How much do you have available to spend on marketing?
What’s the most important thing to market right now? Do you need brand awareness, to get your name out there? Do you need a website? Maybe you need leads so you can sell products?
Have you found an agency that does good work and has great communication/customer service? Do you vibe well with their team? How much do they cost?
Do you have enough people on your team right now who have the right expertise to meet your marketing objectives? If not, the money spent on a marketing budget or new hires might be wasted.
If you need help choosing an option or are in the research stage for hiring an outside marketing agency, contact Liquid Creative. We’re here to answer any questions you might have—and, ultimately, help propel your brand through inspired and adaptive marketing, whatever your business, whatever your need.