The decision of whether to build an in-house marketing team or outsource your marketing needs to an agency is one that most successful, growing businesses will come to eventually. While you might expect us to say that hiring a marketing agency is the best decision (and most often it is) our honest opinion is that it’s really is up to the business to determine what will work best for them. Deciding between these two avenues, or taking a hybrid route with a little bit of each, entirely depends on the company and their unique set of circumstances like marketing budget, goals, and in-house team already hired/qualified, just to name a few.
While there are no hard-and-fast rules to determining which marketing avenue will be best for you, we’ve laid out some additional factors to consider when evaluating your company and marketing needs. Some swing towards having an in-house marketing team, while other marketing tasks could be handled better by an agency like us at Jack & Bean. So read on and if at the end of it you’re still unsure what route is best for you, feel free to contact us. We’ll discuss your marketing goals and see what option might be a good fit for you, and give you our honest recommendations.
Your Marketing Goals
Every company and their marketing strategy is different. What might be wildly successful for one company in a specific industry could be a downright fail for another. Taking a step back and looking at your overall marketing goals and strategy is a good place to start when entering the in-house marketing vs. agency debate. If your current goal is to increase the amount of leads you’re getting, inbound marketing tactics like SEO could help increase leads. If you’re hoping to improve your ratio of leads converted into customers, then a creating or improving an email nurturing campaign might improve your results.
Taking a look at these goals can help you evaluate what steps you’ll need to go through to achieve them. If you already have talent on your marketing team that’s capable of achieving these goals, then you probably don’t need an agency’s help. Conversely, if what you’re hoping to achieve opens up a new marketing avenue that isn’t well developed within your company, an agency could help bring you up to speed quickly. If you’re not sure what you want your end goal to look like, an experienced marketing agency can strategize with you to determine that too through some billable discovery that can be invaluable.
How Quickly You Need to Develop and Execute a Marketing Strategy
Depending on your company’s situation, you might need to develop and execute a new marketing plan immediately. If your competitor rolled out a game-changing customer interface that makes their purchasing process streamlined and easy, and is noticeably resulting in your company losing sales, you’ll obviously need to react very quickly to ensure you’re staying competitive. If you go the route of posting the needed job online, collecting resumes, conducting interviews, and finally hiring someone to come in and update your website, you could lose thousands in sales by the time your company is competitive again.
This is one of the areas where a marketing agency has real firepower to jump in to quickly and efficiently make changes and updates to help your company stay competitive. If you need a new functionality added to your website, a developer at the agency can quickly implement it. If you need a new marketing campaign pushed out quickly, the various experts at an agency can work together to pull the needed assets together for a cohesive campaign.
Conversely, depending on how you build out your in-house marketing team, you could have the necessary skill sets already on your team to make updates quickly and efficiently without the need of a marketing agency. This can also largely depend on the industry you’re in. If there’s constant disruption and need for innovation, a marketing agency could be the right option to keep the marketing engine working at full speed to keep up with the constant change. It all depends on finding the solution that’s right for your company.
Skill Sets and Brainpower Needed
Piggybacking off the previous section, the skill sets and brainpower your company needs to fully execute your marketing strategy could have a big influence whether or not you choose an in-house marketing team or a marketing agency. An agency will give you access to a wide range of skill sets and additional marketing industry knowledge. Even if you don’t need, say, Google AdWords help right now, you’ll have an experienced professional (depending on your agency’s services) at your fingertips should you choose to pursue that later. This goes for other services like PR, video editing, content creation and SEO services—agencies have a wide variety of skill sets ready to help grow your business.
While you could train an in-house marketing employee on Google AdWords or any other kind of marketing service you might need down the road, it can take a while for them to get up to speed at the level an agency professional will already have. Your in-house employee’s bandwidth might already be too full to take on an extra service like AdWords as well, or to take it on enough to develop a full-fledged concerted effort on it. Of course, you could hire another employee to fill these gaps in your marketing team and if you have ample time for recruitment, this could be a long-term investment in your company. Weighing the cost of an additional employee’s salary against an agency’s fees could help you decide between the two.
One important thing to keep in mind with building an in-house marketing team is to ensure your team members have enough time and aren’t over burdened with all aspects of marketing to do their jobs well. We’ve seen marketing teams of two where one person is taking on the blogging, SEO, social media, PPC, and some design work for their company. With wearing so many hats, it was hard for that employee to dedicate enough time to one item to make it the best it could be. While it’s tempting to save costs and keep your marketing in-house, it can lead to employee burnout and a quantity, not quality, approach due to lack of time.
Industry and Company Knowledge
In-house employees will obviously be more in-tune with what’s happening in their industry, company, and will have more of a stake in the success of the business overall. If you work with in a very technical industry, let’s say finance and investing, it could be difficult to bring an outside marketing agency up to speed on all the intricacies, legal wording, and education needed to properly and accurately form a marketing plan. As a boutique content marketing agency, we’re particularly sensitive to this challenge with our specialized clients. In this case, having an in-house team who lives and breathes that industry daily and who are already intimately familiar with the ins and outs could save a lot of time. At the very least, that team can collaborate closely with an agency when necessary.
Agencies work with a variety of clients, so they’re naturally adept at writing, communicating, and formulating marketing plans for a number of different industries. This “outside” perspective could be very beneficial in getting a fresh take on things, a new opinion, and a plethora of knowledge of what’s working for companies in other industries, but that might be applicable to your company. They can attack your company’s problems with a solution you might not have thought of. So while there might be a little bit of a learning curve in the beginning, a marketing agency can largely help formulate new and exciting ideas.
Tools and Platforms
Top tier marketing agencies come equipped with all the latest and greatest tools and platforms needed to really make a marketing machine work. These can be marketing-goal specific, like Ahrefs for improving SEO, or more encompassing platforms, like the infamous HubSpot for a wide variety of marketing needs (we’re a Hubspot partner, and swear by their SaaS). Your marketing goals will largely dictate what tools and platforms will be most beneficial to use, which can help you determine what marketing agency would be a good fit based off of what they offer.
Although you can purchase these tools for an in-house marketing team, hiring a marketing agency takes a lot of the guess work out about which tools will be best for x marketing plan. An agency will also already know how to get the most out of these tools, so there’s no time wasted in getting familiar with them. Even though the cost of these subscriptions are rolled into a marketing agency’s overall price, it could save you time and money in the long run not having to weed out which tool to use and learning how to use it.
In-House Marketing vs. Marketing Agency Debate
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to the in-house vs. marketing agency debate. What works best varies from company to company—finding out what works best for yours will pay off tenfold in ensuring your marketing strategy is developed and executed properly. If you find yourself in the middle of the road between these two options, your sweet spot might be doing a combination of both. Ultimately, it’s up to the company to determine what will work best for their specific set of circumstances. If you’re having difficulty deciding which route is best, we’d be happy to discuss your marketing goals and see if a marketing agency would best help you reach them!