It’s easy to get overwhelmed weighing the pros and cons of in-house marketing vs agency

You know consistent marketing is crucial to growing your business.

But you’re worried you’ll waste your limited time and resources on subpar work that doesn’t improve your bottom line.

So, what’s a busy entrepreneur to do?

Do you hire in-house employees to spearhead your marketing efforts — even if it requires a hefty salary and a time-consuming onboarding process? Or do you outsource your marketing to an agency and hope they deliver on their promises? 

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to choosing an agency vs in-house marketing. In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of both options. Then, if you choose to outsource your marketing, we’ll cover three questions you must ask first.  

In-house marketing vs agency: Which is best for your business?

There are specific pros to in-house marketing and agencies. Let’s take a look at both options so that you can make the best decision for your business.

The pros of in-house marketing

1. Brand familiarity

Your brand is your business, and your business is your brand

When you invest in your in-house marketing, you build a team that aligns with your company’s vision and values so that you can seamlessly integrate your unique brand personality throughout your marketing. 

While the best marketing agencies will learn about your brand personality and objectives, no one will understand it as intimately as you and your in-house team.

2. Ability to build your dream team

Hire a large agency, and you might not know who is in charge of your campaigns. Build an in-house team, however, and you can assemble your dream ensemble of marketers. 

3. Accessibility

Not all agencies have the ability to communicate and collaborate quickly. With an in-house team, you have more immediate control over your marketing strategy, so you can promptly pivot when necessary. 

The pros of a marketing agency

1. Affordability

At first glance, hiring a skilled marketing agency might seem pricey, but here’s what I want you to keep in mind: 

When you hire an in-house marketing team, your costs will likely include:

  • Salaries
  • Benefits
  • Training
  • Equipment + software
  • Paid holidays and overtime

That’s a lot of overhead! Before you rule out an agency due to the investment, take a sec to do the maths. You might be surprised at how much the right marketing expert can save and make you when debating in-house marketing vs agency.

2. Perspective

Have you heard the expression, “You can’t read the label from inside the jar?”

Put another way: you can’t solve your problems when you are too close to them. 

Any reputable marketing agency will ask questions and challenge assumptions so that they can evaluate your marketing with fresh eyes. 

The right agency will also combine cutting-edge strategies with cross-industry knowledge so you and your team get relevant, growth-driven tactics you have yet to consider. 

3. Flexibility

As your business grows, so too will your marketing needs. An agency makes it easy to scale up or down. 

Say you want to run a one-off campaign. With an agency, it’s easy to take on extra projects without overwhelming your in-house team with too much work and not enough resources. 

Three questions to ask when deciding in-house marketing vs agency

Regarding in-house marketing vs agency, it’s crucial to look at your unique business needs. These three questions will help: 

1. How mature is my business?

The younger your business and the tighter your budget, the more you should outsource your marketing. 

This might sound counterintuitive. Maybe you’re thinking, “Shouldn’t I wait to outsource my marketing until I have a larger budget?”

Here’s the thing: 

You need to work within your zone of genius to grow your business. And, as mentioned above, once you factor in overhead, it’s almost always more expensive to hire talent than to outsource your marketing. 

Also, your marketing team must have a solid knowledge of an extensive range of skills. From copywriting and content creation to SEO and SEM to branding and graphic design… the list goes on!

When you’re early in your start-up journey, it’s much easier to outsource specific campaigns as needed than it is to find one person (or even a small team) to handle the full scope of your ever-changing needs.

2. What are my most profitable marketing channels?

If you have profitable marketing channels that deliver high ROI, continue to manage these activities in-house. 

Your in-house team already deeply understands how your top-performing marketing activities influence your brand, inform your company culture, and impact your customer experience. 

So, leave your most profitable marketing activities to your in-house team and consider outsourcing the rest. 

3. How complex is my product or service?

Generally speaking, the more complex your product or service, the more in-house marketing your company will require. Highly technical industries require specific knowledge that might be difficult to find in an outside agency. 

A skilled in-house marketing team is also a wise investment if you have a long purchase cycle or if marketing is a primary growth driver. 

In-house marketing vs agency: The hybrid option

Many organisations utilise an agency and an in-house marketing team — the hybrid option. This is a smart way to customise your marketing to your goals. 

I strongly suggest finding a fractional CMO if you choose a hybrid strategy and don’t have a CMO. You’ll get the high-level marketing leadership you need to streamline communication and cross-channel marketing efforts so that you can scale your business more quickly. 

Whether you outsource some or all of your marketing, you’ll want to choose an agency with a proven track record — a trusted partner who will help you scale quickly and profitably.