If you’re interested in launching a new marketing or advertising strategy, you’ll probably need some help to do it. There are a few options available to you, but it ultimately boils down to hiring an in-house team of experts to handle your marketing internally or outsourcing your marketing needs, such as designing advertisements, managing social media accounts, or link building for SEO.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll leave freelancers out of the equation and focus on whether it’s better for most businesses to hire a professional marketing agency or turn to full-time employees.
Let’s break this down by category.
Collaboration and Communication
When you hire an in-house team, you’ll have more opportunities for collaboration and communication. Assuming you work in an office environment, whenever you have a question about a campaign or want to follow up on a given topic, you can simply walk over to someone’s desk and ask them. You can also have your in-house team work closely with your other departments to produce the best assets possible for your brand.
That said, working with an agency can give you similar collaborative potential, assuming you’re working with the right partner. Generally, agencies spend time getting to know your preferences and will reach out to communicate with you as frequently or as scarcely as you like.
Branding and Control
Having an in-house team may also give you an edge when it comes to ensuring the consistency of your brand, as it’s presented across various marketing campaigns. You’ll have complete control over what your marketing team does or doesn’t do, and your team will eventually establish a level of familiarity with your brand that an agency may not be able to replicate.
Most agencies will spend time and effort getting to know your brand and are willing to compromise on any points of contention. That said, you may still be able to exert more control over an in-house team.
Expertise and Specialization
Here, agencies have an edge. Working with an agency usually means you’ll get access to a large team, filled with dozens of different employees who specialize in many different areas. Rather than hiring a single “generalist,” somewhat familiar with each of a dozen different marketing areas, you’ll have access to dozens of specialists, who each excel in one or two categories.
Overall, agencies have access to far more resources than you could get through full-time hires alone. And unless you plan on hiring many dedicated specialists, you’ll also get access to more expertise when you hire an agency.
Accountability and Troubleshooting
Your full-time, in-house hires will be incentivized to do a good job, but only to the extent they keep their job; because it’s hard to replace a full-time worker, they may be more tempted to cut corners. Agencies, on the other hand, know the value of client retention and will work actively to ensure you remain satisfied with their work. Accordingly, agencies tend to take more accountability when something goes wrong with a campaign; they’ll be more proactive in making sure you get the results you want, and that you’re happy with the services you pay for.
Incidentally, agencies also tend to be better at troubleshooting campaigns; they have more experts on hand to analyze the problem and brainstorm a potential solution.
Scalability and Flexibility
A good marketing campaign is one that increases your brand’s reputation, visibility, and reach, but as these qualities increase, you’ll need more marketing resources and strategies to keep up. Accordingly, it’s in your best interest to find a marketing solution that’s both flexible and scalable.
Agencies tend to be more scalable than in-house teams; because they have robust teams and lots of clients, you can usually choose one of several different tiers of services to utilize. As your business grows, you won’t need to start scouting for new people to hire or overburden your existing team; you can simply invest in the next package deal.
You’ll also want to consider the costs. Hiring full-time employees and enrolling in monthly agency services are both expensive, but overall, agencies tend to be more cost-efficient. You’ll save money on benefits and administrative costs, and will have access to more experienced, more skilled workers with an agency. Over time, you’ll see a much higher return with an experienced agency than you will with an in-house team (in most situations), so even if the costs are similar, agencies tend to be a more cost-efficient choice.
The Bottom Line
There are strengths and weaknesses to each approach you’ll need to consider, and every business will have a different selection of goals and needs. However, for most businesses in most circumstances, it’s more advantageous to hire a marketing agency than it is to try and build an in-house team from scratch.