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Which is Better: Hiring a Marketing Agency or an In-House Team?

on July 19, 2019

marketing team working together
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Marketing is essential for businesses today, but there is the question of whether to hire an in-house team or to work with a marketing agency. An in-house team might seem like a good choice, as this ensures the team members are interested in the company and how well it does, but it is expensive and can be time-consuming to get everything up and running. Working with an agency, on the other hand, makes it easier to get everything up and running quickly, and allows the company to take advantage of working with specialists that already have years of experience. Before making any decision on who to hire, it’s a good idea to look at the benefits, cons, and costs of both options and see which one will be better for the business.

marketing team working together

Benefits of an In-House Team

An in-house marketing team provides several benefits for businesses today. With an in-house team, it’s possible to make sure everything is aligned properly so branding is consistent throughout the marketing and so the company values are upheld through all of the marketing tasks. It’s also possible to enact marketing changes faster in some cases, as the specialists who are needed for the changes are at the office and ready to work. The business will have more control over the campaigns run by an in-house marketing team and can reduce the possibility of any conflict of interest.

In-house teams also know the product better than a marketing agency, and they can use that knowledge to boost the marketing that is done for the products. They thoroughly understand every part of the business because they work for the business, so they understand the company values as well as any requirements the company might have for their products, their marketing, or their branding. Specialists who are extremely good at what they do can be a part of an in-house team, meaning the marketing is more impactful than it might be otherwise.

Cons of an In-House Team

While there are benefits to hiring an in-house marketing team, there are some cons as well. An in-house marketing team can be very expensive, as many different specialists need to be hired. The business would need to pay multiple recruitment fees, salaries of each of the specialists, as well as the onboarding and training costs. If the wrong person is hired, it can be expensive to start over again looking for a specialist that is a better fit. All of this is time-consuming as well, which means it takes longer before the in-house team can start working together on the marketing for the business.

Another big con is getting everyone on the team to work together seamlessly. Specialists may be great at what they do but may have trouble getting everything to go together to present a solid marketing plan that spans all the different types of marketing. When you have so many specialists who are new to working with each other, there can be some growing pains as everyone figures out how to get all of the marketing to come together properly. This, again, takes a lot of time that could otherwise be spent working on creating new marketing plans for the business.

In-House marketing team pros and cons

Who is Needed to Handle Marketing?

The marketing for a business requires services from a variety of specialists. This means the business has to hire someone for each part of the marketing to ensure everything is up to par and to enable more creativity, so the marketing is as effective as possible. The number of specialists and the types will vary based on the size of the business and the services the business needs.

Larger businesses will typically need an SEO specialist, a content manager and copywriter, a social media manager, and a public relations manager. They’ll also need a front-end web developer, a website designer, a graphic designer, a web analytics specialist, and a marketing analytics specialist. This covers everything from creating a website to marketing the website and the business.

Smaller businesses will typically require a chief marketing officer, a vice president of marketing, a digital marketing manager, and a social media marketing manager. They’ll also need a graphic designer, marketing communications manager, and a marketing communications specialist.

Mid-sized businesses may start with the in-house team typically used for a smaller business but will quickly need to upsize their marketing team to look more like the one used for larger businesses as they will need more people working on the marketing, so it has a much larger reach. Though they may save some money working with a smaller in-house team, in the beginning, their costs will go up as they move towards a larger team.

in house marketing team small business vs big business

Recruiting an In-House Team

The in-house team needs to be recruited by the business, which means careful selection of each of the specialists chosen to work on the marketing. Recruitment starts with posting job ads on professional networking sites, job boards, and in other locations. The further the job ads can reach, the more likely it is the business can find a large selection of candidates to choose from. Once the job ads are posted, the business needs to screen each of the resumes to find a smaller selection that might be a good fit.

From there, the business needs to interview each of the candidates. Many times, potential candidates will go through a few different interviews, with the pool getting smaller each time. Background checks need to be run on each of the potential candidates to ensure there aren’t potential issues. Then, once the right candidates are chosen, the business needs to do the on-boarding and training for each of the specialists they hire. This whole process can be expensive and will take a lot of time. However, it is crucial for the business to go through the recruitment process cautiously, so they find the right specialists to hire.

Cost of Hiring an In-House Marketing Team

The time it takes to hire an in-house marketing team isn’t the only downside to carefully consider. The cost can be prohibitive as well. In 2015, it required an average of $4,000 to hire each specialist for an in-house marketing team. For smaller businesses or mid-sized businesses just getting started, that could lead to around $28,000 just for the hiring process. And, that’s assuming that all of the new hires end up working out. Around 41% of the companies interviewed in a recent survey said that hiring someone that ended up being a bad fit for the company cost them around $25,000.

Once the right candidates are chosen, the salary needs to be offered. The salary will vary, depending on the position and the experience of the specialist. With a small-sized in-house team, the total salaries could be between $337,000 and $947,000. For the large business sized team, the total salaries could be between $742,000 and $1,020,000. This is the yearly cost for just the salary of the in-house marketing team and does not include anything beyond the salary.

bar graph cost of in house marketing team

Additional Costs for In-House Team

While the salaries for an in-house team might fit in the average budget for a mid-sized business, especially if they start with a small-sized marketing team, there are other costs to consider as well. Benefits are a huge part of this. Businesses need to consider the costs of paid leave, insurance for employees, retirement and savings costs, and the legally required benefits that they must provide all employees. Legally required benefits include social security, Medicare, federal and state unemployment insurance, and worker’s compensation. These costs need to be paid each year, so they are an ongoing expense of having an in-house marketing team.

There are other expenses that many businesses might not really consider when they’re thinking of hiring an in-house team. These employees will be working in the office, so more on-going expenses need to be built into the budget. These expenses include ongoing training, desks for each of the new employees, laptops or computers as well as monitors, other digital equipment they may require, and miscellaneous office costs like phone services or the internet. Also, there may be monthly tool subscriptions that are essential for marketing as well as additional office supplies that will be used because there are now more employees working for the business.

Benefits of a Marketing Agency

Marketing agencies provide several benefits to businesses today. They provide vetted hires, which means the business doesn’t need to worry about the screening and recruitment process or the training period. They already have the background and experience necessary to work on the marketing for the business and know how to work together to get everything done properly and quickly. They also already have all of the tools needed for the marketing, so the business doesn’t need to worry about ongoing costs like paying for monthly subscriptions. Between the recruitment process and the supplies needed, this could save the business a significant amount of money.

A marketing agency also offers a multitude of professionals for a single monthly cost. Businesses have access to marketing assistance from SEO specialists, copywriters, graphic designers, marketing analysts, and social media managers, so all aspects of their marketing plan will be handled by a specialist. Each specialist working with the marketing team already has years of experience working in their field and knows how to work together. There is no time needed for everyone to settle in their position within the business or to learn how to cooperate, so the marketing plan is as effective as possible. They simply jump in and get started. The marketing team also tracks the trends in digital marketing, ensuring the business is using cutting-edge technology and techniques throughout the marketing plan.

Cons of a Marketing Agency

Though a marketing agency is often touted as the best option for businesses, there are downsides to consider carefully before making any decision. A marketing agency does cost less than an in-house marketing team, but they may not handle everything the business needs with one monthly cost. Though add-ons are generally available, the business may need to budget for the additional tasks they need to have done. This could increase the price significantly, depending on the preferences and needs of the business.

Another downside to consider is that the specialists work for the marketing agency, not for the business. While this isn’t often a problem, it does mean that the specialists are not as knowledgeable about the products, the branding, or the other components of the business. They can typically adapt their work to meet the needs of the business, but there is a learning curve here as they get to know all aspects of the business while they work on the marketing.

Who is Part of a Marketing Agency?

A marketing agency employs many specialists that may be needed by the business for marketing the business. These specialists include an SEO specialist, a content manager, a copywriter, a social media manager, and a public relations manager. They also have a front-end web developer, web designer, graphic designer, and marketing analytics specialist. Each of these specialists has an important job to do for the marketing of a business, and they all work together for the common goal of helping the business market more efficiently and more thoroughly.

The agency may offer assistance from other specialists as well, depending on the agency and the needs of the business. They generally offer everything a business will need for the marketing, though it’s all in one package deal instead of the business needing to hire their own specialists. The main benefit to this is that mid-sized businesses with a smaller budget can work with a large-sized team without having to pay the salaries and added costs of having that team to work in-house. Due to the on-time and ongoing costs of hiring in-house specialists for a large-sized marketing team, this could lead to huge savings for the business.

who is part of a marketing agency

What a Marketing Agency Handles

Marketing agencies focus on offering a complete range of marketing methods and plans for businesses. The key to the work a marketing agency does is the branding. They can create the branding for the business, ensure it is consistent throughout all of the marketing, and make sure it gets the right message across to consumers.

Marketing agencies also work on the interactive components of a marketing plan. This includes websites, email marketing, mobile apps, and search engine optimization. They ensure the marketing is done through as many channels as possible and that it is possible for consumers to reach the business in a way that’s preferable for them.

Social media and public relations are also handled by a full-service marketing agency. They can work on content marketing, monitoring social media accounts, and running promotions or contests through social media to increase consumer engagement. They also assist with blogging, media relations, and hosting events.

Marketing agencies handle everything related to marketing for the business, enabling a cohesive approach to each aspect, so it all works together and provides a clean, clear image to all consumers. This helps bring in more leads, create more customers, and encourage repeat customers, so the business continues to grow. All of this is essential when marketing a business and, when it’s handled by a team of specialists, can be very effective.

Costs of Working with a Marketing Agency

When it comes to working with a marketing agency, there are no hidden costs to worry about. Unlike an in-house team, there are no worries about paying for internet service, purchasing desks, buying standard office supplies, and other costs that would increase by having more employees in the building. There’s also no worry about on-going employment costs such as insurance and benefits as these are covered by the agency. Since the specialists are employed by the agency, it is the agency that pays for the legally required benefits like Medicare and worker’s compensation. This helps bring down the cost for businesses, especially for mid-sized businesses who want to work with a larger marketing team to improve the results.

In general, working with a marketing agency can cost between $2,500 and $25,000 per month. This is a huge range, but that is because it depends on the size of the agency, the services they offer, the experience of the specialists working on the team, and more. This fee, however, is a set fee and doesn’t change unless operating expenses increase significantly for the agency or the business decides to add on more services. Extra services can be added once or on an on-going basis.

bar graph cost of in house vs marketing agency comparison

Choosing Additional Services with a Marketing Agency

Marketing agencies also offer many add-on services that businesses can take advantage of, beyond the ones that are included with their monthly service fee. Businesses who want to focus on internet marketing may look into add-on services designed to help with SEO, content marketing, content creation, or social media. They may also want to see if there are additional services available for web development, graphic design, web analytics, or public relations.

On top of the on-going services businesses can add to their basic plan, there are one-time services the business may be interested in. If they do not have a website yet, the marketing agency will be able to create one for them. This allows them to make sure the branding is consistent between the website and the marketing as everything will be done by one agency. Other one-time services they might want to look into include branding consultations, market research, or social media setup services.

The costs for additional services vary and can depend on the work needed, whether it’s a one-time or on-going service, as well as other factors. On-going services can add $30,000 to $180,000 per year to the marketing costs for the business, depending on what is needed. One-time services can cost up to $200,000, depending on the type of service and the scope. Businesses will want to carefully plan both of these expenses into their marketing budget to ensure they have everything they need for a solid marketing plan.

So, Which One is Better?

Which one is better is going to depend on the business and their needs. Mid-sized businesses can benefit from working with an in-house marketing agency, but this can be very expensive and can cut into their budgets for other areas. Instead, they may want to consider working with a marketing agency. While the specialists won’t be working at the office with them, collaboration today is easy with a variety of online tools, and they’ll be able to save money on the costs of marketing the business.

Overall, a marketing agency provides many of the same benefits as an in-house team, but it is far less expensive and easier to get everything up and running. There’s no need for recruiting new employees, for initial and ongoing training, or for hiring new specialists every time a new service is needed. They can find a marketing agency that offers everything they need, including add-on services they might want to take advantage of in the future and start working with the agency on their marketing plan.

As a business owner, it’s important to make sure every decision is carefully examined before finalizing. With marketing, there is a lot to think about. The services typically offered by an in-house team and a marketing agency might be similar, but the many differences can end up making one type a clear choice over the other. Mid-sized businesses today are more likely to look into working with a marketing agency because of the speed of getting started as well as the lowered cost for the same services. Once they find a marketing agency they want to work with, there’s no worry about having to go through a long process to hire new employees or to start marketing the business. Instead, they can start working with the marketing agency and have the exact help they need right away. 

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