News and insights • Posted on 03 August 2018

In-house marketing vs agency - which is right for your business?

Many businesses inevitably find themselves facing the all-important question of whether to outsource marketing efforts or build a dedicated team within the company. In the age-old debate of in-house marketing vs agency, we consider why the decision can be a complicated one and should take on board a number of factors.

The importance of marketing for any business shouldn’t be disputed. It’s vital for brand awareness and recognition, promoting services and ultimately (and most importantly) growth. In fact, so crucial is a well-implemented marketing strategy that if you’re without, your business is unlikely to make progress.

If you’re at a crossroads deliberating whether to create a marketing team in-house or outsource the work to an agency, there’s simply no right or wrong answer. It’ll depend not only on your business’ needs, budget, near-future plans and long-term objectives, but also on the personality of your brand and its sense of identity.

Whether you’re a new business considering marketing resources and questioning which direction to take or you’ve previously gone one way or the other and are wondering if a change could add more value to your business, we’ve outlined some key considerations that should be at the forefront of your decision.

Skillset and expertise

When it comes to online marketing, there are a vast range of skills required for its broad spectrum of activity. If you hire an agency, you can draw on the know-how and expertise of a team of specialists. Paid search, content marketing, PR, social media and web design, for example, can all be taken care of by masters who’ll work alongside each other for the best results. Agency marketing is successful in this sense – marketing skills shouldn’t be used in silo and access to high-level experts and tools in various specialties can benefit your business greatly.

If you’re a small business whose funds are predominantly spent elsewhere on set-up, hiring an agency to take marketing responsibility off your hands could be a great move. For larger companies with greater manoeuvre on budget and overheads, it might be worth investing in a specialist or even a dedicated team to diversify your marketing offering. Bear in mind all aspects of the digital marketing sphere work closely together and are integral to one another – should one activity not be turning out great results, analysis is required before putting the spotlight on another area. For that reason, access to a wide range of skills is important.

Cost and convenience

Budget and costs will naturally play a large part in your decision-making as you consider whether to build an in-house marketing department or hire an agency. When assembling an in-house team, you’ll likely have covered all bases by hiring four crucial roles: a marketing manager, content writer, SEO and analytics expert and social media expert. However, the list does go on. The best marketing teams also include a paid ads specialist, web designer, developer and PR executive to name a few. You’ll need to consider salaries and costs of regularly up-training staff to keep them sharp in their skills so inevitably your marketing will be restricted to your budget. In-house hiring costs also include desks, computer and digital equipment and online tool subscriptions. On the plus side, though, your staff will be invested in your company from the outset with an understanding of important business context that an agency wouldn’t necessarily have.

Hiring an agency will cost a lot less in the long term because you’ll pay hourly or pay a retainer fee for which you’ll agree on a number of monthly or quarterly deliverables. You’ll benefit from specialist experience at a fraction of the price. Associated costs you’d have to take on when hiring in-house are now the responsibility of the agency. So you wouldn’t have to worry about training, for example – marketing agencies are at the top of their game and always up to date with industry trends, leaving you to focus on your own business and industry.

Finding the best fit for your business

Think about exactly where your marketing efforts would be best placed. Can you manage certain aspects sitting in-house with existing staff but require an agency for a specific resource? If that’s the case, you might consider outsourcing and drawing on the help of an agency that specialises in that area – PR, SEO or web development, for example. This might offer a ‘best of both worlds’ solution. Alternatively, a digital marketing company will offer the whole package. Planning, strategy and implementation is taken care of entirely and this might be an attractive solution depending on the current needs of the business.

A good starting point for deciding whether to keep your marketing in-house or outsource is to break down and define your business goals and needs. Take time to weigh up the pros and cons of both options as well as consider your budget before pinpointing required resources and making a decision.

Considering heading down the agency route or wondering how an agency can complement your own marketing efforts? Get in touch and we’ll walk you through it.

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Written by Andy McCaul

Co-founder and digital marketing guru Andy ensures all projects are shipshape, and that we generate the best return on investment for clients.

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