Your business’s marketing strategy isn’t something that should be overlooked. Whether done in-house or by an external agency, marketing is one of the most important aspects of growing a successful business.
Having a properly planned and executed marketing campaign can increase your company’s visibility, promote your products and services, engage your target audience and ultimately increase sales.
Is it best to do your marketing in-house or hire a digital marketing agency? There are many factors that come into play when making this decision. In this post, we’ll share our pros and cons of doing marketing in-house vs hiring an agency.
Pros and Cons of In-House Marketing
Hiring an in-house marketing team can provide you with more control, but the additional time and resources you’ll need to spend might create more headaches than results. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons.
Advantages of In-House Marketing
Having a dedicated internal marketing team that focuses all of its efforts on your brand can be a huge driver to success. Some of the benefits of in-house marketing include:
- Cohesive branding. As employees, your marketing team will be fully aligned with the vision, mission, and goals of your company. This will ensure cohesive branding throughout all of the marketing campaigns.
- Easier communication and collaboration. Having your own marketing team available at all times will ensure easy and streamlined communication, avoiding costly delays.
- May be cheaper for large companies. When working with an external agency, large companies can spend upward of $500,000 on yearly marketing expenses. This means that if your organization is large enough, hiring a small team to carry out the marketing efforts internally can be more cost-effective than outsourcing them.
- More creative control. Having an in-house marketing team will allow you to have full control over all of the generated content. You will be able to guide the team directly without waiting for agency reports.
- No conflict of interest. Your own marketing team will share a common goal in effectively expanding your company, which means you will be unlikely to experience a conflict of interest within the team.
Challenges of In-House Marketing
While in-house marketing may seem more appealing, there are drawbacks and challenges to consider:
- Talent recruitment. Establishing an internal marketing team from scratch takes time and effort, whether you are hiring a single person or a team of five. Filling a single marketing position takes nearly two months on average, not to mention the efforts required to prepare job listings and schedule interviews.
- Limited skills and experience. In-house marketing teams are typically small, which means that you will have to compromise on the specific skills and experience you want to bring on board.
- High employee costs. Unless you are running a large business, maintaining an in-house marketing team can bring more expenses than savings. For perspective, an average salary of a digital marketing specialist is around $62,000 per year, and the costs of running a marketing team can quickly add up.
- Software expenses. Besides the direct employee costs, conducting your marketing in-house leads to high software expenses. Professional digital marketing tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs aren’t cheap, and outsourcing specialized work to freelancers can add up quickly, especially when continuous edits and redesigns are needed.
- Employee turnover. Any in-house staff is subject to employee turnover, which can slow down and negatively impact your marketing efforts. Losing a valuable employee can put additional pressure on the remaining staff and lead to poor marketing performance.
Is In-House Marketing Right for Your Business?
Whether in-house marketing is right for your business will largely depend on the amount of time, money, and effort you are willing to spend. There is a big learning curve to understanding and mastering all the moving parts of effective marketing campaigns. It may also take longer to see results compared to when you’re using a marketing agency.
However, if you are running a business with little or no time to spend on marketing, you should consider hiring an agency for the best ROI.
In-House Marketing Real-Life Examples
In certain circumstances, in-house marketing can be incredibly effective. Big names like Chase, Bayer Pharmaceuticals and Ally Financial have brought some of their media functions in-house. These are just a few of the larger companies that can afford to keep marketing internally due to its overall high cost.
Pros and Cons of a Marketing Agency
When looking for a group of professionals who offer an array of services, many businesses will hire a marketing agency like Signa Marketing. For smaller companies, hiring an agency can be more cost-effective than building an in-house marketing team from scratch. Let’s explore some pros and cons of working with a marketing agency.
Benefits of Hiring a Marketing Agency
An agency specializing in marketing is often the best option for small- to medium-sized businesses. They know how to focus on the right strategy, ideas and campaigns along with handling all the heavy lifting, making the whole experience smooth and seamless. Some benefits of hiring a marketing agency include:
- Expertise. Specialized marketing agencies, such as Signa Marketing, bring unparalleled industry expertise to the table. Their team of marketing professionals have an extensive skill set and deep knowledge when it comes to marketing. As professionals in their field, they are constantly investing in themselves to advance their skills by staying on top of the latest marketing accreditations, tips and trends.
- Latest marketing strategies. Marketing agencies work with many clients and are constantly perfecting new strategies and techniques. This allows marketing companies to stay at the forefront of the industry, as opposed to in-house teams, which are slower to respond to new marketing trends.
- Professional software and tools. Marketing agencies have access to in-depth software, which means that you don’t have to worry about researching and purchasing tools on top of learning how to use them.
- All-around approach. Most agencies employ several teams, which focus on different marketing aspects like paid advertising, social media, email, SEO, content creation, and more. This ensures that your marketing goals are approached from several angles at the same time, leading to more impressive results.
- Budget-friendly options. Most marketing agencies offer a selection of plans at different price points to work within your budget. If you have a limited budget, you could always start small and work your way up as you see more results.
- Scalability. If you wish to increase your marketing efforts, an agency can quickly meet your needs and scale your campaigns. Doing this with an in-house marketing team would be considerably more complex.
Drawbacks of Hiring a Marketing Agency
While hiring a marketing agency is often the best course of action for small business owners, it is important to be aware of some drawbacks associated with agency marketing:
- Less control of your content. When you outsource your marketing to an external or out-of-home agency, you will automatically have less control over the content they choose to create and publish. That being said, a good marketing agency will keep you informed throughout the entire process and carefully consider your feedback.
- Multiple clients. Unlike an in-house marketing team, an external agency will likely be working on several projects at the same time. This becomes a balancing act that most seasoned agencies handle well, however, some may not.
- Takes time to get to know your brand. While an internal marketing team will truly know your brand, an external agency will need to spend some time getting to know you and your company. At Signa Marketing, we begin each project with an extensive onboarding process that allows our team to essentially become an extension of your own. We become partners. We take time to conduct market research, identify key audiences and learn what makes your business important and unique.
Is Agency Marketing Right for Your Business?
A good agency partner like Signa Marketing can transform your brand. From search engine optimization to paid media, you can benefit from the different expertise and experiences all under one roof. Marketing agencies specialize in attracting new customers, improving brand awareness and ultimately generating more revenue.
Marketing Agency Real-Life Examples
Many large companies choose to outsource marketing to external agencies. Big tech company Microsoft outsources many of its marketing efforts while keeping some in-house. Their marketing mix of product, price, promotion and place (the 4Ps) is the framework they use to develop effective marketing strategies.
Making a Decision: Factors to Consider
Experienced agencies have been marketing for long enough to know the best ways to achieve impressive results. However, it’s important to consider these factors when making the final decision of whether to keep your marketing in-house or outsource with an agency.
Your Marketing Goals
A big part of marketing decisions begins with evaluating your goals. Creating marketing campaigns internally can be difficult to scale. Some negative factors include hiring new team members, subscribing to expensive professional software and taking time away from other projects.
If you work with an external agency, expanding your campaign is quick and easy. Agencies like Signa Marketing help streamline your business goals into a personalized, actionable plan that will effectively reach your audience.
When hiring an in-house ad agency or marketing team, be prepared to spend significant amounts of money on the hiring process itself as well as allocating a hefty budget for employee salaries and marketing tools. Just hiring a single digital marketing specialist will cost you around $60,000 per year, but the cost can be worth it for large companies with high revenues.
If you are on a tighter budget, consider working with a marketing agency instead. Professional agencies often offer a selection of marketing plans or packages to accommodate a range of budgets. Depending on how impactfully you decide to go with your marketing efforts, you will be able to choose a plan that meets your goals and works well with your financial limitations.
Your Team’s Expertise
If you or somebody else on your team has marketing experience, it may be enough to start slowly promoting your business online without the need to establish a full in-house digital marketing team. However, for optimal results, you would still need to hire a marketing specialist or two somewhere down the road. Remember that no marketing specialist is equally good at all aspects of marketing, so you would have to prioritize what you would like to focus on.
Working with a marketing agency gives you full access to experts with proven track records of success. Your business might need to pivot SEO strategy, dig in deeper with A/B testing or start a new paid media campaign. Companies like Signa Marketing specialize in marketing tasks like lead generation, sales funnels and automation.
Setting up an in-house marketing team can take multiple months, and figuring out the best strategy and achieving your first results can take years! If your focus is growing your brand and business, hire a professional marketing agency that has already mastered these skills. From finding and recruiting the best specialists in the field to testing and comparing multiple strategies, successful marketing agencies are automatically ahead of the game.
How to Build an In-House Marketing Team
Creating a high-performing in-house marketing team can be challenging, but it can be done with the right research and preparation. Consider the following tips if you choose to do your marketing in-house:
Hiring for Key Positions
When it comes to digital marketing, there are three key roles or positions that you should focus on: customer acquisition, monetization, and content creation. Ideally, you should hire at least one person for each of the above core responsibilities, but the exact number of employees will depend on your company and marketing goals.
Building Your Team Culture
A great team culture gives employees purpose and aligns several teams to work toward achieving common business goals. When establishing a new marketing team, you should focus on hiring employees with the same general values and later introduce your company culture to them.
For example, if your company places emphasis on honesty and transparency, make sure that the new employees are familiar with these values and know what they should be striving for.
Training and Professional Development
When it comes to the professional development of your internal marketing team, you get what you put in. The more continuous, high-quality training you can provide your team members with, the more knowledge and skills they will be able to build. This, in turn, will provide better campaigns and results for your company. Make sure to evaluate the capabilities of each of your employees, find their skill gaps, and schedule appropriate training to fill the gaps.
How to Choose the Right Marketing Agency
Choosing between in-house marketing vs agency marketing is only the first step toward finding an effective marketing partner for your business. If you decide to go the agency marketing route, you will be faced with another choice of finding the right agency for your business. Here are a few tips to help you out:
Identifying Your Needs
Before starting the search for your ideal marketing agency, take the time to think about your company’s own needs and requirements.
Here are some questions to ask:
- Is my team large enough to handle a higher volume of leads from marketing efforts?
- Do I have a sales team in place to address the new leads?
- What are my target geographic areas and audiences?
- Am I entering a new or highly-competitive market?
Researching Potential Agencies
Carefully research the potential agencies and review their value propositions. Before choosing a marketing agency, create a list of expectations for your marketing dream team and be able to answer some of these questions:
- Are they trustworthy?
- Do they have the same values and work ethics as my company does?
- Will I be in contact with a single marketing manager or a team of different specialists?
- What types of marketing services do they offer?
Evaluating Proposals and Contracts
After reaching out to several potential agencies, you should carefully evaluate their proposals and look for red flags. Ifan agency claims to deliver unrealistic sales leads or instant organic growth, they are likely over-promising. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and there is no way to “hack” your way into instant success when it comes to marketing.
As a good rule of thumb, it’s important to choose a marketing agency that takes the time to understand your business goals, wants to help you succeed, and has the tools and strategies to provide you with tangible yet realistic results.
Case Studies: Real-Life Examples of In-House vs Marketing Agency
Whether companies choose in-house marketing vs an agency largely depends on the size of the business and the specific marketing goals and objectives it has.
Netflix has fully shifted to in-house marketing with the goal of attracting more viewers, investing over $80M to support its original content. Big box cereal brand Kellogg also chooses to do its marketing in-house, with a large focus on digital platforms. This company is spending 60% to 70% of its overall marketing budget on digital advertising.
On the other hand, other brands achieve great results when working with external marketing agencies. Big hotel chain Hilton took the process of choosing their marketing partner seriously and underwent a formal preparation period. The company clearly defined its requirements and placed an emphasis on finding an agency that would be an extension of Hilton’s own team. They proved that the cultural fit of an agency should never be overlooked.
When it comes to marketing efforts, there is no “one size fits all” solution but when weighing your options, careful planning and consideration are key to achieving the desired results.
The Takeaway: Which Option Is Right for You?
Bringing your marketing in-house can be appealing, but the time, energy and effort it will take to do so is something not all companies can afford. Look for an agency that works specifically with small to medium size businesses and understands your company’s goals and objectives. Hiring an outside agency gives your business a fresh look from a different lens. And for most successful agencies like Signa Marketing, that lens is laser focused on optimizing campaigns to achieve results.
While finding the optimal digital marketing partner for your business can be difficult, working with a professional agency is often the most effective and cost-efficient approach. At Signa Marketing, we understand the complexities involved and are fully committed to assisting you in this endeavor. Take a proactive step towards your business success by scheduling a complimentary consultation with our team of seasoned marketing experts.