Agency vs. In-House Marketing: What’s the Difference?
by Ana Gotter • May 10, 2022
Every business needs marketing, even if you’re a single person LLC or a business offering in-demand services or products. Without marketing, people can’t find you. Even if they do, they won’t understand they should purchase from you.
So there comes a time when businesses realize that they need to hire marketers. The question quickly becomes whether they should hire an in-house marketing team or work with an agency instead.
There are pros and cons to each. Even as an agency, we can objectively see that there is no single one right answer for every brand out there. That being said, we do believe that in most cases, choosing to work with an agency will be more beneficial to brands in terms of costs, results, and time.
Trying to decide if working with an agency or hiring in-house marketing is best for you? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.
First: What Are Your Priorities?
Before we look at the pros and cons, let’s take a look at exactly what is most important to you as a business when you’re making marketing hiring decisions.
This is a deeply personal-to-your-brand question. Many brands, however, are looking for an option that has the following qualities:
- Is affordable to the company
- Has exceptional experience that can drive results
- Will understand and embrace your brand and its priorities
- Wants to have an ongoing, close, and collaborative relationship
- Offers diverse skills, especially when covering multiple marketing specialties that’s sometimes needed to not just create great ads but great full-funnel experiences
And good news (though it won’t make your immediate decision any easier): You can actually get all of this from either an in-house team or an agency… but you’re most likely to get this consistently from a high-quality agency.
The Pros & Cons of Working With an In-House Marketing Team
Thinking about hiring an in-house marketing team (whether that’s one employee or twenty)? Check out these pros and cons.
We’re all about positivity so let’s start with the good!
Team Schedules Align
One of the biggest pros of an in-house marketing team is that your staff is typically going to be working in alignment with your team’s schedule. If you require that everyone works 8 hours a day and at least 4 of those hours are between the hours of 10 and 2, it will be easy to give your team flexibility will still making it easy to sync up for meetings.
This means it’s easier to collaborate with multiple departments, like your sales or customer service teams.
Control Over Training
Another pro: You can invest in the specific training that you want individual team members to have. This can be expensive (online courses and conferences alike can quickly rack up thousands of dollars in expenses per employee), but it gives you some control.
The pros of an in-house marketing team are great… but they don’t come without their downsides.
These are the most significant cons to consider:
Hiring Team Members is Expensive
The average marketing employee may cost anywhere from $30,000 USD a year (plus benefits) to over $150,000 per year (plus benefits). Talented people with lots of experience are typically not going to be towards the low end of that range.
You need to factor in hiring costs, training costs, turnover costs, taxes, and benefits. You’re not looking at flat fees, and a single employee is going to be limited in what they can produce during their 9-5 hours. This can make it difficult for businesses to hire a large enough staff to knock out enough work.
It’s also important to consider that marketing changes constantly. The costs of training to keep everyone up to date are not insignificant.
It Scales Up Well… But Not Down
Have a big season coming up and want to grow your marketing team to boost your campaigns? Easy.
But you hit a slow season and you don’t need quite as many hands on deck for ongoing social media engagement or a surge of campaigns? That’s not as easy… because it means you’re letting people go. Agency services scale up and down with ease, and no one loses their job.
True Employee Loyalty Isn’t Really a Thing
Employees are going to do what’s best for them… which is ultimately a great thing for our culture, but not hyper convenient for employers. You could have a star employee who you’ve treated well who ultimately just gets a better paying position, or one that better aligns with their life… after investing tens of thousands into their training.
Keep in mind that in this culture, employees typically only stay at a job at only four years on average. That’s expensive.
Diversificatoin in Skills is Difficult
Let’s say you have a marketing team of ten people. They’re all generalists.
- Struggle to write high-converting email copy, if they’ve only done newsletters
- Lack the experience needed to identify the right keywords for blog posts or landing pages, which is part research but also part experience
- Have created some Google Ads in the past, but have no idea what to do with newer features like Performance Max campaigns
Marketing is a big, encompassing world and every touchpoint needs to be great. That’s hard with an in-house team.
Tools & Training Costs Way More
If you hire a social media manager, there’s a good chance they have their own social media management and publishing tool that they’ll use for your account and grant you access to. They create visuals using their own graphic design software, and use keyword research tools of their own to optimize the copy.
If you were doing this yourself, you’d be paying for that software on your own. Those three tools alone can easily put you at $400+ a month.
No matter what specialty you’re hiring an agency for, the tools are expensive. That’s worth considering.
The Pros & Cons of Working with a Marketing Agency
I know that we’re just the tiny bit biased here, but we believe that working with a marketing agency is a better fit for most brands, at least in some capacity. Let’s take a look at why.
Ready for the pros? Let’s go.
You’re Getting True Experts for Each Service
As long as you’re going with a reputable agency, each team member working on campaigns is going to be an absolute expert at the work they do.
Our marketing experts don’t wear multiple hats; they’re really really good at the specific task that they’re handling for you. They might have a few tricks in their hat, but we only put people on projects that they’ll knock out of the park every single time.
There’s a Diversification of Skills
When you go with an agency that offers multiple individual services, you’re getting a reliable diversification of skills while still getting true expert experience.
We Have SO Much Data
Your in-house marketing team may have some experience from working for other brands before, and the limited data you have from your own account. That’s a good start.
We’ve helped hundreds of clients, and we’ve read thousands of case studies. We have an exceptional array of data that helps us understand complex platforms like Google Ads at a high level so that we can get you more results faster and with less guesswork.
We Come With Defined Processes
You know you want to improve your Google Ad results… but do you know exactly what steps you’re going to take to do that?
We do. Our agency has developed systematic processes to review your existing campaigns, learn about your audience and brand, and then create new campaigns and potentially optimize existing ones in order to get you results fast.
Our Teams Are Trained & Ready to Go
You aren’t paying for employees, so you don’t need to worry about training costs. That’s our job. Our teams are fully trained and equipped with all the latest knowledge and tools, and they’re ready to hit the ground running as soon as you sign your contract.
And even better: You’re paying us a flat rate, with no employee taxes or benefits.
We Live & Breathe Industry News
You don’t need to have employees subscribed to 15 different marketing news sites to stay up to date with every little change to the algorithm or ad formatting options. We live and breathe marketing and advertising, so we’re always going to be up to date.
Here at Disruptive Advertising, we’re able to take this knowledge a step further thanks to being a Google Premiere Partner. We get early access to big features like Google’s Performance Max campaigns first, so you can start benefiting from them earlier than your competition.
The biggest con of working with an agency for marketing services is that some agencies downright suck. No other way to put it.
You can end up with inexperienced marketers who are overcharging, trying to make a quick buck without caring about their clients results (or having the knowledge to get those results).
That’s a legitimate fear. You shouldn’t be someone’s learning opportunity while they figure it out. Opting for a top-rated, well trusted and established agency is the best way to avoid this. (Check out red flags showing it’s time to find a new agency.)
And for some, the initial upfront expense may seem high. Keep in mind that, however, that ROAS is real, and the investment you make into your ad campaigns can easily pay rewards many times over. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t still be in business.
So agency marketing vs. in-house marketing: Which is right for you?
Some brands will actually choose both. Many medium- and large-sized businesses may have some in-house marketing team members that outsource certain tasks like landing page creation or Google Ads management to expert agencies. They’ll manage and supervise results and take care of other marketing tasks.
Either way, you now have our (mostly) unbiased list of pros and cons about agencies compared to in-house marketing. What you do with that is up to you!
Looking for help with your marketing campaigns? We’re a top-rated ads and marketing agency. Learn more about why our clients love us here.