When it comes to your business’ marketing efforts, there is a lot that needs to be considered. However, before you can get into the nitty gritty of the different approaches that you are going to use in order to drive more business to your company, you need to decide on whether you are going to use the services of a marketing agency or hire an in-house marketing team. In this blog post, we are going to help you to make this decision by presenting the pros and cons, the advantages and disadvantages, that are associated with both options.
Before we look into the pros and cons associated with both options, it is important to provide a bit of background information on both options. When it comes to in-house marketing, this involves hiring people who will work exclusively for your company. A lot of crucial roles are going to need to be filled if you are to run a functioning marketing team in-house. There needs to be a marketing manager or director, web developer, graphic designer, paid ads specialist, social media manager, SEO and analytics expert, and a content writer - to name just a few! A team that is composed of a number of individuals, of specialist skills who will dedicate time to growing your business via marketing. Your marketing team.
If you decide to outsource marketing to an outside agency, they will have a team of experts and specialist skills that are available to hire. An agency can specialise in all areas of marketing, a full service marketing agency, or they may focus on one specific area, such as social media marketing or PPC. Their assistance can be an indispensable resource if you’re looking for a quick and cost-efficient way to 'buy-in' expertise and develop a top-quality marketing strategy to reach more customers.
Of course, it is possible to have a blend of the both, and this is another option that you may want to think about. Nevertheless, this is usually something to consider a little bit later down the line.
Hiring a marketing agency vs. in-house marketing team
Now that we have provided information on the differences between how both options are run at your company, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both options.
First of all, we need to look at the abilities or skills that are needed in order for a given marketing project or job to be complete.
In-house employees are paid to live and breathe your brand. They need to have a full understanding of the industry you operate in, and they need to know your business like the back of their hand. Sitting inside the business this should happen quickly. The individuals in your in-house marketing team are also going to be vetted and chosen by you, as opposed to an outside source.
For smaller marketing teams, say of up to 3 or 4 individuals, it can be challenging to find in-house marketers who are expert in all areas of marketing and digital marketing. Depending on the size of the business and the marketing outputs required, it can to be too much work for one individual or even one small group of people to handle.
One of the drawbacks associated with using a marketing agency is that you are going to need to bring the agency up to speed with your business and your brand. However, if you do choose an agency with care, this will be a pivotal part of their service. You should look for an agency that has a good track record in your industry, as you can be sure that they then understand the sector that you operate in and the challenges that you face. If you are in the leisure sector for example, use an agency that can bring its leisure experience, professional services agencies will have worked with a number of professional services businesses, direct response and so on.
You will need to do some research and pitting in order to locate an agency that will work to your business objectives and timelines. However, with the wealth of agencies that are available today, this should not be too much of an issue. Some people choose a number of different agencies to handle different areas of their marketing strategies, market research, campaigns, digital, advertising etc. However, if you have a multi-skilled agency that can handle it all, a full-service agency, it makes the whole process easier to manage and a whole lot more convenient.
One of the main benefits associated with hiring an agency in terms of skill set is that there tends to be more skilled individuals on hand, you reap the benefits of having highly experienced specialists in their particular fields rather than an individual that is good at a lot of things. When outsourcing marketing to an agency, you are going to be able to tap into the skill sets of multiple marketing professionals who are top of their field, teams made from inside teams, they are able to remain cutting edge, they are the best in their particular specialism.
What about adaptability? This refers to the ability to adapt to tasks and situations that are subject to change, which can often be the case when it comes to marketing.
It is quick and easy to go back and forth with an in-house team, as they are sitting in the office with you. Communication can be much more fluid. You can quickly push high-profile tasks to the top of the agenda.
However, internal teams can often be given too many tasks that are deemed high-priority at the same time, they are easily drawn into the day to day and sometimes certain departments or teams will dominate their time and resources. If this is not managed, this can lead to inefficiencies and some areas of the business being over-marketed whilst other areas receive none.
While an agency may require more communication and detail when it comes to changing priorities, they are able to assess and prioritise without being caught up in the internal goings on within a business. They can provide a beneficial outside perspective, help you to prioritise important tasks and run independently should you be time poor or be dealing with other important issues within the business. You may have to wait your turn, but the results can often be much better in the end, as they are not wrapped up in your business.
Task coordination with an agency will typically happen between a representative or account handler from the agency and one from your company. This is the best way to communicate fluidly and quickly. It is often the case that you or your team can be to close to the business, you can’t see the woods for the trees. Outside views can be valuable and the push and pull of changing priorities and inter-departmental wants and needs smoothed out and dealt with more efficiently.
Now, let’s take a look at the differences between in-house marketing and outsourcing in terms of creativity. This refers to the use of imagination in order to create ideas that are original.
No matter whether you opt for an in-house team or you decide to outsource marketing, there is no denying that marketers are creative by their very nature. However, when it comes to an in-house marketing team, it can be easy for creativity to stagnate and for team members to get bored because they are going to be working on one project or a campaign of events that happens year over year. Freshness is important, especially for creative minds, agency teams have the benefit of working on multiple campaigns sometimes across multiple sectors. It keeps them fresh, it gives them perspective, it keeps them an appetite to keep challenging and winning.
Nevertheless, an in-house marketing team is going to have a deep understanding of your business and also the competition. They will live and breathe the brand. They will know how you operate, your tone of voice, be au fait with your in-house systems and procedures. They'll know exactly who to speak to within the business to resolve issues or challenges.
Agency marketing teams will have a number of unique client accounts that they are working with on a daily basis. This means that their minds are always going to be moving and fresh, as they are going to be exposed to a wide selection of industries and businesses.
On the flip side, though, it is possible that they could have similar clients, which are direct competitors, which could lead to a conflict of interests. Sometimes this can be beneficial, should you be in a specific sector that requires exceptional skills that are relevant to your industry - the insurance sector for example where leads and reselling of leads is important for revenue generation. This is quite common in the charity space as well. If having a competitor within the same agency is an issue, you may want to consider raising the issue and putting this in the contract when you sign up for their services.
Of course, we will also need to take a look at the costs when comparing both options.
There is no denying that the costs can be high when it comes to hiring an in-house team. Not only are you going to have to cover the salary, NI and pensions for all of your marketing team, but you will need to take into account how much each campaign is going to cost as well. Each campaign is going to be dictated by your marketing needs. It is vital to crunch the numbers before you make any decisions.
According to the Total Jobs Salary Checker the following salaries are applicable to the various roles that you might want to hire for in your marketing team (2020 average UK salary).
Hiring and training all costs money as well. You are also going to need to budget for training programs, computers, benefits, and office space, if applicable.
When it comes to working with a marketing agency, you are in a position to better budget your expenses because you will pay a fixed fee – most agencies operate on a retained or project basis meaning that you pay a fixed monthly fee for services or they cost the project on a one off basis. This will be agreed on with the marketing agency beforehand so that you know exactly how much you need to pay, when you need to pay it, and what you are going to get for your money.
Depending on what services you require, whether you want the agency retained or on a project by project basis. Average retained costs for an agency range between £1200 and £5000 per month. Projects such as web development or specific campaigns can vary hugely depending on the size and scope of the project itself.
Unlike hiring in-house, extra expenses are also cut when it comes to working with a marketing agency because they will pay for all of their own training, tech, tools, and software. This means that you do not have to worry about any unexpected expenses cropping up along the way, which can often happen when it comes to hiring an in-house team.
In-House and Agency Hybrid Models
It is also possible to mix up the two models and use a mixture of agency and in-house individuals. In reality this is the most common approach where a core marketing team are created in-house and strategy and specialist skills are bought in.
In smaller companies there may be an individual that is responsible for managing the marketing in-house, probably a marketing manager or sometimes a coordinator that also has other responsibilities within the business. Another core role that is required more and more often is an individual to manage content. A Content Manager. Content is incredibly important for both marketing and digital marketing reasons. Whether content needs to be created for websites or blog posts, leaflets or other marketing materials, having someone in the business, close to the business who is great at the written word, brand tone and is well informed from the inside of the business can be hugely beneficial.
Larger businesses with larger in-house marketing teams might call in an agency for specific skills such as PPC or SEO. Larger teams, particularly if they have been working in the business for a long while may need some fresh eyes to help redirect marketing strategy, perhaps help with a specific campaign or launch. Market research is a specialist skill set that is not consistently required. So, a specialist market research agency may be called in annually to assess the market, monitor brand awareness or again provide data for a new launch or NPD.
As you can see, there is a lot that needs to be considered when choosing between an in-house marketing team and hiring a marketing agency. There is no right or wrong answer; it all depends on your business and your goals. However, a lot of people find that outsourcing marketing is right for them in the current economic climate especially, as it enables them to benefit from a much faster service and get the exposure they need quickly and more effectively.
If you are a business that is struggling with the in-house or marketing agency dilemma then why not get in contact with us. Improve Marketing is an agency that works with business owners and marketing teams across the UK. We provide marketing consultancy and specialist services for ambitious businesses who want to grow their businesses with better marketing.
Why not drop us an email or give us a call and let’s talk about how a marketing agency could work for you and your business. Contact Improve Marketing.