It can be a real dilemma for any business owner to decide whether to build an in-house marketing team or hire an agency. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to both, and the decision is often based on what kind of business you’re running, what your specific marketing needs are, your budget, and your style of management. Are you a small business looking for marketing talent on a tight budget? Then an agency might be your best bet. But if you’ve got more to spend, then the advantages of building an in-house team are worth paying attention to. Focusing on four key areas, here’s a few pros and cons of agency vs. in-house marketing.
An undeniable advantage of going with a marketing agency is that you’re going to gain access to serious marketing talent. Agencies can boast a workforce of experienced and dedicated marketers who are constantly dealing with a broad gamut of clients, ensuring that their skills are razor sharp. This will ensure that your business is buoyed by competent marketing, which could mean the difference between building a successful brand and attracting no attention whatsoever.
In-house teams, by contrast, are far more constrained. Every new employee you hire engenders a cost to you and your business. They require a salary and equipment that you will have to provide. For a small business, this will inevitably focus your marketing on one channel. Branching out would require you to hire more staff, which inevitably means higher costs. Furthermore, there’s no guarantee that the people you hire will be a good fit for your business. Even the most thorough interviewing and vetting processes can’t quite predict how a new employee will get on in your business, and the costs to you of having to replace marketing staff who aren’t up to snuff can damage your brand and your business.
However, agencies aren’t all fun and games. Not being in direct contact with your marketers is a reality that you will have to face up to. Furthermore, marketing agencies aren’t just there to serve your business and its needs. They will inevitably have other clients they need to carry out work for, and you could find that your business and your needs aren’t at the front of your agency’s queue. Even worse, the communication lag between you and your marketing team means that you won’t have full control over the precise approach that your team takes. If you’re a business owner that likes to get involved with the minutiae or has a strong and distinctive vision for their brand, then this lag might end up being a source of serious frustration.
An in-house marketing team, by contrast, is a team chosen by you or by those you trust, and you and that team might very well be sitting in the same room as one another, or at the very least the same building. This provides the advantage of allowing you and your team to change your focus and direction instantly, and respond to changes in market conditions with agility. Even better, your employees, through working with you directly, will be able to get a much clearer view of your vision for your brand.
An unavoidable consequence of retaining an in-house marketing team is the concomitant effect on employee satisfaction. Marketing is a dynamic, creative job that attracts dynamic, creative people, and there’s no better way to bore those people into ineffectiveness than to have them deal with the same brand and material day in, day out, for years on end. Many junior to mid-level marketers change jobs every 2 to 3 years and among the millennial generation, this is even more common. If you want to avoid a high staff turnover for your business, then building an in-house team may not be for you.
Agency employees, by contrast, deal with a diverse selection of clients, businesses and brands. While this has its own disadvantages in terms of how much attention they can pay to your business, the ability of agency staff to keep themselves fresh with a much greater variety of work will bring its own considerable advantages. Agency employees may be less tired or burned-out by their work, and they can bring a fresher eye to your marketing approach that eliminates the disadvantages of staff that are overfamiliar with your brand, which could lead to a dearth of new ideas.
Following on from that last point, there are some advantages to having an in-house team that is familiar with your brand. An in-house marketing team has the advantage of being steeped in your company’s culture. This provides them with the direct knowledge necessary to convey that culture in your marketing. If you’re focused on fostering a distinctive culture in your business, then it’s advantageous to have an in house team who can convey that to potential customers, who might be looking to patronise businesses with a strong focus on a set of core values.
Agency marketing teams, by contrast, have the advantage of being able to provide an outside perspective on your business. In-house marketing teams that work on the same brand and content day to day can become lost in the minutiae and lose the ability to objectively analyse the strengths and weaknesses of their approach. Bringing in fresh eyes might help to ensure that your business doesn’t get stuck in a rut. An outside perspective can provide you with harsh truths about your approach that may be invaluable for the future of your brand.