Marketing Agencies vs. In-House Marketing: The Pros & Cons

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Breaking Down Which Option is Best for Your Business’ Marketing Strategy

CEOs and other business owners know that they need some form of marketing plan in order to build out their customer base and keep them engaged. After all, if the public doesn’t know about you, then it’s possible you may get left in the dust by your competitors who are actively building out their brand and reaching their target market. It’s not enough anymore to be great at what you do, you also need to be great at getting the word out about yourself. This is where effective marketing teams come into play, which begs the question: “Do I go with an in-house marketing team or with an outside agency?”

Granted, both are designed to do the same thing – to effectively market your business and increase revenue – but there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to each option. Let’s objectively break this down.

In-House Marketing Pro: They Are Experts in Your Brand and Know Your Company’s Vision

Your in-house marketing team is going to live, eat, and breathe your company’s vision. They will be the resident experts on your company’s brand and tone, which means there’s little to no learning curve when it comes to speaking on your company’s behalf on social media or typing up your next press release. They also are well aware of your CEO’s vision and what they need to do in order to execute it. That means your communication is always on-brand and there are rarely any moments where major tonal adjustments need to be made – a huge advantage when you need things to move along on an expedited timeline. 

Marketing Agency Con: The Learning Curve

By comparison, marketing agencies enter the relationship knowing nothing about your company’s brand. That means there’s a time period of research, discovery, and trying to zero in on exactly how your company sounds. These are the growing pains any company should expect when hiring an outside agency. Having said that, agencies know that their first order of business when working with a new client is to learn everything about them. A process is in place to get their team members up to speed and their team is composed of quick-learners.

In-House Marketing Con: The Time it Takes to Build Out a Team (and the tools they need)

simple illustration of people's silhouettes from the shoulders up, each with a different icon where their brain would be, illustrating their different ways of thinkingLet’s say that your company wants to hire a web developer to either build out or totally revamp your existing website. That means that you’re going to have to write up a job posting for a web developer, get it out there on the typical channels (Glassdoor, Indeed, LinkedIn, etc.), go over all the resumes that come in, and then conduct multiple rounds of interviews until you eventually land on the candidate that appears to be the best fit for the job. This is definitely not a process that happens overnight. In fact, it could be several weeks or over a month until your new web developer is actually in your office and doing the job. Multiply that process a few more times, and you can see how building out your own in-house marketing team is going to be a long process of vetting and training that will surely eat up a lot of time.

 Additionally, your marketing team is going to need the tools of the trade to ensure they can perform their job functions. That means it’ll fall on the company to purchase things like Semrush, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, SquareSpace, Wix, and any data analytics and design tools they may need.

Marketing Agency Pro: A Wide-Ranging Skill Set That’s Ready to Go

With a marketing agency, the hiring process is simple because they have all the skill sets and services you need ready to go and located under one roof. Do you need a web developer? You got it. How about a designer? Yep – they’ve got those, too. Whether you need copywriting, paid search, SEO, media buying, or reputation management, your marketing agency will likely have anything you could possibly need under one convenient roof.  

Additionally, you can hire with confidence knowing that these individuals have been thoroughly vetted by marketing directors and are active participants in ongoing training and development processes. Another benefit is that marketing agencies are usually always using the most recent design and analytics tools, which means the companies hiring them don’t have to incur that cost themselves.

In-House Marketing Pro: Communication

The beauty of having all your marketing resources under one roof is that it’s easy to communicate with your team. They’re just a quick call or instant message away. Or, you can cut out the electronic middleman and convene with your team in-person for a brainstorming session. This is great for those situations where action needs to be taken immediately, such as removing a product from the website that’s discontinued or hiding negative comments on the company’s Facebook page. The ability to act quickly in a world that travels at the speed of broadband is advantageous for companies that need to stay agile.

Marketing Agency Pro: The Marketing Mentalityillustration of a small marketing team with various icons behind them representing the many facets that go into marketing

The pitfall that a lot of in-house marketing groups fall into is that their CEOs and company leadership can get a little too hands-on with the marketing efforts. This can start an internal tug-of-war between what company leadership deems good marketing and what actually appeals to the customer. This slippery slope can lead to design work, social posts, and other marketing efforts being developed where the CEO is the sole resident tastemaker.

When it comes to running a business, it makes sense to have an MBA leading the charge. With marketing and creativity, it’s best to relinquish the reins to marketing professionals who have been down this road before and are familiar with best practices. The marketing mentality of creative, design, and using analytics to make informed decisions is a skill set that takes years of development to finely tune. Hiring a marketing agency is an example of great delegation – pure and simple.

Neutral Area Between Marketing Agency and In-House Marketing: The Overall Cost

There are plenty of instances in which major corporations took all of their marketing in-house and it saved them millions of dollars. However, there are several other cases in which a company only needed a certain amount of design work, content creation, or website redesign, and hiring an outside agency was the perfect for them. On a related note, most agencies have short-term contracts, which ensures you’re only hiring them for the services that you need as opposed to taking on someone full-time on a permanent basis (and paying them benefits).

 There are about a million ways to slice the cost issue, and both in-house marketing and marketing agencies can look advantageous based upon what a company needs and how long they need it for.

Allow iFocus to Assess Your Company’s Needs

For companies who have never explored the idea of hiring an agency, iFocus Marketing can perform what’s called a needs assessment. This opens up the lines of communication by allowing you to tell us where you’d like to improve while we make a top-to-bottom evaluation of your business to determine what you need. We have all the tools and expertise to see immediately if you’re ranking for relevant keywords, need your website optimized, or require other services.

 iFocus has a full suite of digital marketing services that are designed to help businesses thrive in a competitive marketplace. Contact us today to get started!

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