In-House Marketing Team vs. a Marketing Agency : The Pros and Cons

By Marcia Degnan, CEO of Vivid Creative

Before launching what you will hope will be a successful and illustrious marketing strategy, there seems to be a major question worth answering: will you be accomplishing this through the use of a marketing agency or with an in-house team? Making a decision of this caliber is contingent on a couple of key factors: how you prioritize your marketing needs, your timeline, and your budget. Because both teams are ones of merit, it’s important to fully understand your options in order to be satisfied and excited about the people you are working with as well as the work that they produce.

We pulled the top pros and cons of both in-house marketing teams and agencies to give you a better leg up when looking to hire or start your next marketing project.

Pros and Cons of an In-House Marketing Team

Pro: No removal from the job

One of the strongest appeals an in-house marketing team can offer is the fact that there is no “removal” from the job. The ability to connect and brainstorm with your marketing professionals could not come any easier; companies will probably find a huge comfort in the considerable amount of face-to-face time that proximity allows while utilizing an in-house marketing team. With access to decision makers made convenient, creative timelines and project management can be more streamlined than if a project has been outsourced. An in-house marketing team, focused only on the business that they work for, should live and breathe their organization’s mission. With a direct and personal line of communication created with the team that has made your company’s marketing its cornerstone, it is safe to assume that the rate in which tasks are accomplished will be accelerated compared to the communicative difficulties that could be a result from not transpiring in-house.

Pro: Company Familiarity

Because an in-house marketing team is on-site, the team has a stronger sense of familiarity to both the business and the employees beyond marketing working to keep the organization functional. Additionally, having a solid foundation and understanding of past ideas and campaigns (whether they are successful or somewhat less than) is a valuable facet to a company’s strategic plan and one that your in-house marketing team will be able to produce faster than an agency will be able to research it.

Downside: Expense

On-boarding an entire marketing team is a considerable expense and the department cannot withstand insufficient staffing, should financials be an issue. Glassdoor.com estimates the total annual expense for an in-house marketing team (this includes a manager, graphic designer, content writer, digital strategist and web developer) in the Washington, D.C. area to be around $337,316 annually, not including benefits.

Downside: Lack of Experienced Staff

If budget restrictions prevent you from hiring the most diversely skilled group of individuals who are properly prepared to effectively support your business model, the marketing content produced by these ill-equipped employees might be lackluster as a result.  Phototonic Public Relations Inc. reports that “Poorly managed and cumbersome marketing leads to an estimated $958M each year in inefficient and ineffective content marketing spend for mid-to-large B2B organizations.”  Investing funding into marketing professionals should ensure high quality levels of production, but with this great expense comes a responsibility to recognize employees who are able to deliver a good return on investment - that is, their salaries.

Downside: Repetitive Work

What happens when we hand the same person the same task year after year. Without a fresh mind, your marketing can become stale and dated and employees can feel “burn-out” from doing the same job over and over again. The same strategies and campaigns could be run repeatedly without a reason as to why except “We’ve always done it that way.” Bringing in an outside agency will bring fresh perspectives, methods, and technologies to the table.

Pros and Cons of an Agency

Pro: Fresh Perspective

Marketing agencies serve as objective, outside parties who are able to assist with and rectify pre-existing issues companies are experiencing by finding creative and technical solutions to these problems.  Agency employees are diversified and not placed into a niche type of work. They are able to frequently put into practice their wide range of skills, and do not experience workplace monotony. This is done particularly by bringing a fresh perspective and new approach to the way your business is conducted.  While it’s an advantage to have a deep understanding of past marketing techniques and typical patterns of business the way an in-house marketing team will have, it is possible that this mindset could silo the employees and inadvertently dissuade them from trying techniques that stray from a seemingly self-imposed status quo.

Pro: Less Overhead

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of outsourcing marketing needs to an agency is the idea that agency employees are able to fill gaps (whether they be a lack of skills and/or knowledge) in your department. Phototonic Public Relations Inc. argues that in creating an in-house marketing team, a company runs the risk of hiring individually talented professionals that are unable to work towards a common goal due to ineffective collaboration. They state that working with an agency whose employees are understanding of your needs will allow a company to, “move faster, achieve greater results, and make decisions more easily”, among other things including a reduced need for training and resources, including computers and the space to conduct work.

Pro: Delegation to a Qualified Team

Hiring a marketing agency to create your marketing strategy or plan implementation leaves you more time to work on other projects and stay focused on the bigger picture. When you hire a marketing agency, you are hiring a fully staffed, qualified marketing department to take care of the work for you.

Downside: Less face-to-face communication

Of course, a risk that must be weighed when considering hiring an agency is the idea of less face-to-face communication.  This is not to say a complete absence of, rather, a considerably less amount when comparing to the amount an in-house marketing team would have.  Additionally, while it’s true that approaching a business and a project with a fresh perspective will ultimately be beneficial to a company’s marketing portfolio as it will dissuade work from looking tired and repeated, marketing agencies will require more time in obtaining precursory information to understand an organization and a client that an in-house marketing time should be well-versed in.

When deciding whether an in-house team or a marketing agency is the right hiring option for you, it’s important to get as specific as possible in your considerations. Marketing done correctly will ensure the growth of a business. It will attract new clients, generate new leads, and garner additional revenue.

Are you still unsure of which marketing team will better meet your needs? Most companies like to adopt a healthy mix of both! Contact Vivid Creative to discuss your vision and weigh your options.