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June 1, 2023 - By Barron Rosborough

Everything You Need to Know: Marketing Agency vs. Hiring In-House

If yours is a growing company, you might be weighing the pros and cons of in-house marketing versus agency help. To reach more customers, increase revenue, and grow as a business, you’ll want to approach marketing the right way. A digital marketing agency brings years of knowledge, experience, and a bird’s-eye view to your marketing strategy that you and your in-house team may not have. For most growing companies, outsourcing marketing to an agency or consultancy is the most viable option.


At some point, however, especially after growing to a certain level, most organizations decide to bring their marketing in-house. While some have good reasons for the decision, many others just feel they have to go in-house when they reach a certain size.


Why Hire a Digital Marketing Agency? 

Does your brand need to make a decision regarding in-house versus agency or consultancy marketing? Before you choose, weigh the pros and cons as well as the costs of hiring a digital marketing agency versus keeping tasks in-house to decide what’s right for your business.


If you’re wondering “Why hire a digital agency?” consider these benefits and advantages: 


  • Taking the hiring stress off your HR team
  • Relieving worry about retaining talent
  • Reducing overhead
  • Scaling your marketing budget to your needs
  • Getting multiple marketing services from one source
  • Gaining access to cutting-edge tools and technology, as well as insights into industry trends from experienced pros

It’s Harder Than Ever To Find and Nurture In-House Talent

Finding trained and experienced marketers can be more challenging than ever, with the pandemic and the tight labor market. Statistics show it took a median of 40 days to hire a marketing professional in 2022. According to a study from ManpowerGroup, 77% of companies have reported difficulty hiring — a 17-year high. This is up a staggering 8% in just two years. Even worse, almost 30% of new hires have left a job within six months, according to BambooHR


In addition to benefits and clear roles and guidelines, today’s workers want mentorship when they join a firm. It takes time and mentorship for marketing team members to understand your company’s vision, work toward achieving it, and communicate it to the outside world. Offering the right training, onboarding, and mentorship can be costly for employers.


With a marketing consultancy, however, the outsourced talent doesn’t have to focus on how your company works or the finer details of office life or the business. They only need to understand your mission, vision, and unique selling proposition, and how to convey all this to your target audience. Often, this can be accomplished when your marketing lead, founder, or owner completes an intake form and spends some time in a few meetings with the marketing consultancy team.  

A Marketing Consultancy Can Help Reduce Overhead Costs

The median pay for a marketing manager was $133,380, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. An entry-level marketing professional could command an average of $50,483 annually, according to Note that both of these, believe it or not, are down slightly from a couple of years ago.


Then you need to factor in the costs of office space, computers, and other tools required by employees, plus heating and cooling, electricity, lighting costs, and all the other expenses associated with managing an in-house team. 


Even if you permit your marketing team to work remotely at least part of the time, which 74% of employees say would help keep them with a company, you’ll still have overhead costs. For remote workers, you’ll need to provide a computer and potentially a smartphone, and you may reimburse their internet coverage to ensure that they have the best connection for productivity. 


And then there are benefits, which today’s workers demand. 67% of people say benefits are more important today than they were in 2019. 26% of workers who quit give “better benefits” as their reason for leaving. Benefits include health care, vision, dental, and a 401(k) plan. Of those, employer-covered health insurance is the most desired, followed by life insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and mental health assistance. There are also “fringe benefits” which include flexible hours, home office stipends, and employee discounts. 


With all these things in mind, a W-2 employee can cost an organization as much as 40% to 100% more than their annual salary. 


How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Marketing Agency? 

Now that we’ve explored the costs of an in-house marketing team, let’s look at the other side of that coin. A digital marketing agency uses its own equipment, doesn’t require office overhead or benefits, and isn’t likely to quit on you if they don’t like your office hours. 


The costs of an agency vary depending on the services you choose and the time they spend on your account. But that’s the benefit: you only pay for billable time, or the hours that the marketing agency spends working for you. What the agency produces will be tangible and measurable, and hopefully will boost your bottom line.  


Get Multiple Marketing Services From a Single Source

When you outsource to an agency, you’ll gain a team of expert marketers who specialize in different fields and work as a team to meet the marketing needs of their clients — all without the hassles and expense of recruiting, training, and retaining employees. 


You enter into an agreement with the agency to handle your marketing needs. The terms of the agreement will depend on your needs and what the agency offers.


For example: at Hawke Media, we offer a number of services ranging from managing a single channel to building and executing an entire integrated marketing strategy.


In most instances, the agency can cover all aspects of marketing for your organization, meaning you won’t need to employ even a single full-time individual to oversee marketing. Many agencies offer packages that clients can choose from according to their needs.


Tools and Technologies

Agencies have access to the latest marketing tools and software to help your business achieve its marketing objectives. Marketing agencies and consultancies often have partnerships with different platform providers and adjacent service providers that can come in handy for operational needs within and outside the scope of marketing.


Most ad platforms offer premium services, which are often expensive or specifically offered to agencies as a means of acknowledging the agency’s commitment to mastery of their tool. The same platforms often offer individual certifications for in-house marketers who want to remain competitive.


Expert Insights and Industry Leaders 

Because they work with multiple brands, marketing agencies have seen what works and what doesn’t. They follow — and often set — the trends when it comes to marketing tools, ideas, and platforms that deliver results. 

If you’re planning to execute integrated marketing plans on multiple platforms, you will likely need multiple specialists in different fields of digital and traditional marketing. 

For example: if your company wants to create an ad campaign using video collateral to help tell a visual story, and test it to increase conversions across multiple paid and organic platforms, you’ll need people skilled at:

  • Creative copywriting for video
  • Video production 
  • Paid advertising on organic platforms
  • Community management and social media
  • Content strategy


An agency has teams that can handle each of these responsibilities, have done it before for multiple clients, and know the most successful strategies to get seen and convert.


What Are the Major Benefits of Hiring an In-House Team?

If you’re now thinking, “In-house or agency — no contest!” it’s important to look at the benefits of an in-house marketing team. The most important ones are:


  • Full control of who handles marketing for your organization and how they go about it
  • A team that is familiar with your business culture and is monitored closely to comply
  • Ease of sharing information with marketers to enhance adaptability
  • Having marketing and sales under the same roof


Decision Time: What’s Best for Your Brand?

Before making that important decision on in-house marketing versus agency services, evaluate your organization and determine your marketing objectives. Consider the major benefits and drawbacks of each choice, as well as overall costs. Look at how in-house marketing versus agency services would handle each element of your marketing strategy and campaigns. 


While an in-house marketing team has some advantages, most businesses will benefit more from outsourcing marketing to agencies. It is important that you consider all the factors discussed here before making your decision.


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