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Agency vs. In-House: Pros, Cons, and What to Consider

Should you build an in-house team, or hire an outside agency? The final decision is based on what is best for each individual business.

Fortress Brand Team | June 16th, 2022

Published in The Marketplace Playbook

No matter what business you’re in, marketing is a key element. It’s what gets your name out there and brings in customers to help you grow. At some point in the lifespan of any business, the question comes up. Should we build an in-house team, or hire an outside agency? There’s no easy answer. The final decision is based on what is best for each individual business. Marketing is a very dynamic field. Customer behavior, technology, and competition are continually evolving. So, your decision must be based on both the current state of your business and where you see it going in the future. In this article, we will evaluate the pros and cons of each and discuss factors that should influence your decision.

Pros and Cons: Expertise

In-house marketing teams are deeply familiar with the brand and have an understanding of growth strategy. Your in-house team will understand your product benefits and know the story you want to tell. However, unless you’re prepared to hire people to fill an array of roles such as Marketing Manager, Content Writer, SEO Analyst, Analytics Expert, Social Media Manager, a Designer, and a Developer, you’ll be asking one or two people to spread their expertise across a wide range of focus areas.

With an outside agency, you’ll have instant access to a team of marketing specialists. An agency will typically have experts available for any marketing channel you are interested in. They will possess a level of knowledge that is as deep as it is wide and they will be able to design a comprehensive marketing strategy for your business. However, you’ll need to spend time bringing team members up to speed on your brand, audience, products and goals.

Pros and Cons: Volume and agility

As we mentioned, marketing is fluid. Changes in the landscape can require the ability to quickly change course. Or, you may need to scale up your marketing message for a certain time of the year. Volume and agility are directly related to the size of your marketing team. A small in-house marketing team may not be able to take on and produce large amounts of work.

With an outside agency, volume and agility are what you pay for. Since there is a large team of experts at your disposal, they’ll have the capacity to take on however much work you are willing to pay for. Plus, it’s easy to scale up or down by simply communicating your business needs to the agency account manager.

Pros and Cons: When do I see results?

As with most business decisions, one factor you need to consider is how long it will take to see results. If you are planning to build an in-house marketing team, you’ll need to find and hire the best people and that process can take time. Once you have hired the right person, it will then take time to get them up to speed on your brand and begin implementing your marketing strategy.

It will also take time to find the right agency. You’ll have to solicit bids and evaluate a number of agencies to be sure you have the best one for your business. Once you’ve hired an agency, the same onboarding process will have to happen. However, once they are ready to go, it’s all hands on deck. There are more people to support your marketing efforts and they can begin working on multiple channels right from the start.

Pros and Cons: Cost

Cost is one of the biggest considerations in this decision. If you go in-house you’ll pay salary and benefits for the employees you hire plus the cost for any ads you run. Whatever number that is, it is your marketing expense and it’s fixed.

If you hire an agency you’ll be responsible for the agency retainer fee. Here, you’ll also pay for any ad spend. Agency retainers are also usually fixed, but you can generally adjust them based on your company's needs. Say one month you had some extra money in the marketing budget. You could use that to pay for additional marketing efforts.

What’s best for you?

There is a lot to consider when it comes to making a decision on what’s the most efficient model to market your brand and it can be one of the toughest decisions you’ll make. In the end, it will depend on what choice is the best fit for your marketing needs and your budget.

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