How To Choose Between In-House and Outsourced Marketing

Post by
Chris Mitchell
Minute Read
May 5, 2020
Last Updated:
October 19, 2020
in-house marketing vs outsourced marketing

When you find yourself needing to expand your marketing efforts, how you spend your budget next is crucial to how your business is going to evolve.

Before we start, it's important for you to know there's no right answer: it ultimately depends on your time, budget, and efforts. That's why it’ll take careful consideration to know where you currently are and what is most important to you. We suggest creating a pros and cons list to help you analyze your most convenient option.

To help you get the full scope of awareness needed to make a well informed decision, we’ve listed out 7 areas below that you should consider when deciding whether you should do marketing in-house, or outsource it to an agency or freelancer.

1. Product/Service Knowledge

In-house marketing

Your long-term employees know your product and your competitor's products really well. You’ve spent several hours, especially on their onboarding, to get them to understand what you do, your processes and the precise language they’re supposed to use to sell the product/service. The relevance of this point depends a lot on the complexity of your business.

Outsourced marketing or marketing agency

Your agency or freelancers need time to learn your business just like a new employee would. They don’t know the product or service as much as the senior level people inside your company. As with the in-house positions, there may be a learning curve until there is enough information for them to work alone. The benefit of having this outsourced staff is that they’ll bring a fresh perspective to the table, with unbiased information, as well as a suite of valuable tools to make it easier to understand customers and competitors. 

2. Workload

In-house marketing

Having employees means they may need to cover for another when a co-worker is absent or may get delayed if they have too much on their hands. It may be hard to calculate the precise amount of workload you have so your employees are always adding value and handing their work on time.

Outsourced marketing or marketing agency

Agencies are specialists in balancing the amount of work needed. There is more flexibility around outsourcing, since they are used to the fluctuations in each client's needs. In cases of extra-work for special occasions, you may be able to hire extra hours to make sure your deadlines are met and nothing is left behind. Agencies also tend to be very skilled at project and campaign management to ensure time and resources are being allocated strategically. 

3. Marketing Expertise

In-house marketing

Essentially depends on your employees or your willingness to pay for courses and training. You may have a great employee who is always looking for the best tools to stay up to date in the changing environment, so you may need to invest in their training to stay up to date with the best and most effective marketing trends. This ultimately depends on how your company values marketing innovation and how much they're willing to invest towards continuous improvement.

Outsourced marketing or marketing agency

A good marketing agency is constantly staying up to date with the latest technology and marketing strategies. This is because this is the core of their business and what they sell to their customers. They will always try to invest in their knowledge. Not doing so is directly detrimental to their business and future.

4. Skill Diversification

In-house marketing

You may need a person who is specialized in many aspects of digital marketing, which may end up being too much or too little work for one person or one small team. Also, hiring a person specialized in multiple skills may be hard to find or an expensive resource.

Outsourced marketing or marketing agency

Marketing agencies have many different people in their teams with different specialties. They know exactly who to assign projects to in order to get the results they need. If they don’t know how to solve an issue in particular, they will be able to use their extensive networking resources to find someone who will. Thankfully, that's part of the process that’s outsourced too.

5. Creativity

In-house marketing

For marketers it may be hard to maintain their creativity while always working with the same product or service. Marketers are trained to always be in different scenarios and that may make them frustrated and unengaged with your company if they find themselves doing the same routines over and over without anything new and exciting to work on.

Outsourced marketing or marketing agency

Since marketing agencies are always working with different clients and researching new ideas, they are more capable of bringing new ideas to the table. Marketing agencies are among the most competitive industries in the world, and are the best agencies are constantly investing time in creative strategies and tactics to get an edge on the competition. 

6. Ease Of Communication

In-house marketing

It may be easier to call for meetings, discuss emergency topics or just brainstorm with teammates- if all your team is in the same space. 

Outsourced marketing or marketing agency

You may need to program meetings ahead of time and choose the best channels to keep the communication flowing in the best way. But keep in mind that agencies usually use different tools to try to adapt to their client's needs, and in many cases can actually offer a leaner, more agile and efficient alternative to hiring in-house marketing staff. 

7. Reliability

In-house marketing

There may be temporary or permanent changes in your team that you may not have planned that may make some situations difficult to handle. For example, if your marketing coordinator quits one day without noticed, you could be left with a very frustrating and costly problem to solve. 

Outsourced marketing or marketing agency

You don't need to worry about your team taking time off or leaving your company. Your agency should be able to manage their team in case these issues arise, covering their demand internally. You never have to worry about losing part of your marketing team, and in many cases, you can have more flexibility and availability from your agency compared to hiring in-house. COVID-19 is a perfect example of a scenario where a remotely located marketing agency would keep your marketing operations running smoothly while other companies struggle, and fall behind due to employees being off work. 

how to decide between in-house and outsourced marketing

How do I calculate in-house vs. external agency pricing?

It's important to keep in mind that the cost of an employee does not only consist of their salary: you also need to add the cost of their onboarding, office space, technology, training, and benefits.

The main difference between your in-house and external costs is that your agency includes a single cost that has more flexibility for variables moving forward. All variables are contemplated in their fee and their contract, so you won't have to worry about unexpected costs. 

Another important factor when weighing in these differences is the staff you’d need to hire in-house vs. the possibilities when hiring outsourcing. A smaller company may not need a full time PPC advertiser, a SEO specialist, a strategist, etc. but only a few hours of each. Getting each one of those is time consuming, especially in recruiting and onboarding, and may end up being more expensive if they decide to leave or weren't the right fit to begin with. 

A good exercise at this point would be to calculate the people your ideal team would need to do the tasks you see as mandatory versus what an agency would cover.

What about having both in-house and outsourced marketing?

This is a very common way of structuring marketing departments in many companies and industries. The main benefit of this type of arrangement is that your internal team can determine the company’s urgent needs, “speaking the same language” as the external agency and follow up on their needs with the external company to fill in the gaps. This may be especially important in companies with very complex products or services. The external marketing agency will help your team meet deadlines and solve complex problems, decentralizing marketing’s decision-making process.

As we mentioned before, nobody knows your business as well as you do — so it’s all about making the right decision for your business.

Need help finding out which one is best for your company? Checkout our Growth Plans, or Schedule a Call to find out.

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