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In-House Marketing Vs. Agency Marketing

Why hire the services of a marketing agency to grow a small or mid-sized business and strengthen its revenue expansion? Surely, it would be better to keep your marketing in-house rather than partner with a third-party, right? It’s an excellent question. 

Advantages of In-House Marketing

With an in-house marketing team, it’s easy to communicate with all your stakeholders. Team leaders have complete control over their department and get to oversee project progress. In-house marketing is also flexible. The group can adjust their skills and expand or scale down projects based on current needs and budget. Lastly, you pay in-house employees to live and breathe your products or services and compnay brand.

Drawbacks of In-House Marketing

Creating a team from scratch means sourcing, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding new employees. With that comes fixed overheads, including salaries, benefits, paid leave, etc. Even then, the in-house team may lack the expertise of marketing agency staff. And projects can slow down if you suddenly need to scale up and hire new workers. Finally, creative ideas and marketing strategies can suffer from stagnation with in-house marketing teams. 

Pros & Cons Comparison for In-House Marketing

Calculating In-House Marketing Costs

Use this formula to calculate the costs of an in-house digital marketing team.

  • Total cost of recruiting and onboarding processes +
  • In-house costs, e.g., spaces and equipment needed for the team +
  • Total time spent +
  • Employee salaries +
  • Employee overheads +
  • Suite of current marketing tools +
  • Training

Many SMBs think their hiring budgets won’t stretch to hiring an agency, but are they right?

Advantages of a Digital Marketing Agency


Marketing agencies boast advanced workflows and processes built for volume, efficiency, and quality. They invest in and exploit the latest industry software and high-tech digital tools. An agency team is also attentive to new ideas, methods, and market trends. Hence, they quickly adapt to changing markets and deliver fresh ideas.

On the surface, this all sounds like a costly investment, but is it?

Marketing Agency Vs. In-House Marketing Costs

Every business owner understands that to make money, you need to invest money. But at the same time, budgets have limits, so making the right decisions is vital. However, it’s a misconception that a professional marketing agency costs more than hiring a full-time in-house marketer. On the contrary, the agency route is often the most cost-effective option.

Savings on Salaries and Benefits

Full-time marketing salaries are quite expensive and rising. Then there are training costs, potential sick days, paid vacation, and employee health care benefits. Plus, onboarding is a gamble. You never know how the new hire will pan out until after you employ them. These are not issues you need to worry about when hiring an agency. You don’t have to train anyone, either. But you also get more than just marketing expertise.

A Bigger Team for Less Hassle

For the same price as hiring a dedicated in-house marketing employee, you can hire the services of an agency. With the latter, you get the full support of an entire team of professionals with various talents and creative ideas. These teams have high levels of expertise and fast access to target markets. Moreover, they are fluent in current tactics and best marketing practices.

Five other reasons to consider a marketing agency over in-house staff are:

  1. Access to professional content writers
  2. SEO or search engine optimization experts
  3. Social media specialists
  4. Web designers, developers, and graphic artists
  5. Benefit from the latest tools and technology

Latest Marketing Tools & Tech

Professional marketing software can be a costly and complex investment for SMBs. However, an agency has access to all the latest high-tech tools and technology needed to run highly competitive campaigns. Think premium programs, superior services, and sophisticated analytical data tools. These are yet more costs you don’t have to incur when you outsource all or part of your marketing to an agency.

Agencies Offer Outside Perspectives

The set routines and repetitive tasks carried out by in-house marketers can send them into a rut. Furthermore, in-house teams often lack the numbers, passion, and skills of a dedicated agency. These issues don’t exist when you outsource marketing. Agency teams maintain high levels of creativity as they continually work with different brands and unique projects. And their diverse skill sets bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to your table.

Scaling Up Costs

Employing new staff is one way to scale up the output of an in-house marketing team. Of course, that means more stress, training, salaries, and other costs, plus it takes time. But a marketing agency already has an arsenal of fully-trained workers that you can call on instantly. And it doesn’t take long for agency experts to adapt to new marketing needs.

Despite these benefits, there is an in-house agency compromise that we’ll look at shortly. But first, a rundown on why some companies still choose in-house marketing over outsourcing.

Drawbacks of a Digital Marketing Agency

An outside agency is not part of your business and may lack industry knowledge. So, learning about your business’ workflows, processes, and culture can take time. It can also take some agencies a while to understand a business’s brand and grasp its problems. Lastly, digital marketing firms have other clients and customers to service.

Pros & Cons Comparison for Digital Marketing Agencies

Calculating Digital Marketing Agency Costs

Use this formula to calculate the costs of hiring a digital marketing agency.

  • Cost of agency recruiting process +  
  • Time spent +
  • Total Agency fees +
  • Ad & media spending commission +
  • Marketing tools +
  • Communication & project management

Meet the Hybrid Marketing Model

The in-house or digital agency is not your only marketing option on the table. Many companies today use a hybrid model as a workable compromise. A hybrid team consists of your internal staff and experts from a third-party agency. This is a more cost-effective approach that offers flexible working for driving results.

How the Hybrid Model Works

All hybrid setups vary, as you can customize the arrangement as needed. When done right, leveraging the power of in-house marketing with an agency works incredibly well. For example, your internal team might want to take control of social media posts. And the agency might focus on big-budget projects that need specific skills and tools.

Digital Marketing Matters

Digital marketing is a wise investment that gives SMBs more opportunities to compete. It helps to improve brand awareness while building and maintaining a target audience. Now let’s look at industry statistics on the importance and rise of digital marketing in the US.

The Rising Demand for US Marketing Agencies

Business demand for US digital marketing expertise is on the rise. This year alone, around 63% of American businesses have increased their budgets for digital marketing. At the last count, there were 6,139 active agencies, a rise of over 11% from the previous year [1] [2].

This chart shows the steady demand for agency marketing from 2012 to 2022.

Data Source: IBISWorld

This upward trend continues to grow as software engineers develop advanced marketing tools. Worth noting is that marketing agencies are more likely to embrace the latest tools, technology, and strategies than in-house teams.

Half of SMBs Have No Marketing Plan

A 2019 survey of 350 small-to-medium-sized businesses found that 50% had no set marketing plan. And 85% of business owners said they prefer to focus their time on other business-critical activities. Of those with a marketing strategy, 58% spent five hours or less on in-house marketing efforts [3].

This chart illustrates the percentage of weekly time spent by SMBs on marketing.



There are arguments for and against in-house marketing, outsourcing to an agency, and the hybrid model. But no marketing can ever be an option if you’re serious about competing in 2023 and beyond. Think about the approach that will drive your business forward and achieve its goals. Try not to second-guess if you’re uncertain. Instead, talk with the experts to find a solution that best fits your company’s objectives.

  1. https://www.hubspot.com/62%-budget-increase/
  2. https://www.ibisworld.com/number-of-digital-advertising-agencies/
  3. https://www.outboundengine.com/marketing-survey-2019/
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