Hiring a Marketing Agency vs. an Employee
In the current business climate, marketing is everything. For a business of any size – and in just about any industry – to remain competitive, having a comprehensive and compelling marketing strategy in place is imperative to an organization’s growth. As a result, companies that may have never, or only rarely, advertised in the past are suddenly finding themselves in need of major marketing expertise; and they’re starting to ask themselves whether engaging an outside marketing agency or hiring an internal marketing team is the answer they’re looking for.
For many companies, the decision is made based on cost and convenience. For example, a larger company may favor the idea of hiring internally because, for them, having a marketing team in-house provides the greatest return on investment. Smaller companies, meanwhile, may prefer to hire an agency because they fear an in-house team would be too costly or complicated to manage and maintain. The reality is, there are so many variables at play, there’s no one-size-fits-most formula for determining what’s best for your organization. It’s a decision that requires the careful consideration of several key factors.
Here are the pros and cons to hiring a marketing agency versus an internal marketing team:
Hiring an Agency
- In the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, the average yearly fee for retaining an agency is $63,000. That’s about half the cost of an average Marketing Director’s salary. (The typical minimum yearly fee for retaining an agency is $42,000, while the maximum caps out at around $84,000.)
- By hiring an agency, you open yourself up to a broad scope of marketing expertise. Each member of an agency brings a unique skill set to the table, and they all work in lockstep to provide a full range of services that can be tough to find outside of the agency arena.
- Vast industry expertise. Because agencies get to work with such a wide range of clients, they become experts in marketing for many different industries. They already possess the insight into what has and hasn’t worked in the past for competitors and other industry professionals, and they understand the current industry climate.
- A good marketing agency is built around a team of professionals who are so in tune with each other’s strengths, weaknesses, preferences and work flows that they are able to execute just about any set of tasks with great efficiency.
- Work ethic. You know your agency is going to work hard for you. Agencies must prove their worth month after month, or they may find themselves on the chopping block. It’s common practice for an agency to operate under a month-to-month contract with its clients, meaning that one major misstep and the client is free to go elsewhere.
- Low burden. When you hire an agency, you get to take a step back and feel some of the responsibility fall of your shoulders. Agency teams work to keep projects moving so you don’t have to. Typically, an agency will establish a plan based on thorough industry research and then execute, analyze and adjust as necessary – all while keeping you up-to-date.
- Fully-Trained. In order to remain competitive, marketing agencies make it a point to ensure their employees are fully trained and that they stay on top of the latest trends and technologies in marketing.
- Fresh perspective. By bringing such a wide array of perspectives to the table, agency marketers are able to offer a fresh perspective to most marketing initiatives. This is especially beneficial for companies who are looking to improve upon their existing marketing tactics, as an agency can present a new and different approach to help ensure more positive results.
- Familiarity with internal business process. While agency marketers are experts in marketing, they may not have a background in your specific field or organization. When that is the case, there will be somewhat of a learning curve in the early months of a project until they have familiarized themselves with the specifics of your internal business process.
- Discovery period. It’s often difficult to hit the ground running immediately upon hiring an agency. The client-agency relationship requires a bit of a discovery period to ensure proper alignment to the client’s goals. Only then can the real work begin.
- Communication barrier. If an issue arises or a great idea needs to be hashed out, it is convenient to simply walk down the hall and collaborate with a marketing manager at that moment and in person. Most outside agencies don’t regularly work on site, so you must communicate via a phone call or email. And, while meetings can be scheduled they often occur hours or days later.
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Hiring an Internal Team
- Industry expertise. Hiring an internal employee allows a company to handpick a professional who may be highly trained in marketing specifically for their field. They already know the nitty-gritty details, and they are familiar with the ins and outs of the industry, which can be a huge asset in highly competitive marketing environments.
- Company pride. A good employee appreciates and is proud of what your business is all about, and he or she is able to draw upon that company pride as the foundation for your marketing strategy. With the right employee, every marketing move is geared toward the fulfillment of your mission.
- By default, your internal marketing team is fully aligned with all other areas of your company, from sales to human resources and everything in between. Considering the most successful companies promote consistency in everything they produce, that cross-functional alignment can give your brand a major advantage.
- Because your employees are right there with you, as opposed to a phone call or email away, your communication channels are wide open, which helps to promote efficiency in collaboration and the sharing of ideas.
- Personal touch. There’s something to be said about working side-by-side with a fellow creative mind. The in-person partnership that happens every day between internal marketing team members is much more inspiring than brainstorming through constant electronic communication.
- Accountability. By hiring an in-house marketing team, you’re able to supervise their work on a daily basis, which ensures that they are held accountable for their productivity.
- In the New Jersey/New York metropolitan area, the average yearly salary for a marketing professional is $78,000 plus benefits – which typically equates to a total investment of around $87,000 per employee when considering the cost of taxes, insurance and benefits. That average, however, does not account for the salaries of C-level employees, like CMOs, who can command compensation upwards of $200,000. (On the low end of the scale, the average Marketing Assistant has a starting salary of $30,000, while the average Marketing Director earns around $121,000.)
- Multiple hires. A good marketing plan draws upon multiple resources and skillsets, including strategy, web development, graphic design, copy writing and so much more. Considering most marketing professionals are either experts at one or two targeted areas, or marginally good at lots of things, most companies would have to hire several pairs of hands to get the job done right – and that’s how payrolls start to add up.
- Added responsibility. In many cases, hiring an individual for a marketing position below a Director level creates added responsibility for the company’s existing managerial employees. It means that someone on staff has to manage the new hire by establishing and maintaining a desired workflow and ensuring adequate job performance.
- When working for the same company and pushing the same objectives for long periods of time, it’s easy to fall into a creative rut. This is especially true for individuals who have made a career of marketing in one particular industry and then eventually get burn out.
If you need more help determining if an agency or employee is right for your organization, contact Paradigm Marketing & Design to schedule a consultation.