In-house or Outsource? That is the Question!


In the last decade or so, marketers have needed to up their game so much that it’s getting hard to keep up.  SEO, social media and content marketing are just a few tactics that weren’t even part of the conversation prior to 2006, and now they are front and center.  The combination of digital plus traditional forms of marketing has led many decision makers to ask themselves whether or not to expand their marketing departments, or hire an outside agency.  If you are trying to make this call, you’ll need to answer a number of questions:

  •  Is it absolutely necessary for you to have someone physically present?  Because of today’s technology, in some cases the answer will be no.  While it is beneficial to have someone at your location, you may be able to forego this convenience when you weigh the pros of hiring an agency. On the other hand, an employee will have greater buy-in to your company and a better understanding of your specific work culture.
  • What skills are required of your marketing person?  Are they required to have both traditional and digital experience?  Do they need to be a strong writer and have an expertise in graphics?  How proficient are they at social media?  Do they have press contacts?  Chances are you will not find someone that checks off all of these boxes.  It may be worth spending money to train your employee in the skills they are lacking.  In contrast, if you hire a marketing agency, you get access to multiple skill sets and experts.  You’ll need to ask yourself, what makes sense for your firm.
  • What is your budget?  At first glance, you may think it will save you money hiring in-house, but that might not always be the case.  As discussed, one person might not fit all of your needs, so you could be looking at several salaries, plus taxes, benefits and vacation/sick time.  It all adds up, whereas at an agency, you will have access to an entire team of people with the expertise you need in a variety of disciplines.
  • How confidential is your marketing work?  Although agencies sign non-disclosures, If the activities involve highly confidential or trade secrets that could damage your business if made public, you may be more comfortable with an in-house employee.
  • How important is another perspective? One benefit of an in-house team is that they know your brand inside-and-out, like no one from the outside can. However, there are benefits that an outside agency can bring to the table, such as years of experience working with your target market or new promotional channels you may not know exist.

At the end of the day, your decision should be based on a number of factors.  Oftentimes, a collaboration of both in-house and agency to produce optimal results is a winning team.