Should I invest in my internal team or hire an agency? It’s a perennial question. You have more budget, more buy-in from the rest of the C-suite, but knowing where to spend your money is difficult. You know you need more specialists, but should you bring them into your own team or look towards a marketing agency instead?
The opportunity to build up your marketing efforts likely comes rarely and the success you can attribute to your decision will influence the opportunities afforded to you in the future. In other words, whether you choose to hire an agency or hire in-house specialists will seriously affect the future of your marketing program.
Full disclosure, I work for a marketing agency and this is marketing agency blog. I know that no matter how I spin this, it’s going to come off at least a little biased. Still, I recognize that there is a lot of power in having in-house specialists. In fact, hiring in-house is really a necessity.
The Benefits of Hiring In-House
First, and probably most importantly, in-house specialists have genuine knowledge of and intimacy with your brand. If you work with an agency for years and are lucky enough to have the same specialists stay on your account for years, then you can rely on these agency specialists to know your brand pretty well. An in-house hire, though, will always trump an agency in this situation. No matter how hard an agency specialist tries to get to know your brand, his or her attention will always be split between many different clients. With an in-house hire, you achieve long-term dependability as well as significantly more control of the entire marketing process.
Plus, the physical presence of an in-house hire can mean better and faster communication, increased accountability, and increased alignment of goals. Finally, the odds of your specialist having passion for and dedication to your organization are exponentially higher if they are in-house. This is, of course, assuming your in-house hire loves your brand. Still, passion for a brand can be vital to marketing success in areas of audience communication, such as content and social, and it’s an element that simply can’t be faked by an agency.
It is my point of view that dedicated, passionate, and talented in-house specialists are the backbone of a strong marketing program. They are vital and foundational. So, if you don’t have a fully fleshed out internal team, dedicating your new found budget toward building that team with in-house specialists truly makes a lot of sense.
Even from an agency perspective, I can attest to the importance of internal specialists. In my experience working with clients, those with dedicated internal specialists have been much easier to align with and together we were able to make a much more substantial impact on the organization.
What these in-house hires don’t do—or don’t do alone, at least—is drive significant growth and innovation. They don’t help you scale. An in-house marketing team is the cornerstone of your marketing efforts. An agency helps you to build the skyscraper.
What is Scalability & How Does it Apply to Marketing?
It’s true, with in-house hires you gain reliability and brand intimacy. With an agency, though, you have access to a variety of resources (at whatever level you need them), you gain agility, and, in sum, you gain scalability. In fact, scalability is defined as, “the capability of a system, network, or process to handle a growing amount of work or its potential to be enlarged in order to accommodate that growth.” (Wikipedia)
Additionally, according to Inc. scalability in marketing comes from:
- Standardized processes
- Expansion toolkit
- Strategic network
- Resource awareness (and filling resource gaps)
- Targeted messaging
- Understanding how to make your vision a reality
This simply can’t be accomplished by only hiring in-house, which always requires some degree of a learning curve. Taking on numerous specialists to accommodate growth and advancing skills will lead to lower productivity and, over time, it is both slow and unsustainable.
Marketing Agencies: The Solution to Scaling Your Business
On the other hand, hiring an agency will accomplish all of these elements. Here’s why:
- You gain access to premium marketing tools and technology platforms at a much lower cost than if you adopted those tools on your own. Keeping up with the constantly changing marketing technology stack is much easier when you have a partner to take some of the burden. Plus, access to these tools also means access to the strategic network of each tool.
- You also gain access to a wider skill set. Hiring, training, and retaining a great designer, for example, is a significant endeavor. Having access to a world-class designer whenever you need one—and not having to pay their salary when you don’t need one—is just another Tuesday when you’re working with a great marketing agency. Not only does this cut costs, it allows you to be agile and to embark on new strategic initiatives even if you don’t have the necessary specialists in-house.
- Agencies can integrate with your current team, allowing you to operate as one well-oiled machine. This kind of alignment will result in an agency that understands your internal structure and goals, which will only bring you closer to reaching those goals.
- Agencies operate on a model that increases specialist efficiency and relies on repeatable processes. An agency specialist does the same thing over and over again in a day. This means they have a process that will allow you to rely on uniformity in the outcome of marketing assets.
- Specialists have wide industry experience, which allows them to know what works and what doesn’t across a broader spectrum. You likely don’t want to waste time and resources for your in-house specialists to test out strategies that may not work for your organization. Agency specialists are tasked with this sort of work amongst different clients on a regular basis, though, and there’s no replacement for the kind of experience.
- Agencies can bring fresh ideas to the table. Your in-house specialists are great. Let’s face it, though, they are spending at least 40 hours a week thinking just about your organization. An agency specialist lives in a constant back and forth between clients, which means they’re always exposed to new ideas. Without innovative ideas, there is no moving forward.
- You can fill in your skills gap with highly trained marketing specialists. With technologies such as marketing automation coming to the forefront faster than brands can keep up, trained specialists in these areas are a hot commodity. Hiring them in-house will be expensive and training in-house specialists will be equally time-consuming and resource intensive. Working with an agency that already has these specialists will allow you to take advantage of these increasingly important technologies.
In conclusion, having a strong internal team is a necessity. It allows you to set the groundwork for growth. In fact, without it, growth can be exceedingly difficult. So, hiring in-house specialists does impact growth and scalability in that way. It won’t directly lead to scalability or growth, though. This is where hiring an agency will have the most considerable impact on your marketing efforts.
Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog Making the Difficult Choice Between Marketing Agencies & Consultants to find out why agencies are the only partner to go with and how to choose the one that’s best for you.