In-house and agency marketing come with their own pros and cons. In this article, we weighed them up to help you make the right decision.
When you need help marketing your business, you have the choice of going in-house or looking for an agency to outsource to. But which option is best if you want to get results? Both in-house teams and agencies have their pros and cons, so you need to consider which one might be best for your needs before making a decision.
In this article, I’ll look at several factors that you should take into account to help you choose between the two and how a hybrid approach might work.
In-house vs agency: what’s the difference?
As the name suggests, an in-house team comprises of a business’s own employees (or sometimes contract workers) who may form a dedicated department. They work for you and you alone, allowing them to focus on your brand.
An agency, on the other hand, is an external company that provides the services that you need. You will need to help them understand your brand, but they will have a team of experts who can deliver skilled assistance with your marketing.
Both in-house teams and agencies have their benefits, so it’s smart to take some time to understand how each one might be better than the other.
The benefits of an agency
There are several advantages to choosing an agency over an in-house team.
Agencies are highly skilled
When you work with an agency, or sometimes more than one agency, you have access to the best skills and expertise in that field. Most in-house teams are unlikely to cover everything to an equal standard or have the time to do so depending on the size of your business. However, if you choose an agency, you get a powerful team, and it can be much more cost-effective.
They stay on top of the latest trends
Agencies work with a variety of other clients, which can be a positive thing for you. In terms of creativity, it can help them to stay innovative because they’re not focused on just one brand at all times. If they work with different industries and businesses, it can help to keep them on their toes.
Agencies offer honest, objective opinions
You might think all your ideas are the best but getting a second opinion from an external source is priceless. You need a fresh pair of eyes to tell you whether something is likely to work or not. Agencies have enough experience to provide that but, inversely, don’t know enough about your business to just go along with what you say.
Better access to tools = better analysis
Most marketing tools come with a monthly subscription fee and that can be a significant outlay for smaller businesses. But the one-off cost for an agency includes analysis from those tools and it’s that analysis that can give you the edge against your competitors.
The benefits of an in-house team
Having an in-house team over an agency could be the right choice for your business.
One benefit of an in-house team is that they are entirely focused on your brand. They already know your brand and what it stands for, meaning that you don’t have to bring them up to speed as you do with an agency. They also have a good understanding of your direct competitors. This allows them to be creative while remaining on-brand at all times.
You can create a diverse team
You also have the opportunity to create a diverse team in all senses of the word: in terms of race, gender and sexuality, and creativity, for example. Not only does this offer the best results, but it also helps to represent all your customers.
Working with an in-house team can often be faster than working with an agency too. There are no other clients to consider, and you can quickly communicate with your team. Prioritising tasks can be easier when you’re able to instruct your team to drop everything else and work on what’s most important. This is more difficult to do with an agency, which may have other clients to focus on.
It can be cheaper
A one-off payment to an agency might sound enticing and, in some cases, more cost-effective, but what if you need regular marketing? If that’s the case, an in-house team is a lot cheaper. For more on those kinds of costs, read our article on
Factors to consider when making your choice
When you’re deciding whether it’s better to work with an agency or an in-house team for your marketing efforts, you should consider a number of key factors.
1. What are your goals?
Define your goals so that you can explore the best strategies for meeting them. Either an agency or an in-house team might be a better option to help you fulfil your goals.
Although this focuses on PPC, our PPC roadmap guide can offer some inspiration for goals you could set.
2. What skills do they offer?
Take a look at the skills that are available when making your choice. Agencies may have more to offer, but you might need to consider combining several agencies to get what you need.
Here’s a list of articles we’ve written about agencies and what they offer:
- 8 Best SEO Agencies in 2020
- 7 Best Photography Agencies in The UK
- 7 Best UX Design Agencies
- 10 Best Content Marketing Agencies of 2020
- Top 11 Branding Agencies of 2020
- 7 Best Video Marketing Agencies
- 6 Top CRM Agencies in the UK
- The 10 Best Digital Marketing Agencies In Nottingham
3. What are the costs?
Using an agency is often more cost-effective than an in-house team. You need to consider office space, salaries and taxes, tools, and other expenses that an in-house team can generate over time.
4. How long will it take?
The length of the campaign is an important factor to consider too. How long will it take to get the results that you want? Are you looking at a short-term campaign or something more long-term and sustained?
5. Will you be a priority?
If you use an agency, will they prioritise your needs? This is something that an in-house team will do, but an agency can still dedicate themselves to helping you achieve your goals.
6. How easy is the communication?
In 2014, Tim Leake, SVP growth and innovation at RPA, turned the results of a study they did about client/agency relationships into a campaign of its own, dubbed “The Naked Truth”. One of the “four pillars of truth” that affected trust was “considering we’re communication companies, we suck at communication”
Good communication is vital if you want things to run smoothly. Contact with an in-house team can be quicker, but agencies also have plenty of tools that help them out.
7. What tools do they use?
The right tools can make a big difference. Be sure to find out which tools are used and how they will make your marketing campaign better.
What about the hybrid approach?
Another alternative to choosing either an agency or an in-house team is to consider both. The hybrid approach combines your in-house staff with an agency to help you get the best of both worlds.
If you decide to go with this option, you could benefit from the outside perspective and skillsets of an agency while also having your in-house team, who know your brand inside-out and can prioritise the most important tasks. An agency can fill in the gaps left by an in-house team so that all bases are covered.
Both in-house teams and agencies offer their own pros and cons. When you assess each option, you can find the correct choice for your requirements.