Marketing: Do It Yourself Or Hire It Out?

Every enterprise or organization has marketing needs. Whether it is an established business, start-up or non-profit, there can be a significant amount of marketing needs and expertise required to grow or even maintain the business regardless of the businesses life cycle stage.

All organizations have marketing needs, these needs vary based on the stage and growth goals of the organization, but one constant is the need of a team that can identify and match your goals to a strategic and tactical plan for success. This post will provide insight on how to select the right type of team to achieve your business goals.

For most organizations this decision is not based on a proper evaluation of what will provide the ideal long-term benefits. They can be short sighted and not take into the account all of the factors; actual needs of the organization, skills required to accomplish tasks with excellence and on-mission and on-brand, available personnel with needed skills, time frame of required to execute deliverables and clear identification of how to get the most bang for your buck.

Many organizations attempt to patch together a marketing team, activating people with limited marketing skill, or pulling key people out of high functioning areas to do marketing, or even the dreaded act of making marketing the responsibility of the sales team. Effective marketing requires skill and focus; people that know what they’re doing and can dedicate themselves to executing a well structured plan.

Breaking It Down

Hiring an outside agency typically allows you to maximize your leverage on a variety of things; overall lower costs compared to hiring the similar skills in-house. You get an agency with a broad range of skill sets which have been acquired and honed on the agency’s dollar. Though you may be able to hire the occasional unicorn internally who can do a variety of things well, typically these outstanding individuals rarely have enough time in the day to accomplish everything, and although they do things well, they lack the specialized skill to be truly great. An engagement with an agency over the course of time is typically a much higher value. It can save significant internal resources in software costs, personnel and project management, and can even be an escapable expense.

Benefits of Hiring a Marketing Agency:

  • Overall Lower costs
    • Lower labor costs
    • Lower overhead
  • Broader range of skill sets across agency
    • Specialists over generalists
    • Unique skills as needed
  • People to cost ratio
  • Internal resource time and investment
    • Internal team can focus on what provides the most value benefit to the organization (example: sales people focusing on sales and growing the business, rather than attempting to build a website, or manage an email marketing campaign, etc.)
  • Software knowledge and fees
  • Escapable Expense
  • No HR/Personnel Issues

If you are in a situation where your needs are very small and you have internal resources to accomplish the tasks, maybe going with external resources does not make sense. Or the opposite may be true, maybe your organization is large enough that it can endure the budgetary requirements of hiring the appropriate team of resources internally.

Benefits of Hiring an In-House Marketing Team:

  • Management and staff control
  • Targeted product/service familiarity
    • If you have a very nuanced offering that cannot be easily transferred to an external partner (in most cases this could be overcome with the right agency partner)
  • Accountability to upper management
  • Software control (you own/license it)
  • Person-specific skill sets

The Dollars and Sense of It

For this example you are small but established organization.

You are in need of ongoing marketing efforts, which requires a variety of skill sets.

Marketing and brand strategy, creative designer, a web developer, copywriting and someone to manage the projects. These are all very distinct skill sets and would require the aforementioned “unicorn” type employee to be able to perform all of these items with excellence. Maybe you have a person like this, how much time in a day do they have to accomplish all the things you need?

Fictional In-House Marketing Team:

Marketing Coordinator / Project Manager
crafts strategy, manages projects and works with staff on deliverables.

Graphic Designer / Production Designer
manages creative, produces ads and print materials, and designs user interface for website.

Website Designer / Digital Marketing
manages website, performs all online development activities, manages SEO and PPC.

Social and Content Marketing
writes content for digital or print ads, maintains social media channels, assists with email marketing.

Based on research from (Glassdoor, Indeed) the national averages for the salaries for these skill sets would be reflected in the salary examples below: Feel free to adjust for your locale. The math typically continues to make sense based upon your market. The following is a very conservative estimate.

These numbers do not include benefits and other compensation. This does not include time needed to manage culture, HR and admin - If leadership is already stretched thin working on the business, this could be an undue burden. With the right arrangement this could be done by an external partner for the cost of a single well-paid employee.

This scenario scales with the organization. If the organization’s needs were a couple of skilled people, you would still get a much better bang for your buck with an Agency with a variety of skill sets.

If the agency does their job right, over-time they may work themselves out of a job. The company will grow and have resources and marketing needs to justify hiring some in-house staff if it made business sense. We have experienced that with the right Agency partner, even companies that can afford to hire a marketing team in-house will continue to use an Agency partner to help keep them agile and to keep costs as an escapable expense.

Regardless of your decision, the more information you have at hand the better your result. Understanding the goals, the resources required and the big picture dollars involved will always make for more profitable outcomes. Happy Marketing!

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