We all know the age-old question: is an agency or an in-house marketer a better choice for achieving your goals? This is relevant regardless of industry or key performance indicators. Knowing if and when hiring an agency makes sense to help you achieve your goals is crucial. We’re in the age of in-house agencies and internal marketing teams. Agencies range from full-service to boutique shops. It’s all about your needs and identifying the most advantageous choice for your business.

Here are three questions you should ask yourself before you hire:

Is this a job for a generalist or a specialist?

When choosing between agencies and an in-house team member, knowing whether you’re looking for specialists or generalists is paramount. 

If you’re looking for a generalist, a marketing manager, project manager, or product marketer, you’re likely looking for a generalist. Someone who can know your business inside and out, but doesn’t have to execute on the intricacies of the tactics. They’re able to drive projects and keep things top of mind, but don’t necessarily have the bandwidth to deal with the day-to-day data analysis and tactical execution. Generalists are often best kept in-house, as they are able to interface effectively with your entire team and balance the needs of different departments without getting weighed down by the details and responsibilities of deep work. 

If you’re looking for a tactician or specialist, agencies have the upper hand. With one partnership you’re able to get support on all the areas the agency specializes in. You also have team members who are keeping up to date on trends and industry shifts without charging you hours for it. Specialists keep your goals top-of-mind but don’t have to take the time to manage your internal scheduling or worry about politics at the company. They’re responsible for results and will ensure that you get everything you need to be completed and your results achieved… otherwise, they’re out. 

Do you need fresh ideas or brand experts? 

When you’re looking to expand your repertoire and step out of your business’s traditional marketing and advertising methods, agencies are able to win. They have fresh perspectives from multiple industries and have the advantage of being able to try new things easily. Their experience in many industries gives them the knowledge and resources to make informed suggestions quickly. 

If your main focus is on keeping the brand exactly consistent, agencies will require more handholding and ramp-up time. There are ways to make this work, for instance, a successful agency will work within your brand guidelines and may even create useful deliverables to help your team stay on the same page with message and delivery, but they may also require more upfront coaching than an existing team member would. 

How fast do I want to scale? 

When working with an in-house team, you have full control of their day-to-day. In-house marketers are crucial for success, as they own the internal brand voice and understand your team. They are actively invested in business success, as they will feel the results immediately.

When it comes to scaling and cost, in-house marketing members tend to be more expensive per capita. This includes the costs of salary, training, benefits, and hiring. Unlike agencies, they are slower to scale and when a team member leaves. When you work with an agency, growing a contract is often as simple as placing a phone call.

Which is right for me? 

Knowing which option is right for you really depends on your business, goals, and budget. Finding the right person or partner can be challenging, and taking time, either way, to ensure it’s the right fit is crucial. 

Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Pros of in-house marketers

  • Internal knowledge: In-house team members know your brand best. 
  • Control: You’re able to know exactly what and where team members are and how they are executing.
  • Less conflict: Because you’re managing the team, you’re likely to get more consensus faster. 

Cons of in-house marketers

  • Cost: You’ll get less for your money. 
  • Turnover: When you lose someone, you have to start over on brand education and job performance.

Pros of agency partnerships

  • Cost: You’ll get more for your money with a team as opposed to one team member.
  • Creativity: With multiple departments and teams, agencies are able to give you up-to-date information in multiple areas of marketing without having to train or add additional staff. 
  • Depth of knowledge: Having specialists instead of generalists helps you know you have specialists in many areas members for the cost of one or two. 
  • Bandwidth: When you need to grow the agency can help you quickly, eliminating the time spent hiring and training. 

Cons of agency partnerships

  • Access: You don’t work in the same office. 
  • Ramp-up time: It can take time to educate them on the brand. 

Finally, ultimately it’s up to you and your business. Based on your priorities, size, and needs, an in-house marketer or an agency might be the right fit at different times. Curious about how agency relationships work at Mad Fish Digital? You can check out our results with clients we’ve partnered with, or get in contact with us if you’re interested in learning more.