Marketing Agency vs In-House. Try In-House First! Here’s Why.

Do you wish to take your business to the next level through Digital Marketing? Are you torn between doing everything in-house and hiring a Marketing Agency? My name is Francisco, and today I am going to answer these and other questions.  My company, Planet Marketing, specializes in Facebook Ads, Google Ads and Remarketing. I have been in the business for over a decade and can, therefore, give you all the information that you need in the Marketing Agency vs in-house debate. In this article, I am going to;

  1. Show you why doing your marketing in-house is viable
  2. Outline the advantages of doing your marketing in-house
  3. Give you brief notes on hiring an Agency to do your marketing
  4. Explain how Planet Marketing can help grow your business

Why doing your marketing in-house is viable

Most of the articles that cover the Marketing agency vs in-house debate stay on the fence as far as making recommendations is concerned. That’s because people are afraid to take definitive sides! So, you will get such answers as “it depends” which is a lot of crap! Of course, “it depends,” but that’s not the right thing to tell someone who is looking for information.

Today I am, therefore, going to put my head on the chopping block and say, businesses should consider doing marketing in-house first before hiring a marketing agency. And why is that the case? I know that, as the owner of a Digital Marketing Agency, this is not something that I should recommend. However, this article is aimed at removing the ambiguity that usually surrounds the topic. You may find, after reading everything, that I am wrong, in which case you should immediately get in touch with me or some other Agency.

People think that in-house marketing is expensive

Is in-house marketing expensive?

So, why are people so frightened of doing marketing in-house? The truth is; Marketing has so many areas of specialization that the whole thing can, at first glance, appear rather daunting. Let’s assume that you are a mid-sized company as an example. If that is the case, your company is probably going to need the following people to do your marketing;

  • SEO Specialist
  • Content Manager
  • Copywriter
  • Social Media Manager
  • Public Relations Manager
  • Front End Web Developer
  • Web Designer
  • Graphics Designer
  • Web Analytics Specialist
  • Marketing Analytics Specialist

Outline of costs of hiring in-house

Hope you see where I am going with this; most businesses balk at the potential costs of hiring in-house staff to do their marketing. They think that they are going to need to hire someone to do their SEO, another person to do their web designing, another one to handle their graphics, a marketing analytics specialist, a social media manager, a copywriter, a content manager, someone to handle their public relations and much more! The table below shows a breakdown of the minimum and maximum salaries that large businesses can expect should they choose to hire EVERYONE the list;

Specialization Minimum Annual Maximum Annual
SEO/SEM Specialist $73,500 $102,750
Content Manager $66,000$90,250
Social Media Manager$68,250$93,500
Public Relations Manager$80,750$103,000
Marketing Analyst$74,750$102,250
Web Designer$81,000$113,750
Graphic Designer$66,500$93,000
Web Analytics Specialist$81,750$111,250
Front End Web Developer$72,0000$100,000
Total $742,000 $1,019,500

In-house is viable because you don’t actually need to hire all these people!

The good thing; and one of the reasons why doing your marketing in-house is a viable option, is that you don’t actually need to hire EVERYONE on the above list. It’s all going to depend on the size of your company, of course. If you are a really large entity, then you may need several SEO Specialists, Social Media Managers etc. However, for most small to medium sized businesses, there is really no reason for doing this! But why is that the case?

Hire only the people you need!

If you want to hire somebody in-house, you are going to have to think about which one(s) to hire, whether or not that specific person is going to be able to generate more sales for you, and how long it is going to take for that person to show results. Each business is different, of course. One business, as an example, may REALLY NEED the services of a Web Designer, while another could conceivably not operate without a Copywriter.

Let’s assume, as an example, that you own an eCommerce business. If that is the case, then you are going to ABSOLUTELY need a Front End Web Developer. However, you may not actually need a Public Relations Manager, or a Web Designer (this can be a once off cost) or a Content Manager. By choosing to hire only those marketing specialists that are crucial for the running of your business, you can, therefore, make it work in-house.

In-house is also viable because people can be specialists in various fields

People can have various areas of specialization

Again, let me reiterate that the reason that most people are against hiring people to do their digital marketing in-house has to do with the fact that there are so many areas of specialization in the field. However, that is an ABSOLUTELY wrong way of looking at it! In reality, you don’t actually need to hire an SEO specialist, a content manager, a copywriter, a social media manager and a public relations manager etc. That’s because people tend to be specialists in a number of areas. What’s more, you can choose to have someone that you already have under your roof LEARN how to do new stuff. But what do I mean by that?


Well, here are a few examples to help illustrate the point that I am trying to put across here;

  • Most Content Managers already know how to do Copywriting. If they don’t, then this is something that they can learn to do in no time.
  • Almost all Digital Marketing Specialists know how to do Social Media Marketing. If the one that you have in-house does not, then go ahead and fire them right now!
  • Any one of the specialists that we have mentioned in this article can learn how to do Graphics Designing.
  • A Social Media Manager can most definitely learn how to go beyond merely creating wall posts to the creation of Facebook Ads, etc.

Anyway, the point that I am trying to put across here is that many of the digital marketing skills that a business requires can be COMBINED in one person. This makes is possible to hire 2 or 3 instead of 20 people to do your marketing. Thus in-house marketing remains a viable option.

Advantages of doing your marketing in-house

So, what are the advantages of hiring somebody in-house to do digital marketing for your business? What makes this a viable option when compared to hiring the services of an Agency? The following are the advantages of hiring staff in-house when it comes to marketing;

  • You get control over what happens. You know
    exactly when you wish what to happen and this is something that you can control
    using your own employees.
  • Most of the Digital Marketing Agencies that
    are out there will be glad to take your money without doing much. I won’t go so
    far as to say they are scams, but that’s not far from the truth. With in-house
    hiring you can set concrete benchmarks towards which your team needs to work.
    This makes it easy to review progress and to amend your strategies as needed.
  • You don’t need to pay for extra work. These
    are already your employees, and you are already paying them a salary.
  • In-house offers your employees the chance to
    develop beyond their current ceilings. You can get one of your employees to
    learn Front end web development, as an example. If accompanied by a reward,
    this would keep them motivated.

What it means to hire an agency to do your marketing

You can talk to an Agency for your marketing

There are several reasons why working with an agency usually wins the “Marketing Agency vs in-house,” debate. With an Agency, you can look at paying between $2,500 and $25,000 per month for digital marketing services. It’s all going to depend on what you are having them do, of course. As an example, for SEO, I won’t even touch anything below $3000 because there are a lot of overheads. These include such things as link building and relationship building. In most cases, you actually need to pay for links.

You get everything under one roof

So, why should you consider an agency in the Marketing Agency vs in-house battle? The great thing about digital marketing agencies is that a lot of the titles that we were talking about earlier are included in an agency. What it means is that you get everything under one roof. So, you don’t have to worry about getting a Social Media Manager, a Content Manager, a Web Designer etc. All that you will need to do is negotiate the terms with your chosen Agency, and depending your needs, they will handle these areas on your behalf.

Most employees don’t want to do extra work

Unwilling to do extra work

Am I biassed? Probably, but I don’t give a damn! I recommend that you should go ahead and try hiring someone(s) to do your digital marketing in-house. That’s how I started. I had to learn to do everything on my own. However, one of the things that you are going to discover is that most employees are not going to be willing to learn stuff that’s beyond their areas of specialization.

If you have an employee who is courageous and wants to build themselves up by learning new things, then give that guy a shot! Such an individual can be hard to find, but should you be lucky, you can have someone in-house who gets most of the areas on our list done reasonably well. Of course, that’s assuming that you are a small business. For large entities, it may be preferable to hire several people to share the workload.

What are the costs of hiring an agency?

Below are some of the costs that you can expect should you choose to hire an agency like mine;

  • SEO: The cost
    for SEO from my end is going to be about $3000
    a month.
  • PPC costs: You are
    looking at about $1000 a month to begin with.
  • Facebook
    Facebook ads are the same as PPC ads.
    You can expect to pay beginning from $1000 a month. For that you get
    advertisements, the copy, the targeting, the graphic designs, the reporting. The
    reporting is done automatically through the interfaces like Google Ads and
    Facebook Ads and even Google Analytics.
  • Remarketing: We also
    do remarketing on Outbrain. These
    are those ads that you see at the bottom of articles on CNN, Time Magazine etc.
    Taboola is another company that you can use for remarketing.

Additional advantages of hiring an agency to do your marketing

I have already mentioned some of the reasons why you will hear people saying hiring an agency wins the marketing agency vs in-house debate. The following are additional advantages to hiring an agency;

  • Agencies are likely to be abreast with latest trends in the field. This comes from having to work with so many companies. In-house staff are, on the other hand, more likely to stagnate and become obsolete. This makes it better to hire agencies to stay competitive.
  • Agencies can be cheaper, since you are only paying for a PARTICULAR skill that you need at a give point in time. If you need somebody to spruce up your company’s website, as an example, then you don’t actually need to hire a web designer in-house to get it done. You can simply get it done via an agency.

How hiring a digital marketing agency works

As already noted, you need to consider in-house first when it comes to digital marketing the marketing agency vs in-house debate. However, should that not be a viable option, then go ahead and hire a digital marketing agency. The process of hiring a digital marketing agency is usually composed of the following steps;

  • You first of all need to submit Requests for
    Proposal to at least 3 agencies.
  • They will respond and you will need to attend
    presentations with these agencies.
  • Once you have chosen an agency, you need to
    negotiate contract terms.
  • You will probably need to attend meetings with
    the agency. Note that this can be done over the phone or via Skype. So you
    don’t actually need to meet somebody from the agency in person, though that
    would probably be the best.
  • You get to check on the progress that has been
    made after 30 days.

Come up with a marketing blueprint

So, what do I recommend? Well, before you even look into hiring an agency or hiring anybody, find out what your company needs. This is something that I talk about in my article covering tips on hiring a marketing agency. What you need to do is get a marketing blueprint. That is important because it will help you fully understand your needs as a business. Having a blueprint will help you find the right kind of person. Your options are to either hire an employee or promote an existing employee.

People can learn new stuff

As already mentioned, several of the skills that are needed in Digital Marketing can be combined in one person. You can also get people to learn new stuff. If you already have a Social Media Manager, as an example, you can have them learn how to do Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and Analytics etc. However, most employees aren’t going to want to do added tasks (we are all inherently lazy, right!). You are going to have to reward them according to get them to go beyond their comfort zones!

What happens is that if you take the strategy of first fully understanding your marketing needs as a business, you will be able to also take that and pitch it to a marketing agency. That way, you won’t be scammed because you will have a fairly good idea of what to expect before even talking to anyone. If you don’t have a marketing plan in place before you start reaching out to agencies, you are going to get pricing all over the place. This is going to make things rather confusing.

You can use a hybrid approach

This is something that I wish to point out before closing this marketing agency vs in-house write-up. Though you may come upon a bunch of people that say you should go for a marketing agency, and others that say in-house is the best, the reality of the situation is that most of the businesses that are out there uses a hybrid approach. So, how does this work?

They hire a person or people in-house to handle a few areas of specialization. Let’s say, as an example, that your company decides to hire a content manager. You can then hire a digital marketing agency as and when the need arises. That would be if you need some service that cannot be performed in-house. Let’s say you wish to hire a web developer. It’s rather unlikely that you are going to find a Content Manager who also does Web Development. So you are going to need to outsource that requirement.

How we can help you come up with a Digital Marketing Plan

Our Digital Marketing Pricing

If you need help coming up with a Digital Marketing Plan or a Digital Marketing Strategy for your business, don’t hesitate to contact us at Planet Marketing today. Also check out our digital marketing pricing. Basically, you are going to need an audit to see where you are right now. This will enable you to understand where you want to get to in the future and how fast you can get there. Basically, it’s going to come down to your budget, knowing where you are and having a plan in place. Have that plan in place before you even hire somebody; whether it’s an agency or an employee.

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