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Online Marketing: In-House or Agency?

By Judy Riojas - January 23, 2014

A main concern of any growing business is, are we doing things the right way? Meaning, are we doing all that we can to make sure that the business has a foundation for longevity. Marketing/advertising is just one realm that this question can fall into, especially when deciding if your marketing should be done within your company or if you should outsource the work to experts. Which is best? Both, depending on your business.

The Math of In-House vs. Agency

I’ll be honest, one of the things that makes me wonder if my job at an online marketing firm will become unnecessary, is the idea that many companies will bring their marketing in-house. It makes sense, given that many companies feel that an in-house online marketing department can possibly keep costs down, because, hey, you’re only having to pay one person right?

Well, think about it this way, if any company hired an online marketing expert at a starting salary of $50,000, for example. One person, completely devoted to providing the best for your company and a strong addition to the marketing team. But the cost of hiring someone doesn’t just stop at the salary. Think about worker’s compensation, taxes, benefits, holidays and sick days. It could all add up to an employee costing from 25% to 40% more than the base salary. Not to mention training that person to stay current on marketing trends; that’s another extra cost. Now that same employee is actually costing your company $62,000 to $70,000.

A large amount of money like $70,000 wouldn’t be so bad if that were your entire marketing budget, however with an in-house rep, that will only cover his or her salary. You will probably need to set aside a separate budget for all of your marketing endeavors, possibly totaling close to $100,000. With an agency, that $70,000 is the entire budget and all that you’ll need to meet your goals.

Who are the real experts?

quality vs collaboration

Now imagine that that same amount of money is flooded into an agency’s fee. It doesn’t have to be a large firm with huge fees, just a firm that you know you can trust in the work. Just how much work can actually be done with that same amount of money by an online marketing firm that has multiple brains on the company’s account? The one true highlight of a firm is that while an in-house marketing representative may know the in’s and out’s of the company (and will undoubtedly know the online marketing world as well), you just can’t beat collaboration.

Your employee’s job is to know the company in order to do online marketing. A firm’s job is to know online marketing, and be a boss at it. They are spending their spare time finding the latest trends and tricks to provide the best for all of their clients, across all business models, becoming true experts along the way. The learning becomes an integral part of providing the best for every client, and it doesn’t come at an extra fee. So when you’ve hired someone to do online marketing for your company only, it may be limiting the types of research and learning that employee will find, thus hindering any benefit your company.

An agency provides a dynamic and collaborative environment for your account, with teams working hard to improve outcomes for your company. Your account can never stay static this way, not with the amount of brainpower on it. People of all talents and perspectives will be working on your account, and all of this for the same price of one employee.

Keep ‘Em Close To Maintain Quality Control

One time I heard a small business owner say that while his current marketing strategies were working, he just didn’t feel like the firm he was with was working diligently enough on his account. I’ll be the first to tell you that agencies can get overwhelmed and over-worked. We have a lot of clients to think about, and I completely understand why companies want to keep things close (I’m the same way with my work). Maybe you’re thinking the easier the access to the company, the better the quality. But when a team is dedicated to your account, versus just one person who is solely responsible, it can make a significant difference in outcomes. Remember that part above where I talked about brainpower?

Back to the business owner- he had a legitimate concern, and more power to him for knowing what he wanted, sometimes that’s half the battle. Hiring someone to take care of his online marketing made him feel better, and that’s perfectly fine. Quality control is never easy, and trusting your company with someone else, especially someone else who is taking your money for a service, is extremely difficult to do.

So, what exactly is the “right” way? Honestly, it just depends on what is best for your business. All marketing agencies work differently, just as different company’s in-house marketing departments do.

Feel free to give your opinions on the in-house vs. agency debate below, we’d love to hear it!

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