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Inbound Marketer vs. Marketing Agency: Which Hire is More Profitable?

June 6, 2017 Andy Beohar

 Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” That’s the best argument we can think of for teaming up with a marketing agency instead of using a single in-house inbound marketer. Today’s marketing challenges are so complex that you need a team of experts in your corner to give you the competitive edge you seek.

Hiring a solo inbound marketer puts all your eggs in one basket. It may be a great basket, but there’s no way that one person can have all the expertise that you’ll find in even the smallest of agencies. On the flip side, your in-house employee will be completely focused on your business, whereas a marketing agency will have additional clients to cater to.

These are just a few ideas to consider if you’re weighing the hire of an inbound marketer versus a marketing agency. Let’s explore the pros and cons, so you’ll be able to make an informed decision when the time is right for your business.

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Pros and Cons of Hiring a Marketing Agency

Marketing agencies act as a business partner by helping you develop and distribute messaging to support your brand. Agencies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. You'll find the big name and big city agencies, small one and two-employee shops, and affordable, skilled options that exist between the two.

Each will bring different skill sets and experiences to the marketing table—you just have to decide what you need. Actually, that’s one of the ways a marketing agency can help you. Experienced agencies have likely worked with businesses similar to yours, so they have a good sense of what works and what doesn’t work in your industry.

Other benefits of working with an external marketing resource include:

  • Experience. You may only be able to afford one marketer who is skilled in some aspects of marketing. An agency will have experts in every area. Even if you only have one primary contact, the agency is going to bring all their resources to help you get the job done right.
  • ROI. A skilled agency will be able to pay for itself with the money you make from targeted marketing campaigns. Each campaign must have a clear benchmark to measure your success. We often find this is one critical area that many solo practitioners of the marketing art miss because it's very time-consuming.

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  • Competition. Marketing agencies focus strongly on their customers because they know that bad news travels fast. While you have to hold employees accountable for their actions, the fact that there are other competing marketing agencies waiting in the wings to take over your work can be leveraged to your benefit.
  • Scalability. When your marketing starts working, you’ll know it. The leads will roll in faster, and more deals will close. That is not the time to scale back your marketing efforts—it’s time to push harder. But if you have a single marketing person doing the work, how can that happen with only so many hours in the day? Unless you can clone your solo marketer, you’re left with adding and training additional employees to do more. One significant benefit of a marketing agency is their flexibility. They can scale up or back, or shift focus by increasing hours in one area or reducing in another. It’s simply an issue of resources. Because a marketing agency has the staff and tools already, they can flex when your business changes.
  • Cost. Hiring an internal team is much more expensive since you have to pay for marketing tools in addition to the employee(s) salary. One of the benefits of outsourcing any service these days is that it is less expensive than having it done in-house. Glassdoor says the average salary for a marketing manager is over $82,000. With a marketing employee, you’re paying salary, benefits, employment taxes, space, equipment, and more, for one person. With a marketing agency, you typically pay a monthly retainer for a team of individuals to work on your projects. Most of the tools the marketing agency uses come with your retainer.

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  • Buying Power. Let’s not forget that working with an agency gives you marketplace clout. In the same way working for a big company gives you better insurance rates, you have more buying power with an external agency who will get you better advertising or other service rates.
  • Simplification. Having a single external marketing firm handling everything from public relations to social media advertising, is a huge benefit. It’s one-stop shopping at its finest.
  • Faster. Marketing campaigns should launch more quickly because more people are working to make it happen.
  • Collaboration. Marketing people are social animals. They get their best ideas while collaborating in a big mosh pit of creativity. A single inbound marketer is out of their element, with no one to bounce ideas off of. How will they stay fresh in six months or a year?

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These are just a few of the benefits we can think of for hiring an external agency. So, what are the pros for hiring someone in house?

Pros and Cons of Hiring an Inbound Marketer

If you make the decision to hire an in-house marketing person, there are some benefits that will help your business. Here are our top three:

  • Singular Focus. Unlike an inbound marketer, you will not be the sole focus of the marketing agency, which will likely have more clients to serve. You may not get the immediate response you would with an in-house marketer. Then again, you might. Most agencies offer a single point of contact in the form of an account manager. That person’s success is measured by their ability to take good care of you. The level of responsiveness you receive is dependent upon the agency itself; open communication and transparency, along with customer responsiveness, are the hallmarks of the best marketing companies.
  • In-House Control. Your staff marketing rep will have complete control of the marketing agenda and voice. Decisions can be made faster in most cases as your marketing rep will “own” the work and the brand.
  • Risk. Hiring any external vendor implies risk. How will you know you can trust them to do the job they've promised? What happens to your momentum if you need to replace them? While the same considerations could be taken into account if you hire a full or part-time employee, this is also a possible drawback if you pick the wrong marketing agency.

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Weighing the Pros and Cons

Now that you’re thinking more about the pros and cons of hiring an inbound marketer or an external agency, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much time to you have to train and supervise an in-house person?
  • How much trust are you willing to put into an agency?
  • Who will be the primary point of contact for either option?
  • It’s unlikely you’ll be able to find an in-house person that is good at everything; what marketing functions are you willing to give up to an external vendor?
  • What are the core functions that you’ll want the marketing agency to exhibit?

We hope this article encapsulated all of the pros and cons for your consideration. Weigh all the options and choose wisely, the future of your brand depends upon it! For more information about the benefits of working with a knowledgeable marketing agency, contact our team today and set up a free consultation.

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