hiring an agency

B2B In-House Marketing vs Hiring an Agency – Which Works Best for You?

If you are a business looking to expand your reach, get more customers, and drive sales revenue, digital marketing is one of the most effective strategies to achieve all of these goals and more! Whether it’s social media marketing, pay-per-click advertising, or search engine marketing, a digital transformation can help your marketing scale like no other traditional marketing approach can.

Where will your business get better value: with in-house marketing vs agency marketing? There are pros and cons to each. The right answer can also depend on the industry you are in, the size of your business, and the business objectives or marketing campaign goals you are trying to meet. 

B2B marketing and in-house marketing vs agency

There are important considerations to keep in mind relating to the marketing activities of B2B businesses. A large part of these considerations will be determined by the resources you have to cater to your customer’s needs and your long-term goals.

In this blog, we’ll help you answer some of these questions and also help you structure your approach – whether you are building an in-house digital marketing team or looking to hire a stellar marketing agency. 

What’s the difference between in-house vs agency marketing?

In-house marketing versus agency marketing are two different ways to handle your business’s marketing function. While each has its own advantages and disadvantages, it is important to weigh them carefully before making a decision.

An in-house marketing team means resources that are on your own marketing team. This gives you complete control of their activities, the marketing strategy and their execution. You can also very closely tailor your marketing efforts to meet your business objectives. This is especially helpful since an in-house team would already be privy to how your business operates.

An external agency marketing team implies that you have hired an outside marketing company to carry out some or all of your marketing activities. Hiring an external agency is cost-effective compared to an in-house team but you lose some of that control and intimate business know-how that an in-house team brings to the table. 

Pros and cons of an in-house marketing team 

An in-house marketing team lets you develop, manage and maintain your digital marketing strategy more closely. There are many benefits to having such a team set-up.

Familiarity with the company & products

An in-house marketing team lives and breathes your brand and company culture. They are not just a marketing operations team but also the brand custodians. Unlike an external agency, an in-house team understands your company from the get-go. 

Full access to the marketing team

An in-house team is way more accessible than an external marketing agency. You can just walk over to the desk or office and have a strategic conversation.

Devoted to your business

An in-house marketing team is exclusively working on your business. You have 100% of their attention. They will dedicate themselves to adapting to your brand and crafting a marketing strategy unique to your business.

Full control of your marketing strategy

Outsourcing your team’s marketing function also means that you are sharing your marketing strategy. If you want to have complete control over your marketing, working with an agency marketing team can be difficult. 

Can provide consistency across campaigns

An in-house marketing team will be more consistent in their marketing efforts since they understand your brand more intimately and know the perils of rocking the boat too much. Moreover, since your brand is managed by a single team, the output is more consistent than varied.

Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the benefits, let’s look at the flip side and see some of the disadvantages of an in-house marketing team.

Results require a highly competent team

Good talent doesn’t come cheap and establishing an internal marketing team takes time. It might take you months if not weeks to get your first marketing hire.

You’ll need to have at least 10 resources to have a well-staffed in-house marketing team. These hires will need to have complementary skill sets and job profiles like – SEO manager, graphic designer, social media manager, copywriter, content manager, demand generation manager, account-based marketing manager, marketing coordinator, and finally, a marketing director to manage the team.

As you can see, a good marketing function cannot be run with just 1 or a few employees.

Hiring so many resources takes time and effort. Not to mention this is time and effort for a lot of cross-functional departments as well, which have a stake in that marketing team’s hire and may determine the hiring strategy. For e.g. the HR team will draft the listing. The Sales and Product teams will give inputs to the listing, and so on. 

Moreover, this is not a one-time cost. It is important to consider ongoing (and increasing) costs like medical benefits, employee insurance and pension contributions as well. An internal hire costs more over time and there is a serious skill-to-time progression ratio that you need to keep in mind when you are recruiting.

 A full suite of marketing software tools essential

In the modern day, a marketing team cannot function in a silo. Especially in the age of digital marketing, a lot of marketing happens over software that is custom-built for marketers. This marketing software needs to be bought and adds to the overall expenses of an in-house marketing hire. 

Some of this marketing software includes tools to manage email marketing, SEO analytics, a CRM system, a content management system, project management tools and more.

Scaling your marketing efforts

Sales teams have monthly and quarterly quotas and manage through peak periods that can create internal bottlenecks. A large volume of business leads, proposals or sales leads to the marketing team having to work double time. Inevitably, some of the longer-term marketing goals fall by the wayside and are forgotten about. 

On the other hand, services agencies can provide essential capacity and skills. A full-service agency will manage load times and also provide varied skill sets (e.g. PPC advertising) that your in-house team might not be an expert in. 

Managing employee turnover

When you hire an in-house employee, you have employee turnover. This is a big disadvantage in the in-house vs agency marketing debate. The loss of team members can damage your business since they also take away a lot of institutional memory. 

With an agency, you don’t have to worry about recruiting and retention, and even turnover. The agency manages all of this stuff for you while ensuring continuity of business and services.

Pros and cons of an agency marketing team

An external digital marketing team uses various digital marketing strategies to help your business grow. It’s important to understand whether an external marketing team really is the right choice for you. 

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of hiring an external agency marketing team – 

On-demand expertise

Agencies have a team of experts to choose from. When you are working with an external team, you have available to you a diverse set of professionals that are experienced in their respective digital marketing functions and industries. This allows you to hire an agency that is an expert in your business or your preferred digital marketing strategy, such as search engine optimization. 

Working with a specialist helps you get the most return on investment for your marketing spending, making it a very budget-friendly choice. 

Advanced capabilities

A specialized digital marketing agency brings a team skill set that supersedes an in-house team. This is especially true if you are a small to medium-sized business.

These skill sets can be accessed to beta test features of Google Ads or Twitter product updates, or even completely new advanced skill sets such as setting up geo-fencing ads, which your in-house marketing team may not have heard of.

An in-house marketing team will always have to keep playing catch-up to the periodic Google algorithm updates, besides staying abreast with all the marketing platform updates. This requires a reasonable amount of time to reskill and upskill. This isn’t the case with a specialist marketing agency that will always be well-equipped to handle these changes and be able to tune its strategy in response to the changes. 

Access to software and tools

If you hire an external B2B marketing agency, you do not have to get into the hassle of purchasing marketing software, maintaining licenses, or purchasing highly specialized research. Your agency would already have access to these specialized tools and research.

Access to these software and tools comes with added costs as well. An average marketing tech stack in a small to medium B2B enterprise in Canada can easily cost between $2000 – $5000. These are costs that an in-house marketing team cannot avoid and tend to increase as the size and complexity of the team and projects increase.

In certain cases, some agencies might even have custom software that can help your campaign reporting and analysis a lot easier and provide you with heretofore unknown insights, that can be valuable to your Sales and marketing teams. 

Diverse skill sets 

An in-house marketing team will need to have a fairly large number of resources to match up to the diversity of skill sets and experience offered by a B2B marketing agency.

A good B2B marketing agency allows you to take advantage of multiple digital marketing tactics at the same time, such as – 

  • Search engine optimization
  • Social media marketing
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Local search optimization
  • Email marketing
  • Lead generation and nurturing
  • Web design
  • Conversion rate optimization, and more

These diverse skill sets are brought together due to the varied nature of work that an agency does across its client portfolio. You as a customer can tap into this diversity and make the most of it. 

Scaling your marketing efforts

Whether you are looking to scale your marketing efforts during a busy season or improve your brand awareness across multiple social media channels, a B2B marketing agency is your trusted partner that can meet all challenges.

Managing the budget

Hiring B2B marketing agencies are known to be a cost-effective strategy to manage your marketing budget. Agency pricing depends on your needs and can vary based on how many services you require at any given point in time. 

You can obviously hire an agency on a retainer, but the pricing models are very flexible and cater to a diverse set of budget requirements. 

Now that we have taken a look at the advantages, it is time to look at the disadvantages of hiring a B2B marketing agency – 

Location is paramount

An agency that works in a different time zone and a different continent can become inaccessible especially when you need them. If you are a local business in pursuit of an agency located across the world, that becomes a disadvantage. 

It can become challenging to align schedules. That’s why it is important that you come to an agreement with the agency beforehand so that communication becomes seamless.

Numerous clients

B2B marketing agencies have numerous clients that they have to manage and provide quality services. Some businesses might feel neglected, especially if the agency is stretched or is not able to allocate adequate time to your business.

A good account manager will act like an extension of your team. This is the hallmark of a good and experienced agency. If your agency is not giving you enough time, it might be time to start looking for another agency. 

Some things to keep in mind while evaluating an agency – 

  • Start with knowing the goals that you want to meet and the budget you have in hand.
  • With these two key metrics handy, begin doing research online. Build a list of potential agencies, preferably ones that are in your time zone and have the skills that you are looking for.
  • Next step is to start looking into each agency’s digital presence, their website, the businesses they’ve worked with, how long they’ve been in business and so on.
  • This will give you a healthy understanding of each agency’s expertise and help you narrow down your list further.
  • With a shortlisted list of agencies, you can now begin reaching out to each of them and have a conversation.
  • Have the conversation include questions on – the frequency of reporting and reviews (quarterly, monthly, fortnightly, etc.), clients they’ve catered to in your industry, etc.
  • Look for agencies that have a culture fit, and a strong portfolio of clients in your industry!

Control over marketing

You cannot exercise 100% control over B2B marketing agencies. There will be challenges if you are looking at exerting complete control over your agencies’ operations. Agencies need creative freedom and flexibility just like an in-house marketing team would. 

Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons of both in-house marketing teams and external B2B marketing agencies, you can clearly see what works for your business. If you’d like to learn more before making a decision, do take a look at some of our other blogs on the topic.

If you’ve made the decision to hire an agency, you’ve made the right decision! Agencies can be a strong asset to have in your marketing strategy. They offer you the flexibility and expertise that cannot be found with an in-house team. That being said, each has its pros and cons and what you choose depends upon your marketing objectives.

If you’d like to get a complimentary strategic consultation with one of our specialists and get help in your search for a B2B marketing agency