Deciding when to invest in a new hire can be tricky, especially if your business is looking to grow but needs to be strategic with spending.
As an entrepreneur, I had to make decisions about when to hire, when to outsource, and when to contract freelancers. As a marketing professional, I advise prospects and customers which marketing resources make the most sense for their current situation and their ultimate goals.
The decision to go for in-house marketing versus an agency (or both – I’ve seen a lot of them, too) will depend on several factors, including your current strengths, short- and long-term goals, and the availability of resources.
When to use an internal resource
1. Your marketing efforts are working
If you have tons of website traffic and you manage to keep your sales pipeline full of qualified leads, keep it up! Do what you can to keep this marketing team happy and engaged.
But if you’re reading this article, it probably isn’t.
That said, even having a killer marketing team doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t also benefit from partnering with an outside company. Sometimes highly skilled B2B marketing teams work with agencies at the forefront of the marketing strategy to train their teams or to test new strategies.
2. You have the money and resources to support additional staff
Some people, especially in the B2B or SaaS space, think their product or industry is just too complex to outsource. They would rather have dedicated marketing resources who spend all of their time learning how the company works than an agency typically juggling multiple clients and industries.
If your company can afford to hire an in-house resource (with salary and benefits) and provide training and support resources, you may feel better with in-house marketing than with an agency.
However, a marketing resource is typical not enough. Marketing requires a wide variety of skills that often cannot be found in a person. And if you spend all of your time training an employee and that employee leaves, you’re back at the beginning.
3. You already have marketing expertise
CEOs and founders often wear lots of hats, and maybe one of those hats in your company says “Marketer Extraordinaire”. If you already have experience with B2B demand generation or content marketing, you may be able to quickly identify ways to optimize your strategy.
But be careful: B2B marketing requires a different strategy than B2C marketing. Previous experience with social media marketing, B2C marketing, SEO, or other marketing strategies are not always meaningful when targeting a B2B buyer within a complex buying cycle.
When in doubt, consulting an outside agency can help you identify your weaknesses and ensure that you hire a team member with the right skills.
When to hire a marketing agency
1. You need to grow fast
Generating results from marketing campaigns takes time, but it takes a lot longer if you don’t know where to start.
Building and implementing an effective marketing strategy takes a lot of research, planning, and testing. There are lots of B2B marketing tips online, but does any of them fit your own business goals? Not often.
Marketing agencies have already done all of this work and can quickly come up with a plan. They have already worked with companies like yours and can immediately give you recommendations for strategies to help you achieve your goals.
In my agency, we always test new practices on ourselves first so that every recommendation comes from experience. Effective marketing requires some trial and error, of course, but why spend your time (and money) starting from scratch when you can easily and inexpensively bring in the expertise of a full marketing team?
2. You can’t afford to make mistakes
Hiring a team of seasoned marketers to execute your strategy reduces the risk of something going wrong – sometimes catastrophic. The best marketing agencies need to follow trends and new strategies to be successful.
When interviewing agencies, ask them how often they introduce new services and how they do it. Are you guessing it or giving it wings? Then this is not the right agency for you.
In addition, partnering with a third party will minimize any risk that could affect your business in the event that a customer or competitor questions something in your content.
Startups and growing B2B companies are particularly vulnerable to risk, so any steps you can take to mitigate that risk – even in your marketing – can make building your business easier.
3. You want high quality content without a huge expense
This is probably the most obvious reason a B2B company would outsource its marketing. Outsourcing gives you high quality, results-driven marketing at a fraction of the price of a full in-house marketing team.
The real value of the marketing agency you work with is the talent and experience they offer. This allows you to add a dedicated team of marketers for a few thousand dollars a month:
- Strategic Marketing Program Manager
- Industry-specific and conversion-oriented copywriter
- Technology and data specialist
- Brand conscious designer
Even with the most comprehensive agency contract, the cost is much less than paying the salary plus overhead for five employees. A lot of startups and scaleups (and even mature companies) just can’t afford that many employees on their payroll.
In-house vs. agency: choose the right marketing resource for you
I may run a marketing agency, but I know that outsourcing isn’t always the right option. Furthermore, agencies and all outsourcing options are not all created equal; Every company deserves to find the solution that suits their needs, be it in the form of in-house marketing or agency options.
Don’t let indecision lead to marketing falling by the wayside. Whether you choose to insource or outsource, your company’s brand should always be in the care of a marketer.
Do your research to explore the options available and weigh the investment (and potential return) that best fits your business.
More resources on in-house marketing versus agency hiring
In-House vs. Agency: The Way to Reinforce Your In-House Marketing Team
Social media staffing: employee, agency or consultant? The advantages and disadvantages of each setting
Hiring Marketing Freelancers: Top Trends and Challenges [Infographic]