If you’re interested in scaling up your marketing team, your first instinct may be to hire new full-time marketers you can keep in house. But this isn’t always the right approach.
An in-house marketing team will offer you significant advantages. For example, you’ll have full access to your team members throughout the work week, and you can easily coordinate meetings between departments to create a big-picture vision for the future direction of your company. You can also ensure your marketers are working on your campaigns exclusively, getting to know your brand intimately well.
But there are some downsides as well. For starters, marketers are expensive; the average marketing manager salary is $54,268 per year, and with even a handful of people on your team, the costs can escalate quickly. On top of that, you’ll need to spend time and effort recruiting and hiring the best possible people for the job.
Should you consider outsourcing instead?
The Benefits of Outsourcing
Outsourcing your marketing efforts has several advantages over hiring an in-house team, including:
- Cost savings. Even though marketing agencies may seem expensive on paper, ultimately, outsourced marketing strategies tend to be more cost-efficient than hiring an in-house marketing team. There are several variables that make this the case. For example, agencies tend to outperform in-house marketers because of their experience and access to resources, netting you a higher return on investment (ROI) in each of your campaigns. Additionally, once you consider the secondary costs of hiring and managing in-house team members, even the most expensive outsourced options tend to be cheaper.
- Accountability. Hired professional marketers are incentivized to perform well because they want to keep their jobs. But outsourced options, like agencies and freelancers, tend to hold themselves even more accountable for their performance because their entire reputation is on the line. If something goes wrong in a campaign, they’ll stop at nothing to fix it.
- Access to more team members and resources. If you have a small budget, you may only be able to hire one or two additional people for your marketing team. But if you choose to hire an agency, you’ll get at least partial access to dozens, or possibly hundreds of different people. It’s an easy way to tap into infrastructure that already exists, rather than trying to build your own piece by piece.
- Niche specialization. Along similar lines, most marketing agencies employ niche specialists from a wide variety of different areas. Rather than working exclusively with a generalist (who’s good at many things, but not great at any of them), outsourcing allows you to tap into niche expertise at every turn. Ultimately, this results in better-performing campaigns, higher-quality materials, and more confidence in your work.
- Experience and direction. Collectively, agencies tend to have a ton of experience—and you’ll gain access to that experience immediately by hiring them. If you’re not sure about the direction of your campaign, outsourcing could be the way to go.
- Scalability. Another major advantage of the outsourced approach is scalability. Rather than hiring new people, one at a time, to gradually address your growing needs, you can contract with an agency and expand the range of services you draw from them. Agencies typically allow you to use them for as many or as few responsibilities as you want, so you can easily scale with them.
- Reduced dependencies. With an in-house team, your productivity and performance could suffer when an individual employee goes on vacation, takes leave, or is otherwise unavailable. But with an agency or a network of freelancers, you’ll have fewer such dependencies.
Key Factors to Consider
Of course, if you’re considering outsourcing instead of hiring an in-house team, there are several important variables you’ll need to keep in mind before finalizing your decision:
- Types of outsourcing. Most notably, there are different ways to outsource your marketing needs. The most straightforward and commonly chosen is working with a marketing agency, since in this approach, you’ll gain access to a full team of different marketing professionals. However, you may consider hiring freelancers and independent contractors, stitching together your own network. Agencies tend to be more expensive, but also more stable and more reliable—especially if you plan on working together on many projects.
- White label provisions. If you’re functioning as a marketing agency yourself, offering marketing services to other companies, you’ll need to make sure your marketing agency of choice has a white label option. This way, you’ll be able to present their marketing efforts as your own, building your existing relationship with clients.
- Services offered. Obviously, you should also consider the range of services offered. Some agencies and freelancers attempt to specialize in one focused area, serving a specific industry or offering one type of service. Others have a wider range, or function more generally as “full-service” firms.
- Communication. Pay attention to the flow of communication between you and your considered outsourced option. Is it easy to get in contact with these people? Do they answer your questions openly and transparently? An advantage of in-house marketers is their readiness and availability for communication; you should be able to count on strong communication from your agency if you decide to move forward.
- Trust and reputation. What do other people have to say about this agency or contractor? Have they gotten lots of good reviews? Are there testimonials to back them up?
- Costs. And of course, you’ll need to crunch the numbers. Can this agency offer you a high enough ROI to justify their monthly fees? Are they more or less expensive than it would be to hire a comparably competent in-house team?
For many businesses, hiring an in-house marketing team is still the superior option. You’ll have the professionals you need onsite, and you’ll be able to exercise more control over your campaigns. However, if you haven’t done a thorough analysis of the costs and benefits of such a move, it’s worth calculating the potential of outsourcing.