As a marketing agency, it’s not uncommon for an executive to ask us point blank why investing in us is better than hiring a new in-house marketer. And it’s a fair question. After all, spending $10,000 on an agency every month could also equate to roughly one new full-time employee with a shiny marketing MBA.
It’s an option, for sure. But for a lot of companies, there might be a better option—investing money in a marketing agency.
While hiring a new employee versus hiring an agency isn’t necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison, there are a lot of hidden benefits to the latter that a smart business should understand before making the decision.
So let’s look into it.
Evaluating Skill Sets
When you hire a full-time employee, you get one person with a static set of skills. Of course, they’ll learn and adapt once they join your organization, but odds are they know a lot in specific areas (say, strategy and brand) but maybe less in others (like paid media and SEO).
This might be fine if you have a very specific role in mind that you know without a doubt will positively impact the business. But if you need a wide skill set, or you need the person to do a lot of different things, you might consider an agency.
When you spend money with an agency, you can divvy up your budget and hours across any slice of the marketing pie. One month you might need SEO work. The next few months could be used to revamp your website. And at the end of the year, perhaps you’re spending money on strategic brand work. So instead of restricting yourself to a few areas of expertise, you can use that money in a lot of different ways across a variety of services.
On the logistical side of things, hiring an agency might cost less than hiring a new employee with an equivalent salary.
Let's Talk Benefits
Unlike new full-time hires, bringing on an agency doesn’t require you to pay for things like benefits or vacation time. Every dollar you spend is going directly into your marketing; nothing’s getting diverted to things like overhead or internal meetings. So when you spend money, you know exactly where it’s going—directly to making sure your marketing is executed.
Access to Tools
Another advantage to hiring an agency—especially an agency with a robust digital department—over a single employee is that you also gain access to software platforms, tools, and overall martech experience without extra cost. At Element Three, we’re always vetting and testing new platforms to see what’s actually worth investing in. When you bring on an agency, you don’t pay for the tools we use (or the time we’ve spent learning the tools), you just pay for us.
Agencies Talk Shop—All the Time.
How many hours a day does your team talk about marketing? For agencies, it’s almost 100%. It’s what we do. We talk about websites and email campaigns, we look at best practices and participate in heated debates over landing page messaging and ad creative. We’re reading about marketing, sending our people to conferences, and always looking to stay on the cutting edge. It’s not that other organizations don’t do these things. But we have to, or else we’ll be out of a job and out of business.
Let’s say you work at a manufacturing organization. How often is a full-time employee talking strictly about marketing? How often are they having conversations about the product? An in-house employee will always have more context than an agency regarding the product. But what they won’t always have is the breadth of campaign experiences that agencies have to pull from that leads them to the best answer to a marketing problem faster.
Again, this isn’t an agencies-are-better-than-everyone-else thing. It’s just that for a lot of us, we’ve launched hundreds of campaigns for a wide variety of clients. So when you hire an agency, you also gain that knowledge and the past learnings from all the failures and successes we’ve experienced.
Wrapping It Up
We understand there is not always one right answer. Whether your solution is to hire in-house marketers or outsource some of the work to an agency, both models work for different companies. Truly. But regardless of the decision you make, it’s important to think about how that choice will ultimately impact the organization, overall business goals, and the bottom line.
Dustin Clark // Strategy
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