Where Should Your Marketing Budget Go: In House or, um, Out House?


One of the most important questions for growing businesses is, “What is the daily maximum amount of time that we can catch up on Netflix shows at the office and still make money?”

We believe the second most important question is:

Should we handle our marketing in house or outsource it?

The structure, culture, and goals of your company are what makes it unique, so there isn’t a straight-forward answer to this question. Here are some things to consider, though, while determining what might make the most sense for your organization.

In-house marketing

If your marketing team is bringing in leads to your sales team on a consistent basis, then you’re probably in good shape. Hell, the fact that you already have a marketing team suggests that you’re ahead of the curve.

If you’re still working on building a marketing team, look for individuals dedicated to each area—design, social media, SEO, etc.—to make sure you have a well-rounded team. When you have a group of people with widespread knowledge in specific areas, there’s less pressure on each person to become go-to people in disciplines outside of their expertise; a graphic designer is not a copywriter and vice versa.

A huge advantage of having an in-house team is that they know the inner workings of your company and know your brand first-hand, whereas an external agency would have to start by learning all about what you do. But if you’re hiring people from outside your organization, you still have to spend the time bringing them up to speed, so this might sway you to look to outsource.

Out-house(?) marketing

If you’d have to hire new employees for a marketing team anyway, it might be worth it to outsource because either way, you’d be spending time conveying your brand identity, company culture, etc.

The most convincing case for outsourcing marketing (or anything, for that matter) is that you save on overhead. The average salary for a marketing manager in the United States is $93,125—and that’s just one employee! An entire in-house team of marketing experts would be quite costly. Working with a marketing agency offers the same experience and quality at a fraction of the annual cost.

Aside from saving on salaries, outsourcing allows you to skirt the costs of providing benefits, equipment, and software, and saves you from having to dig out some office space in the basement.

Additionally, marketing agencies have to keep up-to-date with the latest trends, whereas in-house marketers often don’t have the time to make this a top priority. The same can be said for in-depth experience—agencies have worked with several different clients, usually in a variety of industries, and have already learned what works and what doesn’t, so they can be more efficient than an in-house team.

They also often work with leading-edge software that you might not be able to afford with your marketing budget, or have the time to become adequately skilled in.

Outsourcing to an agency gives your team the time to focus on other areas of the business. Even if you have a marketing director or coordinator, that person could be looking ahead to your next project or campaign, while the agency executes the current one.

Also, not to get sappy on you, but if it turns out that you’re not seeing much ROI, canning your marketing agency would be much easier than having to fire an employee because you can’t afford their salary.

It probably seems like we’re trying to push you to outsource your marketing operation, but like most things, it always seems to come down to the flexibility in your budget. If you’re a midsize company with deep pockets, go nuts and build a large in-house team. You might be a small business that hasn’t traditionally shelled out much for marketing; however, sometimes you have to take a step back to take a step forward. Spending more on marketing one year might pay off the next.

What approach is right for your company?

Good question.

Do you have an in-house team of experts in the field, as well as a sizable budget? If so, sounds like you’re all set and maybe wasted your time reading this.

Are you lacking any in-house help and are trying to get started? Then we’d suggest hiring an outside agency.

Do you have one or two in-house marketing employees with some experience, but not enough time? Take the hybrid approach! Have your marketing coordinator/director work with an agency. It might seem like doubling your efforts because the marketing lead on your end would be required to manage two separate teams, but the entire marketing operation for a company isn’t a job for one person and we’d be willing to bet they’ll welcome the extra responsibility that comes with the extra help.

Discuss with other decision-makers and find what might work for your company and put a plan in motion. Then put your feet up and get watching “Schitt’s Creek”—season 4 is finally on Netflix.

Already have an in-house marketing team?

Download our checklist 10 Steps to Running a Successful Inbound Marketing Campaign and put them to work!

I love a good checklist!

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