Should You Hire an Inbound Marketing Agency or Build a Team In-House?

marketing juggler-resized-600

There’s no denying that you need to effectively marketing your business if you want to  generate visitors, leads and sales.

Traditional marketing like print ads, commercials, direct mail, etc. will soon seem like novelties as consumers quickly shift all of their attention online.

Now you not only need to manage other parts of your business, you need to start rethinking and implementing new marketing strategies including social media, content marketing, search marketing, etc.

Starting to feel a little overwhelmed? You probably need to start delegating your marketing to other people who have time and experience to create, implement and maintain a dynamic marketing strategy if you want to start reaching more of your marketing goals.


  1. Do it your self or in-house
  2. Work with a marketing agency
  3. Do nothing

Because the third option is a bad idea, we will focus the rest of this article on the question many business owners and managers face:

“Should we do marketing In-house or work with a marketing agency?”

Don’t look back. I mean it, don’t do it.


Courtesy of Pocket Your Shop

You’ve heard it a million times, marketing has changed. With the internet, social media and mobile devices the consumer is in control of the buying process and is very good at tuning out intrusive forms of advertising like banner ads, radio, TV, etc.

You might have the best sales team in the world, but you still need visitors and leads to open the way for communication with your sales team.

Nowadays if you want to effectively market your business and generate more visitors and leads for your sales team, you need to create measurable marketing that people are attracted to. We call this inbound marketing.

Why should you invest in inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is not new, in 1895 John Deere famously published “The Furrow” and sent it to farmers to share information on farming and educate them on best practices. When farmers read this and decided they needed new equipment, John Deere was the first place they went.

Luckily, this is not 1895, we’ve got a little tool called the internet which enables businesses to connect with potential customers across the world. When used correctly the internet and inbound marketing can effectively generate more visitors and leads that you can turn into paying customers.

Inbound marketing’s required resources.

I am sure you’ve heard the saying, “nothing worth doing is easy.” And while learning different aspects of inbound marketing would not be too difficult, effectively using each tool to it’s full potential in sync with other tools can be difficult and will require an investment of your time, resources and yes, money.

Now if I haven’t scared you off yet, here’s the required resources you’ll need:

  • Skills needed: Marketing/project management, graphic design, web/mobile development skills, copywriting, search engine optimization, content marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, analytical interpretation and technology savvy.
  • Inbound marketing software: There are some great all-in-one marketing platforms out there like Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot or Moz. Unfortunately, those come with premium price tags. Luckily, there are a lot of free and affordable tools like MailChimp, WordPress, Hootsuite, Google Analytics, and CRM platforms that you can take advantage of.
  • Other tools and software: Aside from having a fast, reliable computer to work from, you’ll need other software like Photoshop, Microsoft Office or iWork, website building software, video editing, project management, etc.

Do it your self or in-house.


Inbound marketing’s required resources demands that your business manages campaigns, ensures you’re meeting KPIs (key performance indicators) and is keeping everything on track to deliver positive ROI.

As we discussed, if you are a business owner and/or manager, doing this alone while running a business day-to-day is near impossible unless you have a highly skilled marketing team or endless budget

Unfortunately, most business do not have all of the required staff, skills and resources. This means if there is any chance of successfully implementing inbound marketing you may have to hire some new employees.

For example, let’s say you bring on a new marketing manager and graphic designer. The average salary of a marketing manager is $75,000 while a designer averages $50,000.

Take into consideration, CNNMoney published an article that said employees will often cost 18%-26% more once you’ve added in their benefits and taxes.

Marketing Manager: $75,000 + 18% or $13,500 = $88,500

Designer: $50,000 + 18% or $9,000 = $59,000

$88,500 + $59,000 = $147,500

Remember this does not take into account the small, sometimes hidden costs that come with hiring new employees like training, sick days, paid vacation, office space, computers, or any other supplies and tools they will need.

Pros of going in-house:

  • You can hand pick your entire marketing team
  • Your business is solely responsible for your own success and failures
  • End-to-end control of your marketing efforts
  • Nimbleness and ability to quickly delegate
  • Can work in synergy with other in-house staff

Cons of going in-house: 

  • High cost of a small, specialized team
  • The need to hire and train new staff
  • Requires office space and supplies
  • Sick days, paid vacation, benefits and payroll taxes
  • Staff can get bogged down with too many initiatives and projects to manage
  • Easy to get tunnel vision and not think outside the box
  • You could end up micromanaging every marketing campaign

Work with a marketing agency.


When some people hear “marketing agency” or “ad agency” they might picture Don Draper from Mad Men having a 5 cocktail lunch while brainstorming new ideas. But this isn’t the 60′s and life isn’t a TV show.

However, there are a lot of great agencies out there that are in the business of helping you grow yours and hopefully don’t drink all day long like Don.

Agencies come in all different shapes and sized with their own methodology and approach. It’s important you research your options so you find one that compliments your brand, vision and goals.

Understand that one-off tactics and fixed campaigns are broken and have been for a while. Your business needs a dynamic set of marketing assets that are being used in sync and then being continuously measured and adjusted. Because of this, you should seriously consider partnering with a marketing agency, not just hiring them for one-off project or campaign.

Full-service inbound marketing agencies typically charge anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 per month depending on the size of your business, required services and time frame of your marketing goals.

Let’s say for example you partner with an agency at roughly $8,000 per month. You will pay  $96,000 per year as compared to paying $147,500 per year for two full-time employees.

Numbers don’t lie, taking this route, you’ll save over $50,000 compared to the other example.

Pros of working with an agency:

  • Have structured processes they can scale to your business
  • Diverse well rounded skill set
  • Website and content design and develop expertise
  • It’s their job to follow and learn the latest marketing trends
  • Manages projects so you do not have to, no micro-managing
  • You can reallocate time and money to focus on day-to-day operations
  • No training involved
  • They already have the required tools, resources and supplies
  • Help identify and cut unnecessary marketing costs
  • Their experience helps create and implement successful strategies

Cons of working with an agency: 

  • Your account does not get full attention every day, all day
  • Assigned teams work on multiple accounts
  • If they do not specialize in your industry there may be a small learning curve
  • Less control over every campaign and project

Final Thoughts

Obviously larger budgets afford you more options, but when you compare these alternatives side by side, with price usually being a determining factor, you’ll get far more value when working with a marketing agency.

Marketing agencies have the processes, experience, resources and time needed to ensure you are getting the most value out of every dollar in your marketing budget.

Remember your marketing is an investment, not a cost. Treat it that way.

What do you think? Are you currently doing your marketing in-house or have you partnered with an agency? Do you plan on changing that in the future? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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