Brighter Messaging
marketing agency vs in-house, puzzle pieces fitting together

Marketing Agency vs In-House Resource: Which is best for your small business?

As a small business owner with limited resources and budget, plus an abundance of competing priorities in your head, you may be wondering whether to use an agency for your marketing or hire someone in-house. There are, of course, pros and cons to the marketing agency vs in-house team debate. We believe that, in most cases, it makes sense for small businesses to outsource their marketing efforts.

Of course, we would say that, wouldn’t we?

But we genuinely mean it. Brighter Messaging is also a small business, and we’re all about helping other small businesses succeed. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons why small businesses may think they need an in-house team, and how an agency like Brighter Messaging is able to deliver these benefits and add even more value (at a fraction of the cost).

You may also be interested in: 8 Hard Truths About Running a Small Business

Partner with an agency that delivers the benefits of an in-house marketing team and then some

When we speak to small business owners, they often wonder if they could benefit from having an in-house team rather than employing a marketing agency. The desires they cite are:

  • Complete control over the full-time employees, marketing strategy, and execution
  • Having a direct line to getting the answers they need about their marketing efforts
  • The cultural fit and knowledge that come with living and breathing the brand every day

These are all fair points, and we’ve applied this feedback as we’ve built out our business model. We believe that the benefits of outsourcing to the right agency outweigh the concerns about not having an in-house team (we’ll get into these next) for small businesses. Agencies that work really hard to integrate with their clients, ensure they have the internal systems in place to support marketing, give clients control over their marketing strategies, and offer ultra-responsive communication can deliver the advantages of an in-house team without the burdens associated with full-time employees. 

In addition to providing outsourced marketing services, we partner with our clients to serve as their fractional CMO. In practice, that means we’re part of your leadership team, taking a deep dive to understand the business and goals. We align our interests through various pricing packages and service levels that meet our clients’ needs while also providing the benefit of fixed costs. Packaging our services this way also gives us the flexibility to adapt the strategy and deliverables when needed, generally without clients having to pay extra. Our two highest-level packages give clients priority access to our team, so we’re available when they need us.

The added benefits of using a marketing agency instead of hiring an in-house team

For small businesses, working with a marketing agency vs an in-house marketing team gives them access to talent and creativity that may otherwise be unreachable. The benefits include:

  • Expertise: Gain access to a team of experts with proven track records in multiple areas of marketing. You’ll be working with a team of specialists that functions well together—without the prohibitive expense of having to hire each one.
  • Flexibility and scalability: Compared with an in-house team, an agency can adapt quickly to your changing marketing needs and adjust services accordingly.
  • Cost-effective: According to a Deloitte study, the primary reason why companies outsource is to reduce operating costs, including hiring and onboarding costs.
  • Up to date: Agencies have greater scope and are often more familiar with the latest trends and strategies.
  • Improved efficiency: Because we’ve built tested processes for all of our services, agencies have experience working on various projects and can complete work more quickly and efficiently.
  • Access to cutting-edge technology: An agency is likely to have access to the latest technology and tools, which can help small businesses stay ahead of the competition.
  • Fresh perspective: Breadth of experience allows agencies to see things from a different point of view.
  • Focus: Employees in small businesses are used to wearing many hats. If your marketing person is also your AP/AR department, office manager, project manager, sales representative, event planner, etc., he or she will have many competing priorities. In these situations, it’s very common for marketing efforts to suffer as the fires of the day take precedence.

If you’re still thinking of hiring an in-house marketing team, bear these points in mind

  • Cost: Hiring and maintaining an in-house team can be expensive, including costs associated with salaries, benefits, training, office space, and turnover.
  • Limited skills: Your in-house team may have limited skills, expertise, and experience compared to a marketing agency with a diverse team of specialists—particularly if you’re unable to afford the median salary for a given role in your area.
  • Workload: An in-house team may be overwhelmed with their workload, especially during peak seasons or when launching a new campaign, which can affect productivity and creativity. Conversely, in-house resources can also end up being underutilized during quieter times.
  • Acquisition costs of marketing tools: Individual subscriptions to various tools can add up.

All of that said, you can benefit from working with both. If budget and resources allow, you can supplement the skills of your in-house team with specialist agency skills using a hybrid model. The in-house and outsourced teams collaborate to fulfill your marketing strategy.

Marketing agency vs in-house marketing team: which one is best for your small business?

Although we believe that choosing the right agency is generally the better choice, we also know that every small business is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Whether you choose to use an in-house or outsourced marketing team will depend on various factors, such as your business goals, budget, and resources. It all comes down to finding the right fit for your business—all marketing agencies are not created equally. Consider these factors:

  • Assess your marketing needs: Identify your marketing goals and the services you require. If you need a full suite of marketing services or specific skills or services that are not available in-house, a marketing agency may be the best choice.
  • Evaluate your budget: If you have a limited budget, outsourcing to a marketing agency may be a more cost-effective option.
  • Consider your timeline: If you need to launch a marketing campaign quickly, outsourcing to a marketing agency may help you get to market faster than you can build a team.
  • Look for cultural fit: To maintain consistency in branding, communication, and messaging, look for a marketing agency that reflects your culture and values.

You may also be interested in: How to choose a digital marketing agency for your small business

If you feel that an agency like ours would be the right fit to get your marketing moving, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch to schedule a free consultation

Starting from scratch? Check out our Digital Marketing Starter Package.


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