Chapter 37: Should I Hire an Agency or a Marketer?
It’s the great debate in hiring a marketer for your business. Once you’ve decided you can’t do it with the people already on your team, you have three choices:
- Hire an individual to join your company and be your marketer
- Hire a B2C or B2B marketing agency to provide services for your company
- Do neither and fail as a business
We obviously don’t want to do number three. Unfortunately, the right choice between the two remaining options is far less obvious. We can’t tell you definitely which is the better pick for your business, but we can give you all the information you need to make an informed decision on your own.
Let’s run the numbers. An in-house marketer has a national average base salary of $70,000, with benefits valued at $17,500. Add the costs of training, and you get a cost of just under $90,000 per year. Other costs also accrue, such as the extra time your bookkeeper spends on salary for that individual, and the risk that you might need to hire and train a replacement.
The national average cost to hire a marketing agency is $3,000 to $6,000 per month depending on the size of the service, where the company is based, what and what kind of software subscriptions they require, and how expert their top players are. Multiply by 12 and you’re looking at $36,000 to $72,000 per year for the service.
This breakdown isn’t meant to replace your own research — region and industry can make a big difference between your real numbers and the averages we listed here. This instead illustrates how you might approach organizing and structuring the numbers for your own research.
If you’re big into control (and let’s face it, most successful entrepreneurs and business managers are at least a little), then you’re going to prefer hiring an internal marketing person when it’s time to go big. The day-to-day contact, the nature of an employee-employer relationship, and keeping everything in-house simply make control easier to achieve.
A good agency runs the show for you. They assign out tasks to their team and yours, set agendas, thinks outside the box, and manage the project so you don’t have too. The main benefit of hiring a marketing agency is that it is truly a thing you shouldn’t have to worry about. As a general rule, going to an outside agency means sacrificing some of your control over your marketing programs.
As you might have seen from the breakdown of expenses for an agent vs. an in-house marketer, the level of complexity is higher with an employee. You have legal factors, training, scheduling and personal factors related to the employee, then implementation responsibilities when she applies her knowledge.
With an agency, the complexity is all their problem. Your job is to look at the options they recommend and make an informed decision. All other aspects of your marketing get handled by them.
Complexity is often seen as the flip side of the control coil. You can have lots of both, or lots of neither. Having high control requires high complexity, and low control comes with a reduced complexity.
Passion is the place where an in-house hire unequivocally outperforms a marketing agency. The most passionate and engaged person about your business is you. The second most passionate and engaged people about your business are your team members — the people whose paycheck depends on your business success, and who see your energy and excitement on a daily basis.
A marketing agency is full of people who are passionate about marketing and deeply engaged in the processes and practices of what they do. But they won’t have your business as deeply under their skin as somebody in your house. It doesn’t mean they can’t do a great job, but it is a reality that impacts your decision.
One of the best aspects of onboarding a new marketer is that they will become an expert in your industry. They come to the table knowing marketing and spend several weeks specializing in marketing what you sell. Assuming the hire is successful and the fit is good, this person will become literally the world’s leading expert in marketing for your company.
When working with an agency, you have the opportunity to work with senior-level marketing professionals. Although they might not be an expert in your industry yet, they know the marketing world. They can show you new techniques that have helped former clients that you may have never even thought of. An agency can provide you will the latest technology and tools that are new to you, but will also have the help of an entire agency if they need a second pair of eyes on anything. However, there might be a slower process time if your agency is waiting for your approval. Nuanced Media is a premier Phoenix marketing agency, and our experts are always willing to answer your questions about hiring a marketer or marketing agency.