Should You Hire In-House vs. Agency for Marketing?

In-House versus Agency for Marketing?

Scaling your marketing efforts successfully is tough to do as a one-person band. If you’re on the fence about how to accomplish your marketing goals, the crossroads between hiring an in-house team vs. agency partner is likely weighing on your mind.

After all, decisions like these shouldn’t be made lightly or without detailed consideration of all your options. You need the perfect mixture of creative talent, technological savvy, and in-depth business knowledge – all for a cost that fits snugly inside your budget.

As a creative agency working with a wide array of clients, we’ve encountered plenty of folks in the position you’re in now. Although every business is a bit different, one common practice is to consider the costs and benefits throughout the decision-making process.

In-house Vs. Agency Marketing Teams [a Cost/Benefit Analysis]

It can be difficult to assess whether the benefits of hiring an agency, in-house team, or combination of the two will outweigh the cost. The truth is, management styles and desired skill sets can greatly vary from one company to another.

The best place to start, however, is to examine a few of the major costs associated with your decision to break down the benefits of bringing your marketing in-house vs. partnering with an agency.


Recruiting, interviews, and benefits packages. Request for proposals (RFPs), rate negotiations, and strategy sessions. These are all necessary activities that take a significant toll on your time, mental energy, and marketing budget.

According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, the average cost for businesses to add a new employee is $4,129 with an average of 42 days’ time to accomplish this.

…and that’s just to get an employee in the door. You still have to onboard, train, and pay them a salary.

On the flip side, hiring an agency will also cost you some money, although…you were probably already planning on spending it.

Providing a ballpark cost at this stage is tough because it’s really just dependent on your business’s own unique needs and the budget you’ve allocated toward marketing.

To avoid offering up an inaccurate number, we’ll stick with the generally accepted standard for marketing budgets, which is roughly 20 percent of your sales revenue.

If that sounds a bit rich for your taste, that’s okay! It’s better to be comfortable with your marketing spend than for your head to explode.

We did, however, wrangle up a handy “In-House vs. Agency Calculator” to help you determine a more exact cost for the hiring process.

In-House Benefits:

  • You can personally choose the members of your team
  • Internal dedication & cultural “buy-in” from employees

Agency Benefits:

  • More cost-effective with less upfront investment
  • Very little on-boarding required
  • Creative ideas are provided upfront (upon signing)


Want the latest and greatest marketing automation technologies, creative design tools, or to stay up-to-date on industry trends? Well…these all cost a pretty penny.

In order to gain access to the best technology and tools available for your team’s internal use, you’ll have to plan for them.

This isn’t a “one and done” cost, either. As new, updated, or upgraded technology becomes available, you may need to renew subscriptions, add users, or pay for additional features – making regular audits of your marketing tools is a must.

One primary bonus of working with a creative agency, however, is that they absorb the cost of these tools. This allows you to keep a nice, low overhead for your marketing campaigns and helps produce a greater return on your investment. Who doesn’t love a great ROI?

In-House Benefits:

  • Tools/software are at your fingertips
  • Functionality is vetted internally

Agency Benefits:

  • Overhead costs are eliminated
  • Wider range of options for greater variety of functions
  • No internal training necessary


It’s down to the nitty gritty. You need help creating a cohesive marketing strategy that appeals to your customers and positions your company as the solution to a problem. You also need it fast!

With the help of your newly hired and fully equipped in-house marketing team, you’ll need some time to brainstorm ideas, choose the best, and put the plan in motion. Your team can swiftly execute because of your high degree of institutional knowledge.

But what if upon brainstorming ideas, you recognize a need for additional expertise? Do you simply avoid doing something your customers will love because you don’t have the skills in-house?

You could…but you could also find additional support from an outside marketing agency to help fill in your team’s knowledge gaps.

A great advantage of utilizing a marketing agency is that you’re given access to a skilled, versatile team of professionals with an “outsider’s” perspective. This is often the difference between a good idea and a really, really GREAT idea because it’s been looked at from all angles.

When it comes time to execute your integrated marketing plan, the benefit of another set of creative eyes to ensure the quality of your campaigns should not be understated. Those are marketing dollars well-spent.

In-House Benefits:

  • Greater product/service knowledge
  • Employees are internally accountable
  • Quicker response times

Agency Benefits:

  • Valuable “fresh” creative perspective
  • Greater skillset diversity for a single cost
  • Less management time required for more resources

In-house Vs. Agency: Which Is Right for Your Marketing?

So…which will it be: an in-house marketing team, creative agency partner, or a mixture of the two? The decision is ultimately yours for the making, but we hope our insight will make things a bit less burdensome.

Our shameless plug: Signalfire is an award-winning creative agency with proven track record of fueling business growth with exceptional website design & development, logo design, brand strategy, and content marketing campaigns.

To learn more about our process and how we can help support your marketing team – signal for help today!