Does it make sense to hire a full-time team member or outsource your marketing to a qualified agency? In this blog, we explore the pros and cons of each and identify some key questions that might impact your decision.
One of the questions we often hear from past and prospective clients: should I hire someone to direct our marketing full-time, or should we work with an agency?
This is a logical question, as the cost of marketing services is sometimes more than the cost of hiring a qualified and capable team member. Does it make sense to continue investing in an outside partner, or should the role be brought in house? Is there potentially a mix of the two: a part-time or full-time staff member who is supported by an agency?
There is no magic answer. You’re probably thinking,“Well of course they are going to say ‘’hire the agency’!” But in reality, there are plenty of situations in which hiring an agency may not be right for you, and ultimately, we want to be good stewards of your funds. In this article, I’ll share “Seven Cs” to consider when debating hiring a team member or an agency.
How much money do I have for marketing? How much can I potentially save by hiring someone full-time rather than working with an agency?
Remember, you get what you pay for. You can hire a recent college graduate or someone with limited experience to manage your company’s marketing efforts for $40,000-50,000. When you add in benefits, this could potentially reach $48,000-60,000. More experienced marketers can require six-digit salaries. The key question is this: will one individual have every skill set you may need, or will there still be specialized services that will require an agency to execute?
Unfortunately, replacing an agency with an individual is not an easy ‘apples-to-apples’ swap. It may cost more in the long-run, especially if you end up hiring both an individual and an agency for specialty support.To help our clients consider their own best interests and budget, we begin by asking this question, even if it means they end up not working with us.
What skill sets do you need for your marketing efforts? What experience and capabilities will this individual need? Can they be strategic, tactical, and task-oriented?
Finding someone who can do it all and easily toggle between thinking on these levels is like hunting for the mythical unicorn. I know they exist; I’ve seen them (not unicorns, the multi-talented marketer). When you hire a new team member, you gain that individual’s skills, experience, attention to quality, strategic thinking abilities, measurement know-how, and awareness of trends and platforms. When you hire an agency, you have access to a wider variety of specialized expertise and capabilities you can tap into when you need it (based on the specific project, effort, or need).
If you are only looking for someone to manage your social media accounts (posting and creating content, community management, reporting results, etc.), then hiring someone with those specialties and experience might be a better financial decision than hiring an agency.
How much work will this person be doing? Will it be an ‘additional’ requirement for a different job role, or will they be solely focused on marketing? Will they have the time to keep up on trends and technology/platform updates?
We all want work-life balance, but it’s also important to ensure that the individual responsible for your marketing can manage the day-to-day activities and additional pop-up requests that inevitably occur. We always suggest that a comprehensive marketing plan should be managed by someone who can dedicate the appropriate time and effort (i.e., allow this to be the individual’s full-time focus).
However, even with a full-time team member, there may be times when your wish-list is larger than the individual’s capacity; similar to a lengthy wish list for an agency partner who is still expected to stay within your budget. There are only so many hours in the day.
Are there going to be peaks and valleys in this person’s workload or a consistent stream that will keep them busy throughout the year? If peaks hit, will he/she have the capacity to handle the peaks, or do you need a back-up plan? Who covers for him/her during vacation?What will you do if/when this individual leaves?
The unexpected happens. You want to make sure your marketing efforts aren’t impacted when it does. Unless you have a full marketing bench with built-in backups, it’s good to maintain positive relationships with agency partners—even after you have concluded a project or contract. Keep them on your holiday card list or grab a coffee every now and then. You never know when you will need them and you simply don’t have the staff available to strategize, plan, execute, and measure it.
Do you need to have direct involvement and oversight of the individual? Will this individual push back or bring new ideas that may be contrary to yours?
Accountability is an interesting thing. Sometimes you might be more lenient with an employee (or not hold them to the same level of expectation as you would an agency) because you don’t want to upset them or potentially lose them. As an agency, we receive feedback all the time… not always positive, and not always uplifting or reaffirming. But that’s part of working in an agency setting: the feedback is not about you—it’s about the work, the client’s feedback, and the ultimate impact it will make.
As an agency, we will push back, ask questions, and appropriately challenge our clients’ decisions or plans if we believe they may negatively impact their marketing goals or intended results. If you are simply looking for someone to action your requests and not question or push back, hiring an agency might not be the right decision for you.
Can someone only understand your culture if they work there full-time?
There’s a misconception that only a full-time staff member can truly appreciate and understand the culture your company promotes. Consider the work-from-home employee who connects with colleagues regularly, but isn’t there to experience the day-to-day corporate culture and inter-team camaraderie.
As someone who worked from home for five years, I can share that I still felt connected to the company and understood what the company stood for, even though I didn’t work in the office. While I missed out on baby showers, team builders, and funny discussions among teammates, I was just as committed to the company.
Similarly, I felt very connected to the values, focuses, and philosophies of my clients, even though I wasn’t employed by them directly. What made the difference was the client taking the time to onboard me. They shared the company background, key corporate focuses, and provided me with access to important information and people. I had an equal seat at the table as a vendor, and I was considered an extension of the team.
If you can provide as much access and inclusion to a vendor as a staff member, an agency might be able to support your needs.
Will your new team member bring creativity to your marketing efforts?
Your new hire may have a visually creative eye, know how to use design and video software, and be an amazing web programmer. He or she may also be able to craft customized content for your social channels and design dynamic visuals to reach your target audiences. Already have a brand guide? Perhaps you just need someone to action it.
Can the individual work creatively in a variety of formats and channels, while still staying within an established strategy, delivering on-time, and staying under budget? If they have all of these qualities, hire them quickly before we do!It’s a big decision: do you want to bring on another staff member, partner with an agency, or find a way to do both? You need to determine:
- What’s important to you
- What your company needs
- Where you can and can’t sacrifice
- And if you can find a single individual (the unicorn) who can handle those important efforts
Thinking an agency may be the right fit? Still unsure?
Reach out and let’s talk about your business, your needs, and if an agency like Meld Marketing might be the right choice to support your marketing.