Marketing Firm vs. In-House – 5 Questions to Ask

In blog, Communication, Compass, Featured News, marketing, public relations by getpushing

By: Samantha Scott, APR

Should we hire a marketing firm or a staff person? It’s a question many business owners face and the answer is different depending on your goals, needs and budget, but there are also commonalities as well. Maybe you’re handling the marketing now and you aren’t able to anymore. Maybe you have a staff person doing marketing, but it’s not their full time job. Or, perhaps it is, but your business is growing and has exceeded their individual capacity.

Before you decide, I’d like to make the case that a marketing firm is often the better choice. Here are some key points to consider in your decision making process.

Are You Stuck in the DIY Model?

Let’s start with YOU. If you’re an entrepreneur you’re probably wear many hats… not necessarily because you want to (more sleep and free time would be nice!), but because that’s what it takes to operate a business sometimes, especially in the beginning. I’ve been there. So, as we dive into deciding between a firm or in-house personnel, I would challenge you to ask yourself two things:

  • Is this the HIGHEST and BEST USE OF MY TIME?
  • Do I have the CAPACITY FOR GROWTH within this model?

You might consider similar questions for any existing staff you have working on marketing. Often we work with small to mid-sized businesses who have an office manager, receptionist or or staff pulling double duty to work on marketing as well. Is that the best way for them to work, be successful and return results for your business?

How Can You Get the Most Bang for Your Buck?

Generally established small to mid-sized companies get more bang for their buck by working with a firm – high-caliber skill sets and multiple people with the ability to move multiple initiatives forward simultaneously for a fraction of what an in-house employee would cost with similar skill sets.

A common recommendation is that a company with 50-100 employees is large enough to warrant an in-house marketing staffer or department. Even then, however, some of those larger companies seek outside assistance from a firm to help supplement certain areas or to help develop new ideas. If your business isn’t that large, can you really afford a staff person or would you get more return by partnering with a firm?

Do You Have Time to Train and Manage a New Employee?

The alternative, in most cases, to hiring a firm is hiring an entry-level staff person and saving a few dollars at the beginning, but losing in the end. Time and again we’ve heard of business leaders choosing to hire a recent graduate with little to no experience to manage their marketing. They think it will be better because they can hire them for a low salary and essentially have that person available for their every whim, but that’s often where the perks end.

Unless you have plenty of time and resources to train that individual, they aren’t going to meet your standards or expectations on return. If you compromise on skill sets, you’re setting yourself up to fail and will end up adding work for yourself in managing them. Recent graduates or individuals with little to no experience will require a lot of guidance, support in strategy development and will likely not have the ability to develop the ROI most business owners want when they invest in marketing. Do you want more work or do you want help?

If you’re considering hiring a more experienced employee, the scenario would be different. They would have more autonomy and ability to manage their work, results, etc. They won’t require as much of your time. However, they will cost more (generally more than a firm doing similar services), require HR and administrative support, and they won’t be able to provide full-service execution independently. There isn’t a human being on earth that can be excellent at all areas of marketing communication so they will either need help (staff/firm) or additional services/tools (programs, software, etc.).

Will You/Your Employee Be Able to Track the ROI?

You or your employee are going to networking events, you had a flyer created for your special offer this month, your company is using social media and you try to keep your website update to date… but to what end? Are those efforts generating traffic, awareness, leads, and ultimately sales?

It can be challenging for in-house staff to measure results in a quantifiable way. With a firm you get the benefit of advanced analytics, tracking and performance monitoring that can confirm if the work being done (and money being spent) is returning value.

Can You Afford What You NEED with In-House Staff?

A marketing director, social media strategist, public relations expert, web developer, graphic designer… it’s a long list of people and/or expertise that’s required to successfully develop and implement a marketing communication strategy. It’s simply not possible to find one person who embodies all of those skills and can do them at an expert level.

When you work with a marketing communication firm like PTE, however, you get the benefit of all of those for the cost of roughly one mid-level employee. As an added bonus, you can save the HR time and additional overhead expenses of having an employee. With PTE you have one point of contact, your ally, who serves as your virtual marketing director, and a team working to deliver the results you’re looking for so you can focus on your business – not the marketing of it.

A couple of key points in closing…

  • Please know, we work with many recent grads either as employees or interns. We believe strongly in supporting the next generation of communication professionals, but we also have the means and systems to support them in their growth.
  • I believe internal marketing communication staff can be very valuable and appropriate. I am friends with and have many colleagues in those roles, but it’s not right for everyone or every business. And, sometimes hybrid models work better (part in-house, part marketing firm). There’s a right fit for every business, I just encourage careful consideration.

Marketing communication is critical for every business or organization. If you think you might need help or if you have questions about how to decide, please contact us.