There is only one way to answer this question, and that’s every marketers favourite word: Depends.
It truly does though. For some businesses or projects, and in-house team is a far better option than hiring in an agency. In fact, if you can get your hiring right, in-house is more often than not going to provide better value for money than the vast majority of agencies can.
However, you could also say that hiring in-house comes with more risks than hiring an agency does. So what are the pros and cons of hiring a digital marketing agency, VS hiring staff, or using your current staff to run your campaigns?
- Agencies aren’t as in tune with your brand and tone than you and your team will be, so it’s important you select an agency that’s either a specialist in your area, has a track record in your area, or has the ability to adopt to different sectors seamlessly.
- You don’t have 100% control over an agency. In fairness, that could be both a good thing and a bad thing!
- No skin in the game. Regardless of rhetoric, it’s very hard to find an agency that will care for your success or your outcomes as much as you and your team will.
- Being number 1 priority. Good agencies will always have other clients, but it’s exceptionally rare for your staff to have other jobs!
- They aren’t at your full disposal in most cases. Weekly calls, emails, etc. It isn’t the same as having someone in the office, or that you can call anytime. With that said, it does make for more structured, strategic, and focussed actions (with the right agency).
(this is all in the assumption that you pick the right agency)
- You get access to a diverse team with multiple skillsets. That’s what an agency is all about, you’re paying for access to talent, and for someone else to take responsibility. For the cost of 1-3 premium staff, you’re getting access to senior staff at the agency with years of experience, graphic designers, web developers, SEO experts, copywriters, and various other specialists. It can be a big shortcut. Hiring someone that’s an expert in Google ads, Facebook ads, AND Tiktok ads could be immensely challenging.
- If you get wrong and pick the “wrong” agency, it could prove to be a costly mistake. BUT you can at least usually change agencies in a 1 month timeframe. It’s not that quick and easy to replace staff. Bad hires can be far more “expensive” than the wrong agency, and take longer to recover from.
- Agencies tend to have better lines of communications with ad platforms given the sums of ad spend that they manage, this level of access can be highly valuable.
- Agencies also tend to be more in tune with current best practises and trends, given their level of involvement in various sectors and ad platforms.
- A generous and friendly agency will wine and dine you (or take you for a day at Newmarket races in our case), and never ask for an expensive Xmas party 😉
So what’s the right option for you? I’ll try to provide a proper answer.
I think long-term, if you can build the right team, it really pays to be able to build an in-house team so that you aren’t reliant on agencies. However, this is a big challenge, and one that will likely need to be supplemented by agency support along the way.
For most businesses, a talented, honest, and value for money agency is going to be the best way to go for support in areas like paid media and SEO, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a view to building your own in-house team for the long-term!