Want Greater ROI? Decide Between Hiring a Marketing Agency and an Employee

Ah….yes. To hire an internal marketing employee or not to hire an internal marketing employee. That truly is the question that plagues the minds of business owners and managers everywhere.

A survey by Contently and Adweek of more than 476 marketers found 76% of marketers believe they could increase ROI by two to five times with an expert team producing high-quality content. But who makes up your expert team? Is it internal or an outside agency?

To be totally honest, there are pros and cons to both. Let’s tackle the marketing employee first.

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Hiring a Marketing Employee

The Decision
Business owners look to hire an internal marketing employee when they reach a ceiling of frustration with their current marketing efforts. They are feeling:
  • The marketing hat has been worn by too many non-qualified employees within their organization without any real value being produced
  • Their current outside agency they’re working with is too costly
  • The agency hasn’t provided them with the desired ROI
Your organization has specific needs. You need a new website, some graphic design, or maybe a social media campaign. Considering the pain points felt above, you decide to hire someone as your “marketing person.”

The next step is to look for someone who has those specific skills and bring them onto your team.

The Benefits
Hiring an internal marketing person can be ideal for your situation. Benefits include:

Immediate communication and status reports
You can literally ask Marketing Maggie “what’s up with that Facebook campaign” on your way to the water cooler.

Brand and service knowledge
Marketing Maggie knows the innerworkings of your organization and can therefore create messaging that best represents your brand, products, services, and more importantly, your goals.

Access to the experts
Marketing Maggie has access to the experts within your organization. This allows her to produce the most authoritative content, especially if you’re in a niche market.

The Drawbacks
Before you head off to LinkedIn and post the job offering, there are a few drawbacks to consider.

Limited experience
Yes, you may have hired someone initially to do social media marketing, but this experience may not translate into other areas of marketing such as websites, digital placement, traditional advertising, etc.

Employees are expensive
Your company may have gawked at a $20,000 marketing campaign quoted by an agency, but with a new hire, you’re now paying a salary and other benefits. Tensions run high when business owners try to justify the new marketing employee’s $40,000 salary and benefits package and comparing it against the ROI.

Limited perspective
An agency works with many companies of varying industries and can use this experience to best shape a campaign. Your employee is tightly wrapped up within your business and may not get a worldly view of the changes and advances in the industry.

Now the marketing agency….

Hiring a Marketing Agency

The Decision
Business owners look to hire an outside marketing agency when they feel their internal marketing team is:
  • Not qualified to handle all of the marketing needs
  • Not providing the ROI to justify his or her salary
  • Unable to handle the necessary workload on top of his or her current responsibilities
Your organization may not know what types of marketing will best serve your needs. You want education, or you want to be at the head of the curve with regards to your marketing efforts. So you meet with and find an agency you hope will guide and educate you on today’s best practices and strategies.

The Benefits
Hiring an outside marketing agency can provide the following:

Comprehensive experience and skills
Agencies may be proficient in a certain marketing methodology, or they have a more holistic approach that encompasses a wide variety of tactics. Either way, they will have a proven track record and case studies to back up their expertise.

Professional solutions
Issues are fixed more efficiently because agencies are professionals in their field. They have the collective wisdom of a larger team and have faced a diverse group of challenges and scenarios.

Control over the cost
When you contract a project with an agency, you can mark this more easily into your budget. With employees, you have to consider other costs including raises, benefits, paid time off, etc.

The Drawbacks
Before signing a contract, there are some drawbacks to hiring an agency:

Less communication
You can’t walk up to the agency and ask how things are going. Meetings have to be set, calls scheduled, and emails waited on. You lose the immediate response and reporting.

Loss of strategy control
When you plan a wedding, it’s hard to let the florists determine the best bouquet, but they are the experts in their field. When working with an agency, they may fight you on strategy and messaging because that is their job. You’re paying for professional advice and therefore relinquish some control.

It can be costly
Agencies can charge quite a bit for their services due to the work and time required by a team effort versus one internal employee.

How do you choose?

Choosing between hiring a marketing agency vs an internal marketing team comes down to ROI. Specifically, what are your goals and needs?

Here’s an example:


Goal: Generate at least $50,000 in new business in the next 3 months

How: No idea, just want the new business. We have some budget to spend.

Think about the pros and cons that were discussed above. Would hiring a $40,000 salaried new employee who will need training on your business be able to generate $50,000 in new business without a specific how-to in mind? Not likely. But an experienced agency may be able to turnaround a strategy and recommendations based on their previous experiences and successes.

So you would go with an agency.

How about this one?


Goal: Need a better website. It looks stale and outdated

How: Need a web designer, maybe some new content, but can’t spend too much this quarter.

Your ROI is not going to be tracked by a specific dollar amount. Instead you’re looking for a brand refresh. You require specific skills and can’t afford to throw down a ton of dough. This sounds perfect for an internal marketing person. You can find someone with web development skills and maybe some content writing experience. By hiring internally, you’ll have someone you can communicate with throughout the process and get the website up fairly quickly. Word of caution: don’t jump straight to a salaried employee. Can this individual be contracted out?

So you would go with an internal hire.

Before you make this big decision, you must consider your ROI. How do you gauge what your best return on your investment is? It all starts with specific company goals. Once you figure out your company goals, you can determine the metrics of success that will give you the best return on your investment.

Don’t know what your goals are or how they fit into an overall marketing strategy? Check out our FREE 11 Questions to Ask When Creating a Marketing Plan.



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