Marketing: Agency or Employee?

Harry Simpson

Agency Or In House

​Marketing is a funny one, in terms of a ‘business function’. It’s largely regarded as one the easiest to outsource (being beaten only by accounting as the first to go, for those interested) and yet as a small business, starting to grow that function in-house from the beginning can be absolutely key to developing your brand, core values and company culture.

I spend a lot of time strategising with my clients (particularly the smaller-but-growing businesses) about their marketing teams – rather, their marketing goals. Because, sometimes, it doesn’t necessarily warrant a new hire.

I know, I know – a recruiter telling you that you don’t need to hire someone. Thing is, I consider myself a consultant first and foremost; ultimately, if hiring a new employee or employees into your in-house marketing team isn’t what’s going to help your business achieve its goals this time, I’ll be the first to tell you.

Marketing is about planning, strategy and execution. You need to make a solid plan, strategise as to how you’re going to execute said plan, and then execute said plan.

Simple, no?

Here’s where the big question comes in:

Do you need to hire a marketing executive, or a marketing agency? Here are the things to consider if you’re a small business and marketing is the talk of the hour:

What’s your capacity for commitment?

By this I mean time, effort and dedication to actually seeing your marketing goals as a business come to fruition. That’s not to say one requires less than the other – but the challenges you face as a business leader, when hiring either a new employee in your marketing division or choosing to engage with a marketing agency, differ greatly.

Consider the time you have to dedicate to the actual recruitment process: working with your senior management team to devise and agree on the right profile. Sourcing that person (including potentially outsourcing to a recruitment partner like us – the irony isn’t lost on me). A lengthy interview process, followed by onboarding, ongoing training, and so on and so forth… You need to take the initiative as a leader, be honest about what you have to offer a new employee and decide if it’s the right time to bring in new talent.

As for hiring a marketing agency? Be ready to jump in feet-first; for them to fulfil your vision, there’s going to be meetings, constant communication and blood, sweat and tears spent to make sure everyone is on the same page. Giving your chosen agency all the tools for success is crucial to them fulfilling your goals so, although you won’t be doing the work yourself/in-house, that’s not to say you won’t be involved every step of the way.

For both options, it’s a process of making sure you find the right person/company to support your own. Choosing the right marketing agency isn’t one-size-fits-all, just the same as hiring the right candidate can present a challenge.

Costs – immediate and future

There’s no way to dress it up or down – the cost (and resulting benefits, mind you) of both of these options are not insignificant, so pick your poison.

Employing the services of a marketing agency can be pricey, but you know what you’re paying for; along the way, you’ll be able to determine the value of the services you’ve received and will be able to ensure that the project is entirely complete before parting with full payment.

Employing a full-time employee bears its own costs, and its own risks equally; hiring goes far beyond the salary. When you’re working out costs, consider everything from training and equipment to workspace and resources. Whilst the investment is all being made to one of your own and you’ll reap long-term benefits as such, you need to have a realistic idea of what it’s going to cost full term.

Do you need one specialised skill or a gathering of creative minds?

Is this a one-time project, a business transformation period, a rebrand? What are your true objectives?

When you engage with a marketing agency, you’re engaging with a veritable goldmine of different backgrounds, thought processes, ideas and expertise – perfect if you’re looking for some guidance, or to essentially hand the reins to a group of experts to complete such and such project: here’s what we want, here’s the deadline, let’s get it going. If this is going to be a case of ‘the more brains the better’, employing a marketing agency is going to be the obvious choice.

But, if you know exactly what needs to be achieved and the specialised skills necessary to get there, finding the right talent to bring onboard to your business and do so is going to be a lot easier. This way, you get what you need now but have also added an asset to your business – and especially for small businesses, each and every asset counts.

There are, of course, many other pros and cons to each of these roads. The truth is, marketing is an absolute wonderland made up of amazing people with amazing minds – but, it can be a minefield. The consequences when marketing isn’t done right can be dire; so, if you need advice or guidance across the board and at any level, we’re here to help.

Certus Recruitment Group specialises in graduate to executive level recruitment across all industries; my team within that are specialised marketing consultants who live and breathe what they do. Get in touch with our London team.