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Should I Hire an Agency or Employee for my Marketing?

Should you hire an employee or a marketing firm?

There comes a point with developing your business where you will probably need some help in either designing or implementing your small business’s marketing strategy. Though entrepreneurs and small business owners often wear all the different hats in their company, including being the marketing director, some may want to consider other options to lighten their workload and also get the best results possible.

Asking for help isn’t a sign that you are a weak or incapable business owner. In fact, it means the opposite. It means you know your strengths, and you know what your time is best focused on! Keeping a strong hold on every aspect of a business can often be a fault, and delegating and building a great team will help a company with long-term success.

So, when it comes time to getting that help, should you be hiring an employee for your company, or using a firm? The answer will differ depending on your unique needs as a business and business owner.

Hiring an employee

Hiring an employee could be a great idea for many businesses. Having someone who is solely dedicated to your business can be very beneficial. It’s not always about the size of your business, but rather your marketing strategy needs.

A big benefit would be having in-office communication, as well as someone who really understands your products or services, and company. Training will still most likely be required, even with an employee who has lots of experience.

An in-house marketing creative might now always have all the expertise needed to create the most unique and specialized strategy and content for your business. Another downside is the costs associated with hiring an employee, as well as payroll and HR costs. Your company has to guarantee hours to some extent, and if you have slow seasons, you may be paying money for someone to be sitting idly by. This is also another team member for your managers to be responsible for. If no one in your business has experience in managing a marketing role, this may cause issues.

Over time, your in-house marketing employee may develop a limited perspective. This is just how we tend to be as humans! Unless you are really investing in furthering their education and experience, they may be always looking at your marketing with the same lens. Marketing strategies are ever changing, and you need to make sure your company doesn’t get stuck with it’s vision, or lose focus of ever changing marketing trends and best practices.

If an employee leaves either for maternity leave, to move on to another opportunity, because they moved, or maybe they just didn’t enjoy the job, you may have a blip in your marketing messaging that could be noticed by your audience. This would result in having to re-hire and train a new employee, and those added stresses and HR costs. When all the information is stored in a single person’s head, this can also be detrimental to a company. A marketing firm would have a team who knows your company and marketing strategy well, and as team members come and go, you’ll only gain fresh insights, not lose your message consistency.

If you find that perfect fit who has experience in your industry, shares your brand’s values and mission, has the expertise required for your business’s unique marketing strategy and needs, and fits within your budget, then you should definitely go for it!

Hiring a firm

Hiring a firm may seem like it is out of reach to many small businesses. It’s not! There are firms of all shapes and sizes, and probably one out there that is the perfect fit for your small business - even if you’re just a small boutique store with a team of only you!

One of the great benefits of hiring a firm is the ability to tailor services to your businesses specific needs, as well as give you a fresh set of eyes on your business and marketing. If search engine marketing or pay-per-click isn’t the right strategy for your business, but social media marketing is where you’re going to see the most conversions, they will know and be able to focus their services on what’s right for your business. Some firms even specialize in specific industries or types of marketing, so you could find one that is just right for your company!

In tailoring their services to your needs, a firm can work on a contract or per-project basis. Just need an updated marketing strategy for you to follow? Looking for someone to consult on building the best website possible? Need ongoing support to maintain your website or social media? The right firm for you will be able to do all or one of these things, as you need it, on-demand. This can reduce costs greatly over time, as you are only paying for what you need when you need it.

Some firms may also work on monthly retainers for services. This is to ensure there are hours set aside dedicated to your business when you need them. Outside of project or contract based work, this is the best way to go to make sure you are getting the solutions you want, the moment you need them.

A downside to a firm may be that they are working on many projects and with many clients all at once. They may not be as solely focused on your business as an in-house employee. However, with the right fit, you’ll find a firm that truly cares about you and your business and is working hard to make sure you succeed!

In hiring a firm, you also are getting access to a team of experts at the moments when you need them, vs just one person in-house. A marketing employee may be perfect and know how to do everything you need, but chances are a marketing firm will know more. An employee may know how to run great Facebook ads, but do they know how to build up your email list? Do they also know how to design and develop a great website with a flawless user experience for those Facebook Ads to lead your audience to? A firm will. They will have the freshest ideas, with a different perspective than someone working in-house at your company.

The access you get to a firm’s resources is another pro to hiring outside help. They will be on top of the latest marketing technology, trends and insights, and how to implement them for your business. A good marketing firm is always investing into R&D for their services, including being a part of professional networks, accessing and understanding the latest tools and technology, attending conferences and trade shows, and performing their own industry research.

Depending on your needs, a firm will only cost you $500/month to $25,000 per year. An in-house employee could be $40,000-60,000 per year. Thinking long term, you might save money in working with a firm.

Hiring both!

Why not! Every small business’s needs are different. You may want to hire an employee to run the day-to-day execution of your marketing, like a social media manager, or digital marketing manager, and then a firm who is responsible for consulting on your overall marketing strategy.

Some firms focus more on strategy than execution. If it’s in your budget, you would then just need to hire someone who does the actual execution of the strategy (posting to social media, writing marketing emails, writing blog posts, maybe even taking photos or designing content, etc). This could even then be a part-time role, reducing your costs. The firm may only be needed for a monthly consultation and not every day, again potentially reducing your costs.

This is a great option that blends the pros of both hiring a firm and hiring an employee. You get the outside perspective, access to resources and expertise of a firm, on top of the on-demand, in-office and dedicated in-house employee! A firm could communicate directly with your employee, freeing you up even more time. An employee could learn a lot from the firm as well, and with the right people in place your team could thrive!

There’s no “right” answer, but there is a better answer for your business. You know your business best, and will know it’s right when you’ve made the best decision for your company. Some people may love having an in-house, live person next to them more than the perks of access to a firm. Others may want to free up their time more, and love the work that a firm can take from their plate, as well as the new things they learn about their own company by working with an outside perspective.

At the Bread & Butter Club, we’re used to working with small business clients who have distinctive needs. We build custom service and pricing plans to suit each unique business’s demands, so you can get the services you need, with a payment structure that works in your books.

It may be clear to you now what the best choice is for you as a business owner for your company’s unique needs. And who’s to say that your needs won’t change in the future? Being open will help you adapt to new situations and different problems as they arise. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone! Your company will thank you.


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