Should Your Small Business Hire a Marketing Agency or Build a Marketing Team? Which marketing plan works best for the modern entrepreneur: outside or in-house? Here are four important factors to consider.

By Tanner Simkins

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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As your small business grows, at some point you'll need to take your marketing strategy to the next level. While many leaders of new and small businesses are used to taking on a variety of roles, there will come a time when it makes sense to pass marketing roles on to the experts. Doing so is vital for making sure that your business continues to develop new customers, build its brand, and stay competitive in its industry.

For many leaders the realization that they need to work with marketing professionals leads to questions of whether to turn to a marketing agency or hire an in-house marketing team. There is no right answer to this question, as it depends on the business's resources and needs. That said, there are a few issues that leaders should consider when determining whether to hire a marketing agency or to develop an in-house team. Here are a few key factors to think about.

Type of expertise

What type of expertise do you want? An in-house marketing professional offers in-depth knowledge of your business. This person (or these people) will know exactly what your team does and exactly what your team is about. Additionally, every moment will be spent on your business, and they'll be fully invested in your business's success.

In contrast, when working with a marketing agency, you'll get access to an entire team of marketing professionals with an array of expertise. While you might not get the same level of knowledge and investment in your business, you will get a team on the cutting-edge of the industry with a variety of applicable skill sets. In addition, you'll get a fresh perspective and a new look at what your business is doing. Finally, marketing agencies have the benefit of working with a variety of businesses, which means they bring a wealth of industry knowledge to each client.

Related: How to Know If Your Company Needs a B2B Marketing Agency

In-house marketing professionals and marketing agencies both bring unique areas of expertise. When determining what's best for your business, it's important to consider the type of expertise your business wants and needs.


Budget is an important factor to consider as it's generally more expensive to hire your own marketing professional than it is to work with a marketing agency. When you hire a marketing expert, you need to keep in mind that you're not only going to have to pay their salary but also all of the additional expenses that come with hiring quality employees including recruitment costs, payroll taxes, pensions, benefits and training.

As a result, while you might think the salary of one employee is equivalent to the retainer for a marketing agency, it's also important to factor in all of the additional costs. In most cases, the reality is that working with an agency is less expensive than having in-house marketing experts.


Timeline is another key factor to consider. In some cases, small businesses find themselves pressured to develop a marketing strategy. This can happen if customer growth plateaus, competitors begin gaining market share, or new products are not taking off as anticipated.

In these situations, businesses need immediate action and should consider a market agency.

Marketing agencies can jump in immediately and quickly develop a marketing strategy. It takes much longer to recruit, hire and train your own marketing professional.

Related: No Time for Marketing? Hire a Freelancer

Communication style

Another factor to consider is what sort of communication you'd like to have with your marketing team. Having someone in-house means that you are working side-by-side, have regular communication, and can get ongoing, immediate updates.

You won't have this sort of access if you work with a marketing agency. Generally, when working with an agency, there are a lot of in-person meetings in the beginning as a strategy is developed. After that, things shift to primarily e-mail and phone communication, and you won't have the same sort of constant communication and access. For some leaders, this is fine, for others, it's a major negative for working with an agency. Either way, it's important to think through this difference and determine what's best for you and your team.

Working with marketing professionals to develop an effective marketing strategy is an important part of sustaining and growing your business. While marketing is something that most leaders take on in the beginning, it's a consuming job that at some point will need to be delegated to maximize results and to effectively manage your team's time.

Marketing is never done, it is a long haul. With that in mind, it's important to turn to marketing professionals who are fully dedicated to growing businesses. Determining whether to work with an agency or to build your own team can be tricky, but weighing the right factors will enable your business to make the right choice and to move forward with the right team.

Related: Agency vs In-house vs Freelancers: A Startup's Guide to Advertising Options

Wavy Line
Tanner Simkins

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer

Founder and CEO of Complete SET Agency

Simkins is founder and CEO of Complete SET Agency, a full-service sports entertainment firm that works with multinational brands, athlete entertainers and accredited investors. Simkins holds degrees from the University of Miami and Columbia University. 

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