Marketing Investment: Hiring Internally vs. Hiring an Inbound Agency

By Autumn Smith

There are a lot of factors that come into play when deciding whether or not to hire internally or externally for your business’s marketing needs.

Trust is a huge factor, of course, but just like interviewing to find the best fit for a trusted employee, you can do the same with marketing agencies. Let’s be honest, trust is a two-way street. Much like hiring an employee, an agency wants to make sure they are a good fit for your work culture as well before signing and committing to anything.

Workload is another. Your business goals and marketing strategy will determine how much work is needed. It’s not likely you’re going to find one person who specializes in every marketing need across the board - so how many individuals are you going to have to hire to make up a team?

This brings me to my next factor - budget, which is often the number one question. How much is this going to cost?

To give you an idea, I’ve put together an estimated cost for either option. I looked at the average salary for marketing hires and compared it to the average pricing of an inbound agency - based on meeting the needs of a modern marketing strategy.

There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to marketing. However, an modern marketing strategy typically includes:

  • Strategy development
  • Market research
  • Data analysis
  • Buyer persona development
  • Blog articles
  • Social media publishing
  • Email newsletters
  • Graphic design
  • Content offers
  • SEO / keywords
  • The use of marketing software
  • And more based on the business’s needs and goals

My guess, you didn’t become the founder of a tech company or the owner of a travel business to follow your passion for marketing. It might be the opposite. Whether you know what you are doing or not, there’s not enough bandwidth to cover all areas of your business - but you know you need it.

It’s best not to wait until you are desperate for customers or have sizeable marketing challenges on your hands to make your first marketing hire. You could end up hiring an employee or agency who might not be the best fit. Your business’s marketing should be a priority from the beginning. Check out our article on When to Start Marketing Your Startup for more details there.

While there are quick wins, it takes time to see marketing results. That being said, if you are in one of the above situations, be sure to take the time to do your due diligence before jumping into anything or committing to what could be a strict contract.

Now here comes the BIG question.

How do you want to invest your marketing budget?

Would you rather hire internally or hire an agency?

Salary + incentives source:, Marketing Manager Salary in San Diego, 2019. Benefits vary. Agency pricing - visited multiple agency sites and to find the average.

Here’s a breakdown of what it would cost to hire a marketing manager versus the pricing of a marketing agency.

The cost difference is quite staggering, especially since we are only talking about hiring one person. It’s not likely one person can take on the workload or handle each of the specialties, so you and your marketing manager will likely need to hire a team.

Source: Graphic Designer salary in San Diego - | Social Media Manager in San Diego - LinkedIn | Content Writer and Junior Web Developer salaries in San Diego -

Who you hire for your marketing team would vary depending on your marketing goals and strategy of course, but the above example is to cover marketing activities that are typical of a modern marketing strategy.

Perhaps you want to upgrade to the next service tier with an agency in order to meet higher goals? Below is an example of what that could look like.

Standard tier - $5000 monthly average | Growth tier $8000 monthly average.

Even at the highest service tier, it's still could be more cost effective to partner with an agency that comes with their own team versus hiring your own. You aren't paying agency staff incentives, benefits, costs associated with their payroll or HR. The owner(s) of the agency have all that covered. With an agency, you are investing into a service that is tailored to your business's needs and paying only for the work they do for you.

On the other hand. If you do want to hire an internal team, I'm not advising against it. I would only recommend that you plan ahead, know which roles you need to hire for, and that you consider the work load for each one.


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2019 Advisory Cure