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Hiring a Marketer vs an Agency: Pros, Cons + Tips

If you run a small to medium-sized business looking to expand your marketing team - congrats! Read about hiring a marketer vs an agency to decide what's best.

Octavia Drexler
By Octavia Drexler

Published February 13, 2024.


Shakespeare's big question might have been to be or not to be, but for modern business owners and CMOs, the big questions are (far) more palpable than that. Questions like "What's the best way to fill a marketing role, hiring a marketer vs hiring an agency" are (a lot) closer to the thoughts that make marketing managers and founders toss and turn at night. 

We don't have an answer. Hiring a digital agency is great, but hiring an individual digital marketer can be just as great. It depends on who you are, what you do, what your needs are, and the kinds of digital marketing strategies you want to employ. 

What we can do is provide you with all the info you need to make an informed decision. Keep reading and find out more.

Benefits of hiring a digital marketing agency

Hiring agencies can be very beneficial for businesses of all sizes. Some of the most important advantages to consider include:

Save time & money

Businesses often find that by outsourcing to a digital marketing agency, they can reduce the cost associated with hiring an in-house marketing team, such as salary, benefits, and ongoing training. Additionally, an agency team of experts can save a company significant time, allowing internal staff to focus on core business operations instead of navigating the complexities of the digital marketing landscape.



Access a broader pool of expertise

Digital marketing agencies bring a diverse set of skills and knowledge that is difficult to match with an internal team of marketers. Their broad expertise across various digital channels and tactics can drive more effective and innovative marketing campaigns.

Scale more easily

A digital marketing agency readily adapts to the ever-changing needs of a business, scaling efforts up or down as required. This scalability ensures that marketing strategies are agile and can evolve with market trends or business goals without the need for additional hires or restructuring.

Utilize insider tools & resources

Agencies have access to state-of-the-art marketing tools and resources that can be too costly for businesses to pay for on their own. Using these advanced tools, agencies can deliver more sophisticated analysis, reporting, and strategic insight. So if you own an online store, for example, you might want to look for an agency specialized in this niche and has access to the best eCommerce marketing tools on the market

Enjoy a bird’s eye view

Agencies offer a valuable outside perspective that can identify opportunities and challenges that may not be apparent from within an organization. Because they work with multiple clients at once, agencies can cross-pollinate ideas on trends and market changes.

This external viewpoint often leads to more holistic and objective marketing strategies, ultimately driving better business outcomes.

On that note, keep in mind that your SLA (service-level agreement) should include notes on how data, content, and other assets will be handled during the relationship, and once your collaboration is done too. A non-disclosure agreement and a solid contractual agreement will go a long way in protecting your business and ensuring the agency follows best practices. 

Tap into a well-established network

Agencies not only bring their expertise but also come armed with extensive networks that can offer significant advantages in terms of partnerships, media buying, and influencing. These established connections potentially mean more competitive rates and access to exclusive channels or insider knowledge, giving businesses an edge over competitors.

Consider how difficult it is to build external backlinks to your website, for example. This element can make a lot of difference in search engine optimization. While an internal SEO specialist or team of specialists can handle outreach, connect, build relationships, and try to acquire links, an agency comes with its network. This makes the backlink process quicker and more efficient.

Receive continued support

A digital marketing agency's job doesn't end once a campaign or project is completed. They provide ongoing support and optimization to ensure that the results continue to meet or exceed expectations. This ongoing partnership allows businesses to continuously improve marketing efforts and adapt to new challenges and opportunities.

Challenges of hiring and working with marketing firms

Hiring and working with an agency isn't always a bed of roses. Some common hurdles businesses may face include:

Communication & alignment

Effective communication on marketing goal alignment, expectations, and strategies is key to a successful partnership with a digital marketing agency. This requires clear and open communication channels that facilitate collaboration, transparency, and regular reporting.



Lack of brand familiarity

A good agency will partner with you and take the time to understand your brand, values, and unique selling points. However, some projects may require more in-depth knowledge of a specific niche or industry. In these cases, it's important to ensure that the agency has a solid understanding of your business and target audience.

Hidden fees & transparency problems

Unfortunately, some agencies aren't as straightforward about their pricing as they should be. Hidden fees and unexpected costs can quickly add up, causing friction in the relationship. Have a clear understanding of all costs involved upfront to avoid any surprises down the road.

Contract minimums

Similarly, some agencies may require a minimum contract period or project size, which can be challenging for businesses with tighter marketing budgets or smaller-scale projects. It's important to discuss these requirements before signing any agreements to avoid any potential conflicts.

Lack of agility

An agency will come with its processes, systems, and team structure. This may not align with a business's workflow and can cause delays and hinder the agility of campaigns or projects. It's important to address any potential conflicts in processes or methodologies before embarking on a partnership.

Benefits of hiring a marketer

Hiring an in-house or consultant marketer can be a great alternative to working with a larger agency. Some of the most important benefits of working with a digital marketer internally include:

Greater dedication

An in-house or consultant marketer provides a focused approach, dedicating expertise and attention solely to your brand’s unique needs. This allows for deeper brand immersion, yielding tailored strategies that align closely with your company's vision and objectives.

The difference between an in-house hire and a consultant is that an in-house marketer will participate in all meetings and events, whereas consultants will only attend the essential ones, or they'll work on an on-call model from this point of view. Neither of these options is worse than the other -- but it's worth considering before making a hire.



Better brand familiarity

In-house or consultant marketers can dedicate their complete focus and resources to understanding and promoting your specific brand. This specialized attention results in bespoke marketing strategies that are synced with your business's unique goals and audience.

More control

You cannot control what an agency does. You can give them briefs, guidelines, and instructions, but ultimately the agency will make its own decisions. However, you can have ongoing communication with an in-house or consultant marketer, and more say in how they execute marketing projects. Given that they are directly under your supervision, they can adapt quickly to changing needs or demands.

Full ownership

When working with an agency, you might discover that you don't fully own the work or assets produced, which can be a significant issue in the long term. With an internal marketer, all work and assets belong solely to your company, giving you complete ownership and control over your marketing efforts.

Challenges of hiring marketers

Unfortunately, hiring marketers internally doesn't come easy either. Not only is there a huge pool of candidates for virtually every role, but finding the right fit can also be a challenge. Some other common challenges include:

Limited skill set

An in-house or consultant marketer may be well-versed in certain areas, but they may lack expertise in others. This can lead to gaps in knowledge and skills that could potentially hinder the success of marketing efforts.

It's time-consuming

Recruiting and hiring an in-house or consultant marketer can be a lengthy process that involves multiple interviews, evaluations, and negotiations. This can take up valuable time and resources that could be used elsewhere.



It can be costly

Hiring a full-time employee or consultant marketer comes with its own set of costs, including salary, benefits, taxes, and potential equipment and training expenses. This disadvantage stands in the case of an agency too, but, depending on the type of agency you choose and the services you require, it could potentially be more cost-effective than an internal marketer.

Limited perspective

Internal marketers may have a limited perspective on industry trends and best practices, as they are not exposed to a variety of clients and industries like an agency would be. This can result in stagnant or outdated marketing strategies that fail to keep up with constantly evolving markets.

Longer time to wait for results

When you work with an agency, there's an entire team focusing on specific marketing objectives for your business. They have tried and tested processes, they know what works, and they have the resources to implement them quickly. With an in-house or consultant marketer, results may take longer to achieve due to limited resources and experience.

When should you hire an individual marketer?

Let's say you have weighed all the pros and cons and you're leaning more towards the in-house option. There are three main scenarios where hiring an in-house or consultant marketer can be the right choice for your business:

Long-term marketing needs

If your business has consistent and long-term marketing needs, it may make more sense to have a dedicated internal marketer rather than relying on external agencies. This allows for better brand consistency and long-term planning, as well as easier communication and collaboration.

Ready access to talent

If you want to have access to your marketers without having to schedule calls, meetings, or work time around different time zones, hiring someone in-house may be the better choice. This gives you more control and allows for faster turnaround times on urgent tasks or projects.

When you work in a specialized market

No matter how niche an agency might be, hiring in-house or consultant marketers who have experience in your specific market can give you a competitive edge. They have the knowledge and expertise to create tailored strategies that are more likely to resonate with your target audience.


When should you hire an external marketer (or team)?

Similarly, hiring an external marketer or agency is not always the best choice for every business. However, here are some scenarios where hiring an agency or consultant marketing service may be a more suitable option:

You have a small business

Small businesses may not have the resources to hire a full-time marketer, making an agency or consultant service a more cost-effective and budget-friendly option. This also gives small businesses access to professionals with a diverse skill set and industry experience.

You need immediate results

Need quick and immediate results for an upcoming launch or event? Hiring a consultant marketing agency can get you the expertise and resources you need without having to go through the lengthy hiring process.

Your marketing goals require multiple areas of expertise

If your business requires a diverse range of marketing skills, such as graphic design, SEO, social media management, and content creation, it may be more efficient to hire an agency that has professionals with specialized expertise in each area rather than hiring individual employees.

How to hire an agency or a marketer (the right way)

Regardless of whether you settle for an agency or an internal marketing professional, you want to make sure you put your money and time in the right people. Essentially, the hiring process is the same: you ask around and do your research, you shortlist your candidates, and you interview them. But here are a few tips to help you make the best decision:

Check references & past work

This might seem like a tedious and unnecessary extra step, but it's an effective way to effectively assess a professional or a team you haven't worked with before. Candidates (both individuals or agencies) can say a lot of things about their experience, but if their references and their past work track record don't check, something's probably off.



Ask the right questions

Make sure you ask relevant questions that will help you assess the candidate's skills, experience, and fit for your business. Finding out their approach to a specific marketing challenge, or how they have handled difficult clients in the past, can give you insights into their problem-solving abilities and communication style.

For instance, questions you should ask a marketing agency include:

  • Can you provide examples of successful campaigns you have worked on in the past?
  • How do you measure and track the success of your marketing efforts?
  • How do you handle changing market trends and adapt your strategies accordingly?

For an in-house marketer, questions could include:

  • What is your experience working in our industry or a similar one?
  • How do you plan and execute long-term marketing strategies?
  • How do you stay updated on the latest industry trends and best practices?

Set SMART goals

One of the most common issues in the relationship between marketers (individuals or agencies) and businesses is the lack of clarity, especially in the expectations department. To address this problem, set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that both parties can agree on. This ensures everyone is on the same page and working towards the same objectives.



Assess skills, results, AND personality fit

Your chosen marketer(s) could be the next Steve Jobs and Leo Burnett – if you don't get along, it will not work. While skills and results are important, don't underestimate the importance of personality fit.

You want someone who not only has the expertise to fulfill your marketing needs but also meshes well with your company culture and values. This will help you collaborate and communicate more efficiently and it will also help you all come up with more creative and innovative ideas together.

What if you didn’t have to choose?

Or at least not this way?

At Mayple, we're all marketers. We know the struggle of both working with businesses and hiring marketers. We also know that now, more than ever, companies need flexibility, not strict arrangements that serve no one.

That's why we created a platform that enables businesses to work with top-performing marketing experts and agencies without the downsides associated with "external" providers.

We vet our marketers, match them with our customers using machine learning, and keep everything in check until the end of the collaboration. This way, we eliminate a lot of the hurdles businesses face when hiring externally. You get to:

  • Work with experts who can offer the bird's eye view
  • Work on your terms and cancel or change your expert whenever you want
  • Eliminate the frustration of communicating with an agency (and the hidden costs, too)
  • Avoid engaging in long-term arrangements that simply don't work in fast-paced environments
  • Enjoy control and ownership, so you can focus on growing your business while our vetted specialists handle the marketing
  • Benefit from a hiring process that's A LOT easier and faster (just contact us, tell us what you need, and we'll match you with an expert in a few days tops)
  • Collaborate with experts who are already familiar with your industry, which minimizes the learning curve and makes your marketing initiatives more likely to succeed from the get-go

Whether you want to work with a vetted agency or an individual expert, we're here. Contact us and let's chat!