The decision to hire a new employee or contract with a B2B marketing agency is a big one , but it’s a decision that really boils down to the bottom line. Which investment will get you the best return?
The answer can be found by asking yourself three questions:
- What type of work do I need accomplished?
- What is the cadence of the work?
- How fast does this work need to be turned around?
When you answer these questions, you’ll be closer to determining exactly how you should invest your marketing dollars to get the work done.
1. What type of work do I need accomplished?
First examine what type of role you’re looking for. Do you need strategic marketing leadership, tactical day-to-day support or a hybrid of the two?
Strategic Marketing Leadership
- You want to drive long-term, sustainable marketing leadership internally within your organization.
- Your organization is complex and multi-layered, requiring deep internal knowledge of your company’s structure and alignment among multiple internal audiences.
- Elevating marketing internally with your leadership team is important.
- You want to quickly inject strategic expertise to drive more immediate growth.
- Your organization’s leadership needs will change as your company grows.
- You don’t yet have the need or the salary funds for a full-time strategic role.
- You want to inject a fresh perspective into your marketing efforts.
Tactical Day-to-Day Support
- You have a large consistent need for ongoing work that requires a specific skillset – making it more cost effective to have a dedicated resource on staff.
- You need marketing expertise in a variety of areas – say digital marketing, copywriting, graphic design and web development and the work does not yet warrant a full-time specialist in any one skillset.
- You want to build out a basic marketing foundation for your company and are ready to go all-in with someone who can focus every single day on not only defining the strategy, but also creating and executing on the marketing programs for your organization.
- You need an internal point person to direct and oversee work outsourced to a B2B marketing agency. This person will coordinate and gather information internally and provide ongoing guidance to agency partners.
- You need a wide range of tactical marketing skillsets along with the expertise to lead strategy, but you can’t find any qualified candidates with a broad enough set of skills to support all your marketing needs.
- You want to test out marketing skillsets before fully committing to the fixed costs of an internal hire.
- You need a senior-level resource, but your budget only affords a junior-level marketer
2. What is the cadence of work?
- You need a certain type of marketing skillset every day in a full-time capacity for the foreseeable future.
- You just need support for a specific project such as a product launch or branding initiative that is a one-time need or has fixed start and end dates.
- Your internal team experiences peaks and valleys in their work volumes and their capacity is maxed at times so they need extra help to get through the peaks.
- A key team member goes out on a temporary leave and you don’t want to lose momentum on your marketing initiatives in the interim.
- You need the flexibility to turn marketing support on and off as needed in order to manage to your budget.
3. How fast does this work need to be turned around?
- The work can wait. You have adequate lead time to hire and train a new employee before the work needs to be completed.
- The work is not mission critical so delaying it won’t negatively impact your bottom line.
- You have fast-approaching deadlines that your internal team can’t meet without putting aside other important marketing priorities that must get done.
- You can’t hire additional staff to support the immediate needs fast enough.
- You’re struggling to find the right resource to hire, but the work can’t wait any longer without negatively impacting your organization.
- Your marketing team is bogged down in the internal workings of the organization and has too many fires to put out to truly focus on a fast turnaround of work.
The Rationale to Hire:
Ongoing Leadership Needs? Hire for Long-term Organizational Value.
When you need long-term sustainable marketing leadership in your organization, it may make sense to hire a full-time marketing director or vice president of marketing. This person will be fully embedded in your business to help you define and deliver on marketing strategies that align directly to your business goals. He or she can also establish strong relationships with other company leaders and teams to help align all aspects of your business.
Regular, Steady Work? Hire for Cost Value.
Fixed, steady, predictable work for a particular skillset is good reason to hire because it will likely be more cost effective to pay a full-time salary than it would be to pay agency rates if all you need is that one skillset. Hiring internal resources will get you people who live and breathe your brand every day and support your needs full-time.
The Luxury of Time? Hire for Long-term Efficiencies.
When time is on your side, you can slow down and explore hiring to support your marketing needs. Keep in mind that hiring sometimes takes a few months and then you have training time to account for. However, once the person is up and running at full speed, you’ll have a long-term team member who knows your business and industry inside and out.
The Rationale to Outsource:
Need to jump-start Your Marketing Program? Outsource for Expertise and Experience without the Fixed Costs.
If you need to quickly develop strategic marketing plans or lead the strategic direction of marketing activities to drive and achieve business growth goals then outsourcing to a B2B marketing agency may make more sense.
You may be able to get more done with an agency as hiring a full-service agency is equivalent to hiring an entire marketing department – except the agency is often more cost effective because you won’t have to worry about paying salaries, benefits or other fixed costs that come with employees. With an agency you get senior-level strategists at a fraction of the cost that comes from hiring for the same level of expertise internally plus all the other marketing skillsets to execute on the work. As an additional bonus, you’ll also get a firsthand view of the marketing skillsets you may want to hire for in the future.
Unpredictable Workloads? Outsource for Flexibility.
Flexibility is key. When your work cadence is unpredictable or you need to fill gaps, outsourcing can help you keep up momentum without being locked into a permanent hire. If you know you need marketing, but you’re not sure how much or for how long, an agency can help you set the right course and deploy the appropriate resources for as long as you need them. You also get the flexibility of being able to turn marketing support on and off as needed.
Quick Turnarounds? Outsource for Speed.
When you have a new initiative that needs a fast turnaround, it may be best to outsource – especially if your internal team members are already stretched thin.
An agency can put a sharper focus on meeting important deadlines while freeing up your team to tackle pressing day-to-day needs. The agency is going to be hyper focused on your deadlines because if they don’t deliver, they know you’ll likely take your business elsewhere in the future so they have a lot at stake if they don’t meet expectations.
The answer to whether you should hire or outsource for marketing functions depends on the skillsets you need, the volume of work you have, and the urgency with which you need that work completed. Once you’ve figured that out, you’re well on your way to deciding how best to get your critical marketing work done.
We’re here to help
If you’re still on the fence about whether to engage a marketing agency or to hire internally, we’re happy to offer a free 20-minute strategy conversation to help you further assess your options. Even if you’re leaning toward a new hire, we can often connect you with people in our network who could be a great fit.
At GrowthMode, we combine the unique discipline of growth marketing and the evergreen principles of traditional marketing to develop integrated strategies and measurable programs that help businesses drive growth where it matters most to their vision. We help our B2B clients focus on their specific goals and ensure that their investment is aligned with their broader strategic vision.