It is often hotly debated in business organisations when a marketing need has been identified – should we hire a marketing employee, or outsource it to an agency?

We believe there are some circumstances where it is better to hire someone in-house, and some circumstances where you are far better off outsourcing it to an agency.

When is it better to hire in-house?

When you already have a marketing team

Companies who already have a thriving marketing department, with at least one experienced marketer on hand to offer support on a day to day basis are probably better off hiring someone on an employed basis.

Unless the hire you are making is quite senior (5+ years experience) there is a good chance they can do more harm than good to your marketing efforts, without someone with vast experience overseeing their work.

While marketing is often sadly undervalued; it takes many years of learning to become competent in a number of areas. Many marketers, even after many years only become excellent in one discipline such as SEO or Pay Per Click. If you need an all-rounder, this can be problematic.

When you only need someone to focus on one specific area of marketing

If you are specifically looking for an SEO expert, or a Google PPC expert then there’s a good chance you can find someone competent to work in-house. The challenges arise when you want them to be experienced in multiple areas.

When the tasks are very basic

If your expectations are that you require someone to carry out some basic marketing tasks, such as email marketing and keeping social pages updated, answering messages and helping with admin tasks in the office – then an Apprentice is likely quite capable of carry this out after some training has been provided and it probably isn’t necessary to outsource this to an agency.

When is it better to hire an agency?

When you have a limited budget

If your budget is only going to be able to afford you a junior marketer, and you don’t have someone to support that person with their marketing efforts then it is better to outsource this to a professional.

An inexperienced marketer who is given the responsibility of the marketing function, without any senior support is likely to feel overwhelmed. They will be spending their time trying to work things out for themselves, and there’s a really good chance they could seriously harm your SEO and social pages by taking the wrong approach.

Your sales are inconsistent

If you are not entirely sure that you will be able to afford a marketers salary in six months time; it is better to hire an agency where your contract is 3-6 months. While an agency won’t be thrilled if their invoices are paid a few days late, the consequences of failing to pay your employees can be devastating on their families.

They require a number of tools for their role

Employers often forget about the vast array of subscriptions and tools required to carry out a marketing function. Adobe licences, PR Media databases, SEO subscriptions such as SEMrush/MOZ/Ahrefs, Mailchimp, Surveymonkey, Shutterstock…. these can easily reach £500 per month, whereas an agency already has all of these in situ to use on your client account. And that’s before we’ve considered the purchase of a laptop, Office licence, desk and chair.

You need expert marketing in various disciplines

If you need your marketer to be proficient in a variety of disciplines – Social media, PR, SEO, Pay-Per-Click… then someone who is really good is going to be hard to find, and you should expect to pay upwards of £35,000 for this sort of skill set.

Often employers have a budget of £20,000-25,000 but have a long list of skills required for the role, and ultimately, it just isn’t realistic that someone with these skills will want to work for little above minimum wage, unless they’re just not very good.

How much will a marketer cost to employ?

Below is a table of the real costs to an employer of hiring a marketer, at varying levels of seniority.

Job Title Salary Gross Monthly Employers Ni Marketing tools TOTAL
Apprentice £9,600 £ 800 £0 £100 £900
Junior Marketer £20,000 £1,666 £130.66 £100 £1896.66
Marketing Manager £28,000 £2,333 £222.66 £300 £2855.66
Senior Marketing Manager £35,000 £2916 £303.16 £300 £3519.16

How do these salaries compare to hiring an agency?

Our retainers typically range between £500 and £2,000 per month, depending on the scope of work required. Some agencies cost a lot more, some a little less.

At the very top end for a full-service marketing package, this is still little more than a junior marketer’s salary and you are getting the wisdom of a whole team of experts, with advanced skills in array of marketing disciplines.

We are accountable to KPI’s, and you aren’t paying us for loo breaks, or a Monday morning chat about our weekend. If you consider how many hours per day an employee is productive, and how long is may take them to to complete a task compared to an expert – the overall result is a great deal more output for less cost to the employer.