In-house or Agency? What to Consider When Expanding Your Home-Grown Marketing

By Jackie Krick

As small businesses grow, they inevitably experience challenges in finance, operations, technology, sales and marketing. Business owners must continually answer an influx of questions to improve their resources, be more agile, and stand out from their competition.

With growth comes change, and each of these segments begins to transform into independent structures, so adopting new strategies and adding more resources become necessary.

Marketing, for example, is an essential component for every business. Doing it well will elevate your business to a new and consistent brand, define new strategies and expand focused outreach.

But taking your home-grown marketing activities to the next level must be done carefully and decisions are not easy.

Marketing is about finding a balance between the status quo and opportunity while also turning the reins to someone else to oversee these activities. Marketing is an essential ingredient in any business, and it must be front and center with your growth strategies to represent your brand and be recognizable and trusted.

As businesses grow they have to make a decision – hire a marketing firm or in-house marketing professional? Both have critical outcomes. This chart helps you break it down:

  Budget Benefit Expertise Flexibility
Marketing Agency It’s cost-effective and often less than the cost of adding one employee to your organization. When you hire an agency, you hire a team of experts. They become a part of your organization and provide the services you need when as often as you need them.

Can scale up as your business grows.

You have access to a team of marketing professionals with an array of expertise.

Marketing agencies also offer fresh perspectives, new ideas, and industry knowledge.

Offer rapid and flexible ramp-up.

Can provide other resources when needed.

Internal Team It is generally more expensive to hire a marketing professional.

Employing a dedicated marketing expert means adding staff to the organization with increased costs in payroll, healthcare, and other fringe benefits.

The employee is fully vested in your business and always available.

This person understands your team and what the company is all about.

He/she is committed to growing the business.

It is limited to your budget and the number of marketing professionals that you hire. Limited availability, depending on what else is on their plate.

May need to seek and hire new staff, or spend time looking for outside resources.

I have connected with many small businesses, facing similar decisions, and the question that always surfaces to the top is budget. Regardless of your decision, always have an operating budget assigned to your marketing activities. It will make your transition easier, reduce the time you spend thinking and not doing anything about it, and accelerate your growth opportunities.

Choose wisely!


Jackie Krick is ECU and founder of ECU Communications, LLC (ECU), a leading woman-owned and full-service agency specializing in digital communications and cross-cultural services. Learn more at


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