Don't Do It Yourself
Marketing Agency vs In House Marketing

Marketing Agency vs In-House: Pros, Cons, & Pricing

Deciding between an in-house marketing team and hiring an agency is a big deal for your business.

An in-house team lives and breathes your brand, but is expensive to operate. A marketing agency delivers diverse expertise but isn’t your dedicated resource.

Ultimately, the choice depends on your resources, budget, and marketing goals.

Find out whether it's better to keep things in-house or call in the pros from an agency!

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Key Takeaways

  • Evaluate your business's specific needs and goals to determine whether an in-house team or an agency is the right fit.
  • An in-house team offers deep brand alignment and dedicated focus, while an agency provides a broad range of expertise and scalability.
  • Consider a hybrid approach, combining in-house and agency resources, to leverage the strengths of both while mitigating their limitations.
  • Regularly reassess your marketing strategy and team structure to ensure they align with your evolving business objectives and market dynamics.

What’s the Difference Between a Marketing Agency and In-House Team?

Whats the Difference Agency vs In House

Marketing Agency
In-House Team
Best for
Businesses looking for a wide range of expertise and services
Businesses seeking deep brand alignment and control
Average Cost
$20,000 - $200,000+/year
Varies widely; often based on services provided and contract terms
$250,000/ year
Typically includes salaries, benefits, training, and tools; can be higher due to ongoing expenses
- Access to a diverse set of skills and expertise
- Scalability and flexibility in services
- Often more aware of the latest trends and tools
- Deep understanding of the brand and culture
- Dedicated focus on your business's specific goals
- Easier collaboration and communication
- Less control over the team
- May not have a deep understanding of your specific brand
- Limited to the skills of the in-house team
- Can be more expensive in the long run
- Takes time to hire and train 

A marketing agency is like a Swiss Army knife—packed with all sorts of tools (or in this case, experts) for different jobs. Need an SEO guru? Check. A wizard on social media? Got it. They bring a whole buffet of skills to the table, which is great for getting a taste of everything.

Different types of marketing agencies may offer unique specialties. Learn all about the different types of marketing agencies in this guide.

Now, an in-house team is more like your trusty chef's knife-super focused and all about your specific needs. Built by you for you.

They are all in on your brand, diving deep into what makes your business tick. They're in it for the long haul, crafting strategies that fit like a glove because they live and breathe your company culture.

It's about finding the right fit for your marketing needs and budget, whether you're after variety or that tailor-made touch.

In-House Marketing Team

In House Marketing Team

An in-house marketing team, your company's own personal marketing squad, fully dedicated to just your brand.

They're all about your business, day in and day out, making sure every marketing move is totally in sync with what your brand stands for.

They offer a tight-knit vibe-they get your brand inside out. Furthermore, it’s a team that you create and hire. Therefore, you can choose which marketing roles it includes based on your needs.

Check out our helpful guide for structuring a high-performing marketing team.

How Much it Costs

An in-house marketing team can be a steep investment, especially if you hire a comprehensive team.

The average salary of an in-house marketing team member is $52,000/year.

Here’s an example of some average salaries:

  • SEO specialist: $49,000
  • Digital marketing manager: $65,000
  • Social media specialist: $48,000
  • Digital marketing specialist: $49,000

However, salaries are only one cost. You must also consider expenses like:

  • Hiring, onboarding, training
  • Taxes
  • Insurance
  • Other benefits
  • Equipment/software

With all of those expenses, the average employee costs closer to $70,000/year. For smaller companies, an internal marketing team is a huge expense that may not be possible to handle.


  • Brand Familiarity: An in-house team lives and breathes your brand, ensuring marketing efforts are deeply aligned with your company's voice and values.
  • Quick Communication: Being under the same roof, or digitally connected, allows for swift communication and immediate feedback on marketing initiatives.
  • Dedicated Focus: Your in-house team is solely focused on your business's success, without the distraction of other clients or projects.
  • Cultural Integration: Team members are immersed in your company culture, which can lead to more authentic and cohesive marketing strategies.
  • Long-term Strategy: An in-house team can plan and execute long-term marketing strategies, building and adapting over time for sustained growth.


  • Limited Expertise: An in-house team might not possess the wide range of specialized skills that a diverse agency team offers, potentially limiting your marketing capabilities.
  • Higher Long-term Costs: Maintaining an in-house team can be expensive due to salaries, benefits, training, and necessary marketing tools, especially if you're aiming for a team with diverse skill sets.
  • Scalability Challenges: As your business grows, scaling an in-house team to match your expanding marketing needs can be slow and challenging, requiring more hires, space, and resources.

Hiring a Marketing Agency

Hire Marketing Agency

Hiring a marketing agency is like teaming up with a bunch of marketing superheroes. They've got specialists for everything – whether it's making noise on social media, getting your website to the top of search results, or crafting killer ads.

They use the latest tech and know-how to get your brand out there. Plus, they're super flexible. Need to ramp up your marketing for a big launch or dial it back a bit? They've got you covered.

It's a great way to get fresh, creative ideas and make sure your marketing is always on point, without having to manage everything in-house.

How Much it Costs

The cost of hiring a digital marketing agency can be anywhere from $900 to $20,000 per month.

It depends on several factors, including:

  • Agency size
  • Location
  • Expertise
  • Overall experience
  • Your industry
  • Your goals
  • Your desired speed of results
  • Project scope

Agency specialty plays a huge role. For example, a content marketing agency will cost $5,000/month on average, whereas an eCommerce marketing team averages $14,000/month.

Check out our guide on marketing agency pricing to learn more about how much different types of agencies charge.


  • Access to Expertise: Marketing agencies provide a team of specialized experts under one roof, offering a wide range of skills.
  • Cost-Effective: Outsourcing can be more budget-friendly than hiring a full in-house team. You pay for services without the overhead of full-time salaries and benefits.
  • Scalability: Agencies can quickly adapt to your changing needs, scaling up or down as your marketing campaigns require.
  • Innovative Perspectives: Agencies often bring fresh, outside perspectives and innovative ideas to enhance your marketing strategies.
  • Advanced Tools and Technologies: Marketing agencies have access to the latest tools and technologies. They provide your business with cutting-edge marketing solutions without you having to invest in each tool individually.


  • Less Control: When you outsource to an agency, you might have less direct control over the day-to-day details of your marketing campaigns.
  • Brand Understanding: An external agency may take longer to fully grasp and embody your brand's voice and values compared to an in-house team.
  • Communication Hurdles: Coordinating with an external agency may lead to communication challenges or delays, especially if they are juggling multiple clients.

Which is Better, Agency or In-house Marketing?

Which Is Better Agency or In House

An agency or in-house team is not inherently better than the other. Each has its unique benefits and drawbacks. You must choose the option that best aligns with your needs, budget, and brand.

Let’s break it down.

Choose In-House Marketing
Choose Marketing Agency
Brand Identity
To maintain a consistent and deep brand identity.
Apple: Their in-house team ensures all marketing aligns perfectly with their established brand ethos.
When needing an outside perspective to refresh or innovate your brand identity.
Old Spice: Revitalized its brand image with fresh, innovative campaigns from an agency.
Company Growth Stage
For startups or small businesses focusing on building their internal culture and brand voice.
Airbnb: Initially focused on building a strong brand culture and consistent voice with an in-house team.
For SMEs or businesses needing to scale quickly without the time or resources to build a large in-house team.
Shopify: Used agencies to scale marketing efforts rapidly during its growth phase.
Product Specialization
When your product or service requires deep, specialized knowledge that is best understood by an internal team.
Tesla: Their in-house team can intricately communicate the nuances of their innovative products.
When you need a broad range of expertise or specialized skills that your in-house team lacks.
Local Restaurant Chain: Used an agency for targeted local SEO and digital advertising to expand its reach.

When In-House Marketing is Best

  • Company with a Strong Brand Identity: Apple is known for its distinct brand identity and culture, and benefits from an in-house team that lives and breathes its values. An internal team ensures every marketing effort is deeply aligned with its brand ethos.
  • Startups Seeking to Build Culture: In its early days, Airbnb was a startup seeking to establish a strong culture. So they might have preferred an in-house team to embed the brand's unique story and values in every marketing initiative.
  • Businesses with Highly Specialized Products: Tesla deals with innovative and specialized products. Therefore, they may opt for in-house marketing to ensure the team has an in-depth understanding of the product and can communicate its unique value proposition effectively.

Bonus tip: Your internal marketing team doesn’t have to be full-time! You can build a network of trusted freelance marketers to handle marketing needs. They may have other clients, but working with the same freelancers consistently will help provide the feel of internal team members with less expense.

When Hiring a Marketing Agency is Best

  • Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Needing Expertise: An SME (like a local restaurant chain aiming to expand its reach) could benefit from an agency's expertise in local SEO and targeted digital advertising. They can leverage the agency's resources and skills to grow efficiently.
  • Companies Needing Scalability: A fast-growing e-commerce brand, similar to the early days of Shopify, might partner with an agency to quickly scale its marketing efforts. Doing so taps into the agency's diverse skill set and resources to support rapid growth.
  • Organizations Seeking Fresh Ideas: A well-established brand looking to reinvigorate its image, such as Old Spice, can benefit from the fresh perspectives and innovative strategies an agency provides. An agency can help reposition the brand and attract new audiences.

Final Verdict

Choosing between an in-house marketing team and an agency?

It's all about what fits your business best.

Think about what you need most: is it the close-knit brand connection an in-house team offers, or the wide-ranging skills and quick scalability of an agency?

And hey, you don't have to pick just one. Mixing it up with some in-house pros and a freelancer or agency's diverse talents can be the perfect recipe.

Looking for a place to find the best hire?

Try our free agency match. We’ll pair you with the best marketing agency for your needs in under a minute.

Or check out our top freelance websites for hiring freelancers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is in-house marketing?

In-house marketing involves a dedicated team within your company focusing solely on your marketing needs. It ensures that strategies align closely with your brand's goals and identity.

How do you structure an in-house marketing team?

Structure it based on your business's needs, typically including roles like content creators, SEO specialists, social media managers, and data analysts. Learn more in our guide on how to structure your marketing dream team.

What is the difference between in-house and agency marketing?

In-house marketing teams focus exclusively on your brand, offering deep brand alignment. Agencies provide a broad range of expertise and services across different clients and industries.

What are the advantages of hiring an external marketing agency?

Agencies offer specialized expertise, scalability, and access to advanced tools and technologies. They often bring innovative strategies and fresh perspectives to your marketing efforts.

Should I hire an in-house marketing team or outsource to an agency?

It depends on your business's specific needs, resources, and goals. Evaluate whether you need deep brand integration or a wide range of marketing expertise to decide the best fit.