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September 5, 2018

Should I hire a marketing manager or work with a marketing agency?

For many small business owners, their company is their pride and joy. They’ve built it from the ground up through many sleepless nights and cups of coffee. And for most entrepreneurs, they started out doing everything on their own. Before a company really picks up steam, the entrepreneur often acts as the owner, CEO, accountant, sales team, and marketing department.

As that company begins to flourish, however, the entrepreneur will quickly realize that he or she needs a team of industry experts to take that business to the next level. And, as every business owner comes to find out, a company needs an effective marketing department to survive.

If you are a small business owner and have recently found yourself in this scenario, then you might be facing the question of whether you should hire an in-house marketing manager, or work with a marketing agency.

If you feel somewhat at a loss, don’t worry. We want to help you understand the essential differences between the two, and help you decide which would best fit your small business’ needs. There are a few essential things to consider when contemplating a marketing agency or a marketing manager.


Treefrog Marketing helps clients choose whether to hire a marketing manager or work with a marketing agency.

By hiring an in-house marketing manager, that individual’s expertise and past experience will most likely be reflected in the fees you are paying them. When hiring in-house, you’ll probably find yourself choosing certain niches over others.

For example, if you want to hire a marketing individual who is exceptional in the area of social media marketing, they may lack design capabilities. Or, maybe you’ll hire someone who is great at generating blog posts, but they lack in creating effective ads. When hiring a marketing manager, there is most likely going to be some give and take in what you get for your money.

When you work with a marketing agency, you’ll get a more well-rounded package of expertise across a variety of marketing fields: content creation, social media marketing, blogging, strategy, web design, graphic design, and more. You’ll also reap the benefits of having marketing experts execute your projects. Marketing agencies put a lot of time into researching the latest marketing trends and are therefore able to generate fresh and effective ideas for your company.

Treefrog Marketing helps clients choose whether to hire a marketing manager or work with a marketing agency.

Another component to consider when deciding between a marketing agency or manager is the time constraint you expect to accompany each marketing project. One benefit of having an in-house marketing manager is that his or her time is completely devoted to your company’s marketing needs.

However, since marketing managers are most likely carrying out entire projects on their own, it may take them longer to complete all the various components involved in a single marketing effort. You may find that a marketing manager can quickly become overwhelmed by time-sensitive projects, since they have to do everything on their own.

When you work with a marketing agency, they will likely have outside projects for other companies going on as well. However, agencies are also comprised of a whole team of experts that can quickly and effectively complete their specific tasks. They will not be distracted by miscellaneous company tasks or meetings and therefore are able to devote all of their time to completing your project. When you hire an outside marketing agency, chances are your deadlines won’t be missed.

Treefrog Marketing helps clients choose whether to hire a marketing manager or work with a marketing agency.

Your budget is an essential component in your final decision to either work with a marketing agency or hire a marketing manager. If your budget swings towards the lower end of things, then hiring on a young, eager marketing manager may be a better option. However, if you go that route, the person you hire on will probably not be skilled in all of the areas of strategic marketing and come with additional costs, even if his or her fees are lower at face value.

According to PayScale, the average marketing manager salary comes in around $63,000. The lowest end of that salary scale is around $40,000, while the highest-paid (and most experienced) marketing managers will make upwards of $90,000 and will charge accordingly. These costs do not include additional taxes, healthcare, 401k matches, or other benefits your company may offer — and your business’ location also plays a role in setting a competitive salary range.

With a marketing agency, you’re likely to pay anywhere between $6,000 and $60,000 annually, depending on that agency’s prestige and experience. An advantage you’ll find if you work with a marketing agency is that what you pay annually comes at face value — no need to factor healthcare or other benefits into the costs. Additionally, you can hire on marketing agencies for just a single project or month at a time, depending on your marketing needs.

Project Span
Treefrog Marketing helps clients choose whether to hire a marketing manager or work with a marketing agency.

Your decision between hiring a marketing manager or agency will depend a lot on the type of projects you will need carried out. As mentioned above, with a marketing manager, you are going to get what you pay for. So, if your company is on the smaller side and doesn’t need an all-inclusive marketing effort, then hiring a single in-house marketer to carry out small projects may be all that you need.

However, if you intend to cover a wide variety of marketing mediums through your projects, then going with a marketing agency may be the better move for you. When you work with a marketing agency, they’ll have the expertise and capability to execute large marketing projects. This means you’ll have access to marketing through social media, websites, blogs, videos, graphics, ads, and more. With a marketing agency, you have many more options to choose from when deciding on your next project, allowing you to keep your business’ marketing fresh and exciting.

Treefrog Marketing helps clients choose whether to hire a marketing manager or work with a marketing agency.

Having an in-house marketing manager right down the hall is extremely convenient when you have a quick question, or want to note something important on an upcoming marketing project. It also makes for easier collaboration, as well as clearer communication on project details and timelines. If you choose to work with a marketing agency, most communication will be online and through scheduled meetings.

Since a marketing manager is in house, he or she will also have a better understanding of your company’s culture and mission. However, sometimes having an outside perspective can bring clarity to marketing decisions. Sometimes in business, your own mission and opinions can get in the way of producing effective marketing projects. With a marketing agency, you can count on getting an unbiased opinion. Marketing agencies are full of experts who know what works, and what doesn’t.

When choosing between a marketing manager or agency, it can be hard to know which would be best for your small business. Both options have their own set of advantages, making the decision difficult. At the end of the day, however, it all depends on your company’s culture, goals, and marketing needs. Once you define those things, your answer should become apparent.

Learn the EXACT marketing strategy we use to help small businesses grow: The Flywheel Marketing Method.

Our proven marketing protocol helps companies make more money, free up time, and plan an effective strategy.

Treefrog Marketing is an agency in Lafayette, Indiana focused on small business. We specialize in strategic marketing and advertising, graphic design, web design, social media, SEO, and more. For more information, please visit our website. You can also connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Leverage Kelly’s marketing experience, insights, and leadership to grow your business.

As the founder and chief marketing strategist at Treefrog Marketing, a co-host of the Priority Pursuit Podcast, a StoryBrand Certified Guide, and fractional chief marketing officer, Kelly Rice has spent more than two decades helping small businesses take their companies to the next level by providing trustworthy leadership and building effective marketing strategies and systems.

She has dedicated her career to helping small businesses succeed because she knows, firsthand, how hard they work to make their communities a better place. 

Still, many people undervalue the strength and ingenuity of small businesses, but not Kelly. She believes they deserve to have a marketing partner and strategy that works as hard as they do.

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