Hire an agency or hire full time?

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

You’ve decided that you need to focus on marketing (because it doesn’t matter if you have a great product if nobody knows about it) — how do you decide whether to outsource the work or hire someone outright to manage your marketing 24/7?

It’s tricky, and the annoying answer is — ‘it depends’. It depends on whether you understand marketing and how involved/much effort you’re going to put into it (after the hire).

If you don’t know anything about marketing, you should really hire an agency. You need someone to tell you what to do, and more importantly why you need to do it. The problem with hiring a full-time marketer is that if you don’t know anything about marketing, you don’t know what this person should or shouldn’t be doing (and unless they’re a superstar, they won’t know what to spend their time doing either). Hiring only works if they’re being managed properly, too often people hire quickly and fire quickly because they’re not getting the results they want — and it’s usually because nobody knows what this marketer is supposed to do or achieve.


If you understand that value of marketing but don’t know what or how to achieve it, you want to hire an agency. An agency can help figure out a strategy, and put their resources in place to help your company where help is needed the most (Graphic design? Content creation? Ad buying? SEO?).

While it’s still advisable that you have someone in charge of managing the agency (there are too many agencies out there taking advantage of innocent clients), you can get a lot more value out of your dollar.

The benefit of hiring an agency is really in the ability to tap into experts in various fields — the cost of outright hiring a creative director, media specialist or photographer is something only a large company can do (expensive, and you probably wouldn’t be able to maximise their time).

When hiring an agency, look out for who will actually be managing your account on the agency side. You want to make sure that your account isn’t being managed by junior staff, but people who understand the pains of your company and what marketing is supposed to address. They should be able to tell you where time and money should be focused on (Organic traffic? Paid traffic?) and how everything ultimately converts to a return for the business.

If you just want the job done right, hire an agency.


If you’re very familiar with marketing and have a clear idea and direction of what you want to achieve with this headcount. If you’re looking for someone to manage your social media, it makes sense to hire someone full-time. Same thing if you’re in eCommerce and looking for content creation support on a very regular basis.

If you’re a larger company and need support in managing a range of different resources (internal and external), again it makes sense to hire someone full-time. That person will be someone that can grow along with your company.

And if you’re a super hands-on person — hire, because you probably won’t be happy if they’re not sitting next to you.

Most important it makes sense if you can fill this person’s workday everyday. Otherwise, it makes more sense to outsource it.

HOWEVER, take note that it’s very hard to find someone that is good at all things marketing, they exist but are very expensive (for good reason). You will however find many great candidates who are experts in their respective fields (CRM, SEO/SEM, social media, etc.)

In most cases, hire an agency first. It’s ultimately more economical and you get more from your spend. It might seem more expensive, but to get the same value out of a hire is actually more more costly (not even taking into account if the hire doesn’t work out).

There’s often the fear that agencies are expensive and hires are cheap. Yes and yes. But you have to take into account the value you can get out of each. Cheap hires are cheap for a reason.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by 337,320+ people.

Subscribe to receive our top stories here.