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Should I Hire an In-House Digital Marketing Specialist or Ta…

The digital marketing landscape is changing at a rapid pace, with many organizations planning to up their budgets and diversify their tactics in the coming years. In fact, according to Forrester research, CMOs will spend nearly $119 billion on search marketing, display advertising, online video and email marketing by 2021.

“Over the next five years, search will lose share to display and social advertising while video will scale,” Forrester said. “These changes reflect a new emphasis on quality over quantity, a dynamic that will reintroduce human intervention into programmatic ad buying, turn marketers into growth hackers, and put long-tail publishers out of business.”

To keep pace with these trends and take advantage of growth opportunities, many marketers are wondering how they can best leverage their resources, tools and budgets. As a result, a question that has likely come up is: Should we make a new in-house hire to achieve our goals or is an agency partnership a better fit?

As we close in on two decades of work in the digital marketing realm, our experience tells us there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Every organization is at a different digital marketing maturity level, which requires a tailored approach in order to scale their initiatives and drive results.

So, before your post a job req or sign an agreement with an agency, ask yourself the following questions:

#1 – What are my marketing objectives?

Your goals are the foundation of your marketing strategy, guiding every decision and tactic that comes next. As a result, evaluating your goals is a critical first step in weighing your hiring options. Essentially, you need to consider whether an agency or new in-house talent can put you in the best position to reach your goals.

#2 – What kind of expertise am I looking to add to the team?

Generally speaking, most digital marketers have highly-specific skill sets. So, if your strategy calls for adding or expanding a specific area of expertise such as video production or graphic design, hiring in-house may be a great option.

However, if you’re looking for a jack of all trades, an agency will definitely be better equipped. Why? Because you’ll be able to leverage a team of highly-specialized experts at once.

#3 – How niche is my industry?

This one can cut both ways. If your organization is part of a highly-niche industry, you can certainly bring someone in who already has related experience or can be nurtured as an internal subject matter expert. That said, agencies are staffed with fast-learning individuals who can fill the SME role, too. So, this one may come down to preference and bandwidth.

#4 – What’s the bandwidth of my current in-house team?

Your current in-house team likely has a big workload and/or lacks the specific expertise needed to achieve specific goals. So, if you’re looking to ease their burden or diversify a specific area of talent, hiring in-house talent is a great option — as long as you can commit the training, nurturing and management resources.

If you’re looking for a more hands-off option or can’t commit resources to managing an in-house hire, an agency will likely be a better fit. Hiring in-house typically requires more time and resources to make them successful (i.e. onboarding and ongoing training), whereas hiring an agency could give you more flexibility. In addition, agencies can often take on short-term projects with tight deadlines.

#5 – What’s my budget?

Your budget likely has the final say in your decision-making process. So, using your answers to the previous questions, think about how you can best stretch that budget. Does it make financial sense to add new team members or to outsource to an agency?

Get A Little Help in Answering These Questions

You know you need to make a hire to achieve your goals. And it’s a big decision. If you’re wondering what an agency can bring to the table, we’d love to chat with you. You tell us your hopes, wishes, dreams, goals and needs, and we’ll give you options and honesty.


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