Marketing is one of the biggest challenges for small businesses and startups. You have to manage limited resources while trying to grow and engage your customer base.
One of the biggest marketing questions small businesses face is how will I run my marketing?
Do you hire:
- An in-house marketing team or individual?
- A marketing contractor?
- A marketing agency?
There's no one-size-fits-all approach to answering this marketing dilemma, but there are some pros and cons to weigh. This article will explore hiring a marketing contractor vs. in-house marketing vs. marketing agency and why you might consider one over another.
No matter your choice, you'll need to share company or client passwords to give marketing teams access to social media, email marketing software, and other marketing tools.
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Small business owners and startup founders are often wary of hiring people full-time. If you hit hard times, it's easier to cut back on outsourced marketing than finding money to meet payroll—employees come with lots of risk and responsibility!
But an in-house marketing team or individual also brings consistency, reliability, control and makes decisions in the company's best interests rather than their own.
Pros of In-House Marketing
- Speed and flexibility: An in-house marketing team can act faster with a higher degree of consistency than an agency or contractor. Full-time employees are also more likely to go that extra mile to ensure the company succeeds. This flexibility allows you to react quickly to market changes; critical in today's competitive landscape.
- Long-term consistency: Consistency is key to building a marketing strategy with long-term goals—something you'll struggle to achieve with a contractor or agency. Contractors and agency staff come and go, which means you also have to consider the cost of communicating and reiterating your company's mission. An employee will generally stick around for five to ten years, which means you can have one person committed to meeting KPIs for your company's long-term success.
- Security: We're living in an age where cybersecurity poses a massive risk to all companies globally. Contractors and agencies expose companies to security risks. In contrast, owners have far more control over full-time employees so that they can minimize these risks.
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Cons of In-House Marketing
- Responsibility: Full-time employees come with a lot of responsibility! Aside from salary and benefits, you have to consider where they work, tools and equipment, training, what happens during leave (vacation, sick, parental, etc.), company culture, and other factors many business owners don't consider when hiring.
- You need a team: Marketing is a multifaceted industry with social media, copywriting, content creation, email, paid ads, keyword research, and even PR in small businesses. All of these disciplines are full-time jobs alone! Even for a small company, this is a lot of work for one person, so you'll likely have to outsource some work early on.
- Slow to scale: Hiring full-time staff is a slow process, which can take months when you include the interview process and onboarding. These delays could impact how quickly your business can scale, especially during growth spikes.
There is a lot of value in hiring a marketing agency, but there are also several downsides you need to consider.
While you don't have the responsibility of a full-time team member, marketing agencies often lock you into fixed-term contracts that aren't easy to terminate early if you're unhappy with the service.
Pros of a Marketing Agency
- Multifaceted talent: Marketing agencies come with diverse talent, strategies, and ideas. This multifaceted expertise can provide significant value for your company's marketing efforts. Marketing agencies are also in tune with trends, customer behavior, and other market-related conditions.
- Team management: One of the challenges with full-time employees and contractors is that they require a degree of oversight. Marketing agencies manage their staff, so you never have to worry about employee leave, tools and equipment, training, etc. Your marketing campaigns continue 12 months a year without managing teams or people—freeing you to focus on other aspects of your business.
- Scalable & adaptable: Another significant benefit to hiring a marketing agency is that they can quickly scale and adapt as your company grows. Depending on your contract, you can also cut back during slow periods to reduce costs and manage cash flow.
Cons of In-House Marketing
- Can lack consistency: With so many people working on your account, your campaigns' messaging, timing, and branding can lack consistency, especially in the first few months as you build an agency-company relationship. You also have no control over who works on your account or when the agency swaps staff—which could lead to inconsistencies or delays.
- Billable hours: Marketing agencies generally charge by the hour, allocating your campaigns a set amount of time per week. While agencies are usually pretty efficient, this time allocation limits your ability to make fast changes or push that little extra when required.
- Lack flexibility: Marketing often requires you to act fast to changes or opportunities as they present themselves, which can be challenging when working with an agency. You can't ask agency employees to work overtime to take advantage of opportunities or challenges. Additionally, changing a campaign usually requires you to go through a chain of communication at the marketing agency to get authorization or sign off on additional costs.
- High-security risk: While it's great to have a team of people working on your campaigns, marketing agencies significantly increase your security risk. You'll have little or no control over who has access to your company's digital assets or how marketing agencies share passwords.
One way to mitigate this security risk is to use TeamPassword. Allocate a separate login for each person from the agency working on your account, and share your passwords through TeamPassword's password manager. Sharing credentials with agencies this way gives you more control and reduces your password vulnerabilities.
A marketing contractor provides a good balance between agency and full-time employee. You get the intimacy of an employee-employer relationship without the responsibility of a full-time team member.
Pros of a Marketing Contractor
- Experienced specialist: Marketing contractors come with a wealth of specialist experience. You can also hire different contractors to fulfill specific tasks and roles, so you get high-value expertise for all your marketing efforts.
- Flexible contracts: Marketing contractors generally have flexible (often verbal) agreements that you can terminate without notice. You also don't have to worry about benefits, salaries, taxes, etc.
Cons of a Marketing Contractor
- Lack of skills: Most marketing contractors are specialists, which is great for specific tasks, but it could be a problem if you don't have the resources for multiple freelancers!
- Availability: Marketing contractors often have several clients, and unlike agencies, they don't have the staffing to manage their calendar, meaning they're only available during specific days or times.
Cost Considerations for Types of Marketing
One thing we haven't mentioned in any of the pros and cons of marketing contractor vs. in-house marketing vs. marketing agency is cost. Cost is difficult to quantify because there are ways to save or overspend with all three options.
- What resources do you already have to complement in-house marketing (i.e., graphic designer, copywriter, content creators, developers)? If you already have a small team, adding a full-time marketing director might be more valuable and cost-effective than a contractor or agency.
- A marketing agency with a diverse team will give you the highest value with minimal cost if you only have a small budget. They'll also have add-ons and extras to help you scale.
- A US-based marketing contractor can be cost-effective if you only need them a few hours a week. But they usually charge more per hour than a full-time employee or agency. If you need a lot of marketing work, a marketing contractor might work out the most expensive option.
Password Security for Internal & External Teams
Most small businesses and startups hire a mix of in-house and outsourced team members. One of the challenges in this mixed environment is sharing passwords with coworkers.
Many small businesses use unsecure methods like email, chat, spreadsheets, or digital notes to share credentials. These unsecured sharing methods expose companies (including clients, employees, and users) to attacks.
We designed TeamPassword to solve this password management problem for small businesses.
With affordable plans, easy onboarding, multiple ways to log in, and robust security, TeamPassword is the best password manager for small businesses managing internal and external teams.
Here is a quick overview of our password manager:
- Accessible everywhere: use our browser extensions (Firefox, Chrome, Safari) or mobile app (iOS, Android) to log into accounts.
- Groups & sharing: create groups to share credentials with various teams. Only provide access to those who need it and easily revoke access with a single click!
- Robust passwords: a built-in password generator lets you create unique, secure passwords for every account.
- Two-factor authentication (2FA): each team member can set up 2FA using Google Authenticator to add an extra layer of security for their TeamPassword account.
- Activity Logging & Notifications: TeamPassword tracks every team member's activity, so you can keep track of movements and identify suspicious activity. You can also set up email notifications for instant alerts to your most sensitive data and accounts.
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