One of the most common questions I get from businesses who are trying to grow is that they’re not sure whether to hire in-house for a role or hire an agency.
My answer is that they’ll eventually hire both, but that isn’t helpful with determining who to hire first.
In this video you are going to learn:
- The revenue under which it makes sense for the founder to own marketing and work with an agency
- Between what revenue a founder should hire in-house instead of an agency
- What to consider when thinking about in-house vs an agency.
So here is my take on how to think through this conundrum.
Hey, what’s going on y’all, John from Credo here.
So I’m out here on my morning walk through the neighborhoods is something I started doing a few days ago. It’s just nice to get out and move the legs and breathe a little bit and, you know, see some nature before getting into work. I usually just listen to podcasts, but I was listening to one this morning and it kind of jogged my memory on a few conversations that I’ve had recently about hiring and who you should hire.
People ask me a lot, they go like, “oh, should I hire a marketing agency? Or should I hire someone in-house?” I saw today that a question was asked where their paid ads strategist was moving on from their company. And so they were like, “Well, should we replace them or should we hire a digital agency? And if so, does anyone know a digital agency that has proven B2B SaaS experience?”
Yes. Hi! I’m John. I’m Founder of GetCredo.com.
But the other thing that I realized about all this is that a lot of times when people ask me this, they’re kind of wondering, like should I hire an agency or should I hire someone in-house?
And usually, the answer is both. But that doesn’t really help, because it doesn’t really help you strategize who to hire and when.
So here’s how I think about it.
If you’re hiring or you’re looking to kind of scale up your social ads, or your paid ads, or your SEO, or whatever, there’s kind of two things you need to think about. And that it starts with
- who owns it?
- Who owns it internally?
And if you’re a founder doing under, let’s say half a million a year, it should be you. You’re probably the marketer as well. It should be you, but also recognize that you’re going to be the person now, that it’s not just going to be you doing the marketing, but you’re going to have to manage these people. Y
ou’re going to have to project manage them, you’re going to have to hold them to account, you have to do weekly calls with them. It’s like hiring a full-time person. And it’s doable at that size.
But if you’re doing over that, if you’re doing let’s say 2 million a year, a million and a half, 2 million a year, something like that, basically between 500K and a million and a half, I say, hire someone in-house.
Once you’re over that, then my advice is to have that person then hire an agency. From that half a mil to a million and a half, 2 million, they’re probably working with some freelancers, which is great. That’s absolutely what you should do, just to kind of get the things done.
But at some point, you need more scale and it doesn’t make sense to keep hiring a bunch of freelancers. I might as well get all of their time, right? Or get all of a couple of people’s time and bring them in-house, or you can hire a full team at an agency for basically the same cost as hiring one or two in-house people.
So the cost economics can make a lot of sense. Really, the thing that you have to think about when it comes to all of this, is who is responsible for it?
Who’s going to be owning the relationship?
Because you can’t just hire an agency, say, “Go do some ads things” and expect them to perform. You have to have the performance metrics that you’re going after, you have to manage them, you have to work with them through the creative, you have to work them through the messaging, you have to work them through the copy, you have to work with them through the landing pages. All of that.
There’s a lot of work that goes into it.
And you’re likely looking to hire because you, the Founder, are busy. Or you, the Marketing Director are busy. Which, if you’re the founder and you’re super busy, hire that full-time person so that they can keep owning it. And they eventually, if and when they need scale, they can hire the agency and work with them directly and just report up to you. They’re responsible for the metrics.
If you’re the marketing director, it’s like adding another person onto your team. And maybe you have a coordinator like a marketing coordinator or someone like that, kind of a generalist marketer, who can manage the agency, because at some point you’re probably going to get to like, you know, you grow enough, you’re going to get to where it’s not just going to be one person on your marketing team.
There’s not just going to be one person on your marketing team or one person kind of owning a bunch of things, but actually you have multiple people on the team, someone owning social, someone owning paid, someone owning SEO, content brand, et cetera. And each of them is going to work with a different agency, probably, and you don’t want to be that person that’s doing that.
So I hope that’s helpful to you.
If I can recap it all real quick. If you’re a founder doing under half a million a year, hiring an agency is fine. You’re probably going to want an agency over freelancers, simply because you probably got an account manager, and if you’re not paying for an account manager, you are the account manager. Secondly, if you’re a founder, a marketing director, your business is doing over about a million and a half, 2 million a year, you should have someone full-time, that’s owning it. And so hire that person.
But if you’re kind of going from that half million to a million and a half or so, my advice is to hire someone in-house. As a friend of mine recently told me, hire the most expensive marketing person you can afford and keep them on a short leash, show them this is where we’re going, this is what we’re doing, I need you to run these processes, I need you to basically take it and operate it and grow it. And if we need to adjust strategy, we talk about it together, because I’m still the founder, I’m still ultimately responsible, thinking of getting another job, I’m going to start another company, this one doesn’t work.
So that is my advice for you on hiring. Hope that helped.