dark·​room | \ ˈdärk-ˌrüm  , -ˌru̇m \



: A darkroom refers to a space where art and science come together to create something complete before premiering to the public. It’s where process and creativity combine to form a final product.


This is why we’ve chosen it as our name.

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The Pros and Cons of Hiring a Marketing Agency vs. Taking Things In-House

June 2020


No matter what type of products or services you sell, no matter how big you want your company to become, every business relies on marketing. It’s how you build awareness, acquire customers  and most importantly, make sales.

Naturally, when you are beginning to think about selling your product or service, the question then becomes, who should take care of your marketing? While some entrepreneurs have prior marketing experience that they can draw from, many do not or do not have the time or expertise to sell product at scale. In many cases, most business owners are most effective focusing on improving their products and services and leaving the advertising work to specialists.

Ultimately, your marketing options come down to two main choices. You can either handle things in-house, or you can hire a marketing agency. Both options come with their pros and cons. Here are some important issues to consider so you can make an informed decision.

Advertising Expertise

At first glance, the level of expertise between in-house and agency marketers would seem to be about the same. After all, they both bring extensive experience running advertising campaigns, which can help grow your business.

However, a closer look at the nuances of agency vs. in-house work reveal this isn’t necessarily the case. A report from Ad Age found that 45 percent of in-house marketers noted having trouble staying on top of industry trends. 43 percent said in-house work lacked creative innovation.

This seems expected. While many in house marketers become focused on their industry, making sales and acquiring new customers can become repeticie. Agencies can draw from multi disciplinary experiences working from a variety of clients in different industries, drawing on different situations to come up with creative revenue-generating solutions.

For one thing, ad agencies permit creatives to work on more than one account, which is often appealing to creatives. Secondly, as ad budgets on the marketer side tighten and expectations are set, agencies are employed to perform and, thus, push the barrier to come up with creative solutions that draw results. Here at Darkroom, our number one priority is relentlessly driving results for our clients. Oftentimes that requires a team of creative thinkers (all of which have multi faceted expertise across advertising, creative, and conversion rate optimization) to strategize and execute.

With that, and because agencies offer more varied and engaging work, they also have a tendency to attract the best and brightest the industry has to offer. We only look for and employ the best creatives and marketers who are top performers.

Level of Control and Information Sharing

For business owners who want a greater level of control over their marketing team, in-house could be the better route. An in-house team is more tightly engrained with your business culture. It is far easier to monitor their work and ensure that everything remains fully compliant with your vision for your company.

While you will certainly offer guidance and input to your agency, you don’t have the same level of day to day control. Not working in the same office could also mean that communications will sometimes be slower than with an in-office team. And oftentimes an agency will guide you on recommended marketing tactics insead of the other way around.

There may be a bit of a learning curve as the agency comes to understand your culture. However, this could also help them come up with more creative and innovative work.

The ability to easily share information could influence how intimately your marketing team comes to know and understand your brand. Both options can meet your expectations — it just depends on how much control you feel like you need.

Partnerships and Opportunities

Another important advantage of working with an advertising agency is that it already has a wide range of tools and partnerships that it can leverage to enhance your marketing opportunities. This is especially true of agencies that offer specialized marketing services, like paid social ads or email marketing.

Agencies already have the latest software and tools to maximize the effectiveness of campaigns. They have access to high-level partnerships and more in-depth research to ensure that your ad spend is being used as effectively as possible.

Because advertising is literally everything certain agencies do (and there are a lot who do this but do not drive results), they are constantly on the lookout for the latest trends, software and techniques that will help them improve outcomes for all their clients. The ability to have dedicated specialists assigned to different marketing tasks ensures a better ROI than having a generalist try to handle everything.

While an in-house team can certainly follow current trends, they may not have the budget to immediately adopt the most up-to-date tools and techniques. Perhaps most importantly, an agency brings an outside perspective to your business, in part thanks to their work with other clients. An objective, external view makes it easier to identify opportunities and challenges that those working in-house might overlook.

Understand the True Cost

Some businesses think that it would be more expensive to hire a marketing agency than to work with an in-house team. But this is a very inaccurate take.

Just consider the cost of employees. According to U.S. News & World Report, marketing managers have a median salary of $134,290. That’s just for the manager position. Add in the cost of social media specialists, graphic designers, copy writers and other crucial roles, and your expenses quickly pile up.

In-house marketing costs begin before your team even gets to work. After all, you have to spend money to recruit top talent to your company. And if you lose an employee, you’ll need to find a replacement. According to Employee Benefit News, the costs of recruiting, hiring and onboarding a replacement average about 33 percent of the former employee’s annual salary.

With a marketing agency, on the other hand, you have much greater control over how your marketing dollars are spent. Most agencies have tiered pricing plans, allowing you to direct your spending in accordance with what your budget will allow. One report from Entrepreneur notes that on average, monthly retainer contracts start as low as $1,000. Premier agencies come in higher but generate better returns for you that you can immediately measure. This means you know the value that you are paying for, which normally comes in substantially lower than an in-house team.

Should You Stay In-House or Use a Marketing Agency?

Now, I admit that my career choice leads me to be somewhat biased toward hiring a marketing agency rather than trying to build an in-house team from scratch. But while both options have their pros and cons, I do feel strongly that for most, working with a marketing agency (for most SMBs) is ultimately going to be the most cost-effective option.

At the end of the day, though, the decision is up to you. By evaluating the differences between these options and deciding what you most want to get from your marketing campaigns, you will be better equipped to make a decision that best helps your company’s bottom line.

*  Image Credit:

–   Featured Image, Pexels


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