18 Mar 2024

Agencies, Freelancers, and In-House Marketing Departments: Pros, Cons and What You Need to Know 

Once your brand hits a certain peak point, you’ll need some help if you want growth to remain sustainable. Now, the question is, what kind of help? 

It’s a question we’ve been asked many times, across many different conference tables and Zoom meetings and in conversation with potential clients of all shapes and sizes. And yes, we know what you’re thinking – that we’re always going to point you in the direction of an agency because we are one. 

Surprisingly, no. 

Sometimes, we recognize that a freelancer would better fit for a niche industry or a specific company. Other times, we realize that we simply don’t have the bandwidth to take on the job of entire marketing department that a larger brand might have at their disposal. 

For instance, while encite has photographers that we contract with when our clients need assistance with photography among other things. But if someone came to us and just needed high-quality product shots, we would probably point them in the direction of one of our trusted, capable contacts that could better help them with this specific tasks. 

So, when it comes to your company, what would we recommend? Well, let’s walk through the options and see what fits. 


Average Cost: $50-200 per hour (depending on skills and experience)

The Pros: Freelancers tend to bring a fresh perspective and a new vision to projects and strategies that have remained relatively stagnant for years. They’re also flexible, adaptable, and in general do a great job at keeping up with the latest trends, because they’re constantly trying to market not only their clients, but themselves better. 

The Cons: On their own, freelancers just aren’t equipped to handle the needs of larger clients with bigger budgets and higher expectations. There also tends to be a slight uptick in missed deadlines, a lack of commitment and even potential security threats when dealing with freelancers, simply because there is a lack of ownership to the work and no personal stake in the company. 

In-House Hire 

Average Cost: $45k-150k per year (depending on the complexity of the job) 

The Pros: First and foremost, companies have more creative control when they have their own in-house marketing teams. Things are also generally more transparent, because there is no outside contractor or agency to coordinate with. And, as mentioned above, people who work for a company and work exclusively on that company’s marketing materials and strategy tend to feel more emotional ‘buy-in’. 

The Cons: On the other side of the argument, companies with in-house marketing departments also tend to inadvertently limit themselves – both in terms of the number of team members they can actually afford to keep on staff and the resources they have to offer them. And, from a more philosophical perspective, they limit their exposure to shared learning opportunities and the value of seeing a problem from someone else’s point of view. 


Average Cost: $900-20k per month (B2B companies generally spend 2-5% of annual revenue on marketing, while B2C companies allocate around 6-14%) 

The Pros: While the higher end of that average cost might seem pretty steep, in the scheme of things, hiring a marketing agency is generally the most cost-effective of the three options. With the higher level of expertise you can expect from a team of professionals, access to the latest technology and tools that can keep track of your goals and success metrics, and a modernized, customizable approach to your marketing strategies, you really are getting a great bang for your buck. 

The Cons: We’re not exactly spilling the beans when we tell you that agencies work with multiple clients, so you won’t be their first priority 100% of the time. But hey, it’s all about expectations. If you’re expecting an agency to drop everything to make a last-minute cosmetic change, you’re probably going to be disappointed. And, as we spoke to earlier, you are giving up a certain level of control – but we prefer to think of that as just putting more trust into a process that actually tends to yield better results when it’s more collaborative. 

Okay, so what now? 

Ask yourself some questions, and get to know your brand inside and out. 

What are your goals? Where do you want to be five years from now? Are you just breaking onto the scene, or are you looking to build on an already solid foundation of customer loyalty? Do you want to keep things local, or make national or even global expansion a priority? Do you have one problem that you need a quick solution to, or are you looking for a long-term partner? 

Your answers to questions like these will help guide your decisions when it comes to the priorities of your unique business and how to best facilitate growth.

Interested in working with us? Let’s talk. 


I’m Sophie Mann, and I work at encite branding + marketing + creative as Vice President of Strategy. My job entails a continuous study of business, marketing, data and culture, all in the name of driving strategy forward. I’m passionate about helping brands resonate more strongly with their consumers and communicate with their ideal clients. I’m also a proud graduate of the University of Kansas - Rock Chalk!

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