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To Hire a Marketing Agency or Go It Alone – How to Get the Balance Right

As a Director of an online marketing agency, it would figure that I’d be partial to people outsourcing their marketing. But the reality is that a lot of the time, it simply isn’t the right option to outsource all of their marketing to an agency.

The reasons that companies might look to onboard an agency have also changed over time, with strategies becoming more reliant on below-the-line in even the biggest brands, with everyone looking to get value from their budget.

New technologies and channels to market are emerging all the time that mean marketers are increasingly relying on external knowledge in order to master these technologies and resources to deliver an effective campaign through them.

What follows is an overview of the ideal marketing team that is needed to run a successful inbound campaign to help you identify any weaknesses that you currently have both internally and with external agencies.

The T-Shaped Marketer

The days of one maverick marketer going it alone and smashing results are now gone. There are simply too many channels, too many disciplines for one person to have the expertise on every element that needs to be considered.

That’s not to say that you can’t have a knowledge in every area of your marketing strategy, but it’s simply too time consuming to have the in-depth knowledge to offer critical insight as a lone wolf.

There has been talk over the past couple of years of the “T-Shaped Web Marketer” which develops this concept further and can be applied out into the wider marketing world.


The principle of the T-Shaped marketer involves having a deep knowledge of one or two fields, but a basic working knowledge across a number of overlapping disciplines. This gives the marketer the ability to have a specific area of expertise, but see it in the context of the wider marketing effort.

This is where having a wider team comes into play, and it is the building of this team that the marketer needs to consider when looking at where they need to onboard an agency. Which areas of expertise are you lacking not only in your delivery, but in your strategic team?

The Pack


So what does the ideal team look like? At Fresh Source Digital we utilise a team of four T-shaped marketers across our accounts, each with an in-depth knowledge of their specific sector but with the ability to see the bigger picture.

These experts can be made up solely of our agency team or a mixture of our team and internal marketers within the client’s team depending on budget and level of internal capability.

Campaign Strategist

The glue that holds the project together, the campaign strategist will be an expert in inbound marketing and be heavily involved in the research phase and pulling in the pieces from the other members of the team.

We find that this is where clients get the most value from us and we will insist that this part of the team is within the agency if any payment by results metrics are in place.

Editorial Strategist

From on-boarding writers to getting the tone of voice right, completing tender documents to producing landing page copy – the editorial strategist has to plan and execute the copy that will turn visitors into customers.

Channel Strategist

It’s no good producing web copy, videos and webinars without the right routes to market to promote them. The channel strategist will have a deep knowledge of search, social media and paid opportunities that will ensure that what is produced will be seen and engaged with by a  targeted audience.

Creative Director

The Creative Director will give their vision and direction to the project and will know what will work best across each online channel. From user experience to eGuide layout, website design and video production techniques, the Creative Director will be able to sculpt and mould a vision that not only looks great but delivers on performance.

The central team is supported by a network of specialist writers, designers and developers where required who will be responsible for implementing the plans designed by the central team.

So where does that leave us when looking at what to outsource to a marketing agency? When preparing any inbound marketing campaign or content marketing program, consider the following:

  1. What strategic expertise do we already have in-house? Which of the four areas are we lacking in? This central strategic expertise is essential if you’re going to succeed across campaign strategy, creative excellence, channel distribution and editorial brilliance

  2. If you have any gaps in this expertise in-house, you should be looking to fill them with agency brains.

  3. If you have the knowledge, time and expertise to run a full inbound campaign internally, then look to bring in specific design or channel experience to bolster your team.

  4. If you’re working across a number of disciplines, look to get a specialist inbound lead generation agency in to run the campaign and manage all of the components

When you’re ready to kick off your inbound campaign, you will usually have a blend of in-house and agency experts that will make a formidable team, enabling you to create a successful lead generation program for your organisation.

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