Build It or Buy It

Written by Matthew Ludden / March 19, 2024 / 12 Minute Read
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To grow and flourish, business leaders benefit from building relationships with external experts. Hiring a marketing agency requires more than an ability to execute tactics and check off boxes. Building a symbiotic relationship with your marketers achieves innovative strategies that fuel mutual goals.


How Hiring a Marketing Agency Can Create Growth

Strategic decision-making is crucial for any business, but it becomes essential during periods of transformation and growth. 

During these times, business leaders need the wisdom to make choices that propel the company forward and generate momentum.

Choosing whether to build your own internal marketing team or hire a marketing agency depends on what you are trying to achieve.

In the book Here We Grow, Marcia Barnes argues, “Decisions related to whether to handle marketing internally or externally need to focus on an approach to build measurable, repeatable, scalable, and profitable growth.”

Yet marketing analytics only influence 53% of decisions. (Gartner)

Sustainable marketing models transform the way businesses think about go-to-market planning. When all segments of the business strive toward a unified goal, outside partners can accelerate your progress.

At Valve+Meter Performance Marketing, we consult with business leaders poised for growth and driven to achieve sustainable results.

Our approach relies on research, data, and a curated approach to marketing: Everything is a hypothesis.

Ultimately, determining whether to build a team or hire a marketing agency depends upon a thorough assessment of your current situation, an understanding of how to develop and execute performance marketing strategies, and clear goals. 

In this article, the strategists at Valve+Meter consider:

  • Decision factors: What criteria should leaders consider when building marketing strategies?
  • When To Build: What are the benefits and challenges of taking direct control?
  • When To Buy: How can collaborations with outside partners be mutually beneficial?
  • Essential expertise: Insights from Valve+Meter on how the expertise every business needs to thrive in competitive markets.

Decision Factors

When considering whether to develop a team or hire a marketing agency, consider a few key questions:

  • Is the current marketing structure and processes delivering measurable goals that grow the business?
  • Are there new business goals?
  • How will changes to the team strengthen our marketing methodology?
  • Does our leadership know how to manage marketing?

Business Acumen Versus Marketing Leadership

Each of these questions provokes the critical difference between building a business and developing a result-driven marketing methodology.

Let’s examine that final question in detail.

Leading a business requires strength in sales, operations, and finance, but leading marketing demands a different set of skills.

Business acumen focuses on reducing costs of materials, production, and other services to increase profits.

Marketing measures cost relative to results.

The aim of marketing is to buy all of the available market share while hitting acceptable return on marketing spend.

In other words, marketing leaders focus on generating the most impactful results. Putting a sales team in charge of marketing decisions often results in low-cost marketing tactics that may not deliver the desired results.

When your company grows, you need strong marketing leadership with the right mindset to achieve your business goals.

Aligning Business Goals and Marketing Objectives: A Shift In Perspective

Many business owners and CEOs adopt an adversarial position with marketing companies. This may be due to setting the wrong marketing goals or using the wrong metrics to measure a successful marketing campaign.

If your marketing objectives do not align with your business goals, you cannot thrive.

Marcia Barnes writes, “A good marketing agency will help you evaluate where your business is at, determine what goals to aim for, and set up realistic expectations about the resources your need to grow.”

Valve+Meter believes in symbiotic relationships between marketing, sales, operations, and finance. When one of our partner businesses achieves marketing-attributable revenue, both the business and our marketing firm succeed.

Marketing captures intent and generates demand, sales closes deals, and finance invests in the most effective marketing programs.

The internet shattered the myth that sales and marketing operate independently.

When was the last time a consumer contacted your business before searching Google?

Whether you are building an internal marketing team or hiring a marketing agency, aligning all departments around a unified goal is vital to building sustainable strategies.

Scalable, Profitable Growth

Marketing is not a win-at-all-cost endeavor. In developing a results-based mindset, leaders embrace the philosophy that there is an unlimited budget for marketing that works.

Many marketing agencies and most business owners miss that relative clause. Marketing that works can be measured, optimized, repeated, and scaled.

Building an internal marketing team requires leaders, specialists in marketing channels, and data analysts to make the tech stack to measure results. Finding that talent, providing ongoing training, and investing in the necessary tools and technology are significant challenges.

Consider the elements for building a marketing team:

  • Business Strategy
  • Buying Strategies
  • Tactics
  • Brand Management
  • Tech
  • Speed of Change

Hiring a marketing agency can offer immediate expertise in all of these elements and deliver more flexibility than an internal team.

A marketing company offers proficiency across various marketing channels and allows you to tap into a broad range of skills immediately.

 The Right Choice for Your Business

Ultimately, the decision to build or buy comes down to evaluating your business’s specific needs, goals, and resources.

If you have a clear vision for your marketing strategy and the capacity to build and manage a dedicated team, then developing an in-house marketing department might be the right move.

Generally, larger companies choose to build, and smaller companies hire a marketing company.

As technology rapidly advances, generalities are being scrutinized. Outsourcing all or a fraction of your digital marketing services can be a more cost-effective, flexible solution for businesses of all sizes.

In either case, continuously monitor your marketing performance and make adjustments as needed to ensure you achieve your business objectives.

Lack of Strategy 50%
50% of small businesses do not have a formal marketing strategy. (Search Engine Journal)
Resource Allocation 86%
Among those same leaders, 86% would rather spend their time on other business activities than on marketing.

When to Build A Internal Team

The companies best positioned to succeed start with exceptionally strong marketing leadership. A marketing leader, such as a CMO, director, or manager, must understand the marketing methodology that feeds the Flywheel Effect.

With clearly defined objectives and a well-developed marketing strategy, leaders can attract talent and continuously nurture specialists’ skills.

At Valve+Meter, our partners’ access dedicated subject matter experts who function as a fractional marketing department. Building marketing should include each of the following according to your needs:

  • Designers: Visual designers create brand standards and designs for your website, paid advertising, brochures, sales collateral, and other marketing materials.
  • Developers: Professionals build and maintain websites using a variety of programming languages and technologies.
  • Content Creators: Writers and other creatives specialize in text, images, videos, and other content across your marketing.
  • SEO Specialists: With expertise in how Google and other search engines discover and rank websites, SEO professionals ensure your brand is discoverable online.
  • Paid Media Analysts: To increase your return on marketing spend, paid analysts study platforms and buy advertising that drives results.
  • Other Specialties: Social media, email marketing, business development representatives, video marketers, and others may be required to fill out your internal team.

In the best-case scenario, a well-staffed internal marketing team delivers the right returns and ensures every campaign runs smoothly. 

High-performing internal teams offer benefits throughout your business, such as:

  • Alignment with Company Goals: A dedicated team can ensure marketing campaigns closely align with company objectives, brand standards, and culture.
  • Agility: An internal team can quickly adapt to market changes and shift to launch new services or products.
  • Excellence: Highly talented and skilled marketing professionals can surpass goals and increase profit margins like other business units.

Challenges of an Internal Marketing Team

Building an internal marketing team presents challenges distinct from those encountered when relying solely on outsourcing. The most apparent challenges are hiring talent and managing scale.

Specialization vs. Generalization

In today’s marketing landscape, the sheer number of channels and tactics available is staggering. Even marketing agencies confront the challenge of finding, developing, and retaining talent.

From web design to search engine optimization, content marketing to paid advertising, there are so many different specializations that no one person can be an expert at everything.

When assembling an internal team, businesses often gravitate towards hiring generalists—individuals who have a broad understanding of various marketing disciplines. While this approach has its merits, it also has limitations.

Generalists may be able to manage a range of tasks competently, but specialists will always hold an advantage.This can lead to suboptimal results, as the nuances of each marketing channel demand deep knowledge to earn the best results.

Risk of Dependence

Another challenge is the risk of dependence on a single subject matter expert. When a business’s marketing success hinges on the skills and knowledge of one individual, it becomes vulnerable.

What if that person decides to leave the company?

Suddenly, the organization is left scrambling to fill the void, potentially losing momentum and facing a steep learning curve with a new hire.

This scenario underscores the importance of building a complete team with a diverse range of skills to mitigate the risk of over-reliance on any one individual.

Cost vs. Results

In the pursuit of cost-effective marketing solutions, it’s tempting to reduce costs through hiring.

To reiterate, a sales, operations, and finance mindset can create a false economy in marketing. Investing in quality marketing efforts, even if they come with a higher price tag, can yield better returns in the long run.

Continuously evaluated your needs, prioritizing specialization where necessary, and ensuring that you are making decisions that align your long-term goals.


While there are benefits to having an internal marketing team, there are also trade-offs that need to be considered.

Building an internal marketing team offers advantages in terms of alignment and responsiveness, but your business must be resolute and prepared for the inevitable challenges related to hiring, turnover, and staying up-to-date with industry trends.

When to Buy: Considering Outsourcing

From the perspective of a digital marketing company that serves hundreds of businesses, outsourcing strengthens nearly all organizations.

Developing an in-house team for essential elements of your go-to-market strategy is a prudent choice. And shrewd business and marketing leaders use outsourcing to gain a competitive advantage.

Goals Exceeding Resources

From small businesses to enterprise corporations, outsourcing to trusted partners is a crucial strategy when business goals exceed your internal resources.

While inertia is common, it becomes a weakness when leaders fail to proactively address challenges.

For a small business to move from good to great, hiring a marketing agency can provide the additional horsepower needed to bridge that gap and drive your marketing efforts forward.

Even large internal marketing teams can find distinct advantages that break inertia and push your marketing goals forward.

Missing Insights 1/2
Marketing analytics only influence 53% of decisions. (Gartner)
CRMs 78%
CRMs effectively improve alignment between sales and marketing teams, according to 78% of sales leaders. (Hubspot)

How To Hire A Marketing Agency

The two primary factors in choosing the best marketing company to serve your business are expertise and trustworthiness.

Many marketing companies have the talent and tools to execute competent services, but hiring a marketing agency is like hiring a new employee.

The right marketing partners operate as an extension of your business.

Finding an agency partner that provides expertise across all marketing channels and understands your business’s goals, long-term vision, and expectations is essential.

To recruit a marketing agency, start with these steps:

Step 1: Identify your needs: Determine the specific marketing services you require and what you hope to achieve by working with an agency.

Many business owners look to an agency for leadership and marketing expertise. More experienced businesses with a marketing manager or head of marketing may use an outside partner for strategy and execution.

Some digital marketing agencies operate as fractional CMOs, while others offer fractional services. Knowing what you need before contacting a prospective agency partner is essential.

Do you only need paid advertising analysts to execute pay-per-click and Google Local Services Ads campaigns?

Do you handle inbound marketing in-house and need a team of business development representatives for outbound lead generation?

Or do you need a marketing partner that serves as your complete marketing department, including a marketing director who reports directly to you?

Finding the right digital marketing agency becomes more efficient and effective when you know what marketing activities you need.

Step Two: Conduct research: Look for marketing agencies that specialize in the specific services you need and have experience in your industry.

Hiring a marketing agency experienced in your industry streamlines your long-term success.

In a rapidly evolving digital marketing landscape, many agencies may claim expertise in all the services you need, but different industries require distinct skill sets.

One example is content writing. Hiring a marketing company without staff writers familiar with your industry can impact the authenticity and accuracy of your web pages, blogs, video scripts, email marketing, advertising campaigns, and other marketing assets.

Another example is website architecture. Designing and developing a website – even for a small business – requires industry-specific skills and knowledge. For B2B enterprise websites and e-commerce platforms, hire a marketing agency with a proven track record.

Knowing your marketing needs streamlines the search for the right digital marketing agency, saving you time and effort.

Step 3: Request assessments: After conducting market research, schedule consultations with two to three marketing companies to request marketing assessments.

Selecting the right marketing partner requires the same careful consideration as building your own marketing team. You wouldn’t conduct one interview and hire the first candidate. Look beyond technical qualifications, seeking a marketing firm that aligns with your company culture and core values.

When hiring a marketing company, prioritize your specific vision for success.

Do you have specific sales goals to achieve?

Are you looking to hire a marketing agency to help your business grow?

During these consultations, you can learn how each marketing company approaches strategy, communicates goals, and defines success.

Remember, many agencies offer excellent services, but for most business leaders, choosing the best marketing partner goes beyond competence in digital marketing.

Hiring the best marketing agency creates a mutually beneficial partnership. Your business gains insights and expertise, fueling the agency’s success as you achieve your goals.

Step 4: Make a decision: Hiring the right agency can transform your business.

By following these steps, you can find an expert team that understands how to deliver more than digital marketing services.

You gain a strategic partner who will amplify your voice, drive growth, and help you realize your boldest ambitions.


Whether you choose to build an internal team or partner with a marketing company:

  • Don’t settle for anything less than a team as dedicated to your success as you are.
  • Great business leaders find the right people to achieve results.

At Valve+Meter, our core values of love, serve and transform shape every aspect of our process. For business leaders seeking clarity on building sustainable marketing, consulting with our strategists can be transformative.

The ability to integrate data throughout marketing, sales, and operations can revolutionize your business. We offer two different approaches to help your business:

  • Comprehensive Marketing Strategy: For some businesses, our team delivers a measurable, repeatable, scalable, and profitable marketing plan.
  • Fractional Support: For others, we operate as an extension of your in-house marketing team, delivering specialized services.


Connect With Our Marketing Team

Gain honest and clear insights into your best marketing strategy with a free consultation.

Connect With Our Strategists


Some business leaders are still driven by an ownership mindset – if you can build an in-house team, why rely on outside partners?

Developing internal resources poses more significant risks as digital marketing becomes increasingly complex across multiple channels.

A marketing agency stays on the cutting edge of market research, constantly analyzing consumer behavior, emerging platforms, and new technologies. An internal team is typically focused on the core competencies of your current marketing efforts.

The best marketing strategies balance some level of internal marketing leadership with trusted outside partners.

For small businesses, hiring a marketing agency gives you access to the expertise and resources necessary for achieving both short-term and long-term goals.

Even medium-sized businesses and enterprise companies benefit from partnering with a trusted outside marketing firm to strengthen their internal team’s effectiveness.

An agency provides specialized skills, access to advanced technology, and a wealth of experience to help you achieve sales goals more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Businesses of all sizes find value when a CMO, director, or marketing manager leads digital marketing efforts and strategically delegated day-to-day and specialized tasks to outside marketing companies.

Whether to build an internal team or outsource depends on your core philosophy. Consulting with business leaders within your network and connecting with leading marketing agencies can further inform your decision-making process.

Hiring a marketing company for all or a fraction of your marketing offers three distinct benefits:

  1. Efficiency: One of the primary advantages of working with a marketing agency is the efficiency it brings to your marketing operations. A marketing firm provides a team of specialists in various disciplines, from content creation to digital advertising, SEO, and more. This means you can access a wide range of skills and expertise without the need to hire and train multiple in-house staff members. Additionally, agencies build advanced tech stacks and tools that can streamline your marketing processes and provide valuable insights into your campaigns.
  2. Cost-effectiveness: Outsourcing specialized marketing services reduces short-term costs. Agencies can leverage their resources, relationships, and bulk purchasing power to secure better pricing on media buys, software subscriptions, and other marketing services. This can cause lower overall costs compared to building and maintaining a comprehensive in-house team.
  3. Expertise: The most vital benefit of outsourcing is immediate access to expertise. Marketing agencies bring a wealth of experience and up-to-date knowledge to the table. Their teams are well-versed in the latest trends, best practices, and emerging technologies in the marketing world. By tapping into this expertise, you can ensure that your marketing efforts are always on the cutting edge, helping you stay competitive in a rapidly evolving landscape.

Outsourcing to a marketing firm versus adding internal resources should always be carefully considered. Consulting with a marketing company can save money, accelerate timelines, and offer insights into other aspects of your go-to-market strategy.