The Pros and Cons of In-House Marketing vs. Resourced Marketing

Marketing your law firm is one of the roles you’re responsible for when building a successful practice. But with all the other responsibilities you have as a lawyer, trying to handle all of the design and implementation of your marketing strategies can turn out to be a mistake.

To execute effective marketing, you need help from those who specialize in crafting, developing, and implementing advertising campaigns. You want a team that has marketing knowledge and experience with branding, messaging, and positioning under their belts.

If you don’t bring a team on board with marketing and public relations know-how, your firm may not grow at the pace you need it to and your brand identity could suffer, leading to a loss of potential clients and ROI. But is it better and more efficient to hire your own in-house team or outsource your marketing to an agency?  

The answer depends on how you weigh the pros and cons of each, and your firm’s goals and resources.  

In-House Marketing Pros

An important part of your legal responsibilities includes maintaining client confidentiality and advocating for your clients’ interests. While an agency can resemble those responsibilities for the marketing of your law firm, hiring an in-house marketing team means you’ll have more direct control. The advantages you’ll gain with an in-house staff include:

  • Creative control and less creative conflicts. In-house staff is already familiar with your firm’s culture, what you want to accomplish, and your firm’s brand. You’ll have an easier time communicating with them and fewer chances of clashing with ideas and messaging that might not capture your true vision.
  • Your costs can be scaled. If you’re a smaller firm, you can hire a smaller staff and bring more on board as you grow. For smaller or developing firms, hiring only the internal staff you need can save costs. 
  •  Efficient implementation. In-house marketing staff is dedicated to your firm and its marketing campaigns. This means they’ll be ready to start putting together and implementing ideas versus an agency that will be juggling multiple clients with different needs and timetables.  

In-House Marketing Cons

Bringing on your own marketing staff involves taking the time to recruit, select, train, develop, and retain the “right” people. Even if your firm has a separate HR department, you’ll still need to devote some of your time and responsibility to the process. Besides the dedication it takes to manage additional staff, assembling an in-house team comes with these disadvantages:

  • Limited skills, experience, and perspectives. Depending upon the size and resources of your firm, you may not be able to attract all of the skills and experience you desire in an in-house team. You may need to scale back your expectations and may find yourself limited in how many roles you can create. In-house staff members are also subject to working in silos and can develop limited perspectives based on internal knowledge. 
  • Restrictions on internal resources. The quality, depth, and breadth of work an in-house team can accomplish can become limited by internal resources. This includes things like technology, support and cooperation from other departments, and budget.  
  • Risk of turnover. There’s no guarantee that the staff you bring on will stay or how long they’ll stay. You could lose critical employees during the middle of an important advertising campaign or the development of a new marketing initiative. The costs associated with losing tenured staff’s knowledge and experience, plus the costs of replacing them and shifting the burden to other employees in their absence can harm your marketing’s effectiveness. 

Resourced Marketing Pros

Hiring an agency to handle your law firm’s marketing campaigns can alleviate some of your responsibilities and bring a fresh, outside perspective to your creative strategy. If your firm needs to grow quickly and you’re willing to invest the time it takes to develop a sound relationship with an external agency, resourced marketing can be optimal. The top advantages of hiring an external agency include:

  • Expert resources and skills. An outside agency often brings years of knowledge and expertise, along with a wider range of skills and perspectives. You’ll have access to expertise you may not have with an internal team. An agency can also tailor and focus its resources on your main problem areas. 
  • Fresh perspective. Advertising and marketing agencies are used to acting as consultants. While agencies are not a part of your firm, this can bring a new perspective to the current state of your firm’s branding, messaging, and objectives. A fresh perspective could be what you need to take your firm to the next level. 
  • Fewer turnover risks. With an agency, you won’t have to worry about managing turnover. Although there may be turnover within an agency, the effects will not impact your law firm’s marketing strategies as negatively. An agency will typically have enough specialists and account managers to continue implementing your campaigns.

Resourced Marketing Cons

Outsourcing your marketing campaigns to an agency can free up your time and might even save you money in the long-run, but it doesn’t come without risks. The drawbacks of hiring an agency include:

  • You’re not the agency’s only client: An agency’s staff may be dedicated to your projects and campaigns, but they won’t be dedicated to only your law firm. If you need last-minute changes, you may not be able to get a jump start. You may need to wait until the agency has the bandwidth to switch gears and place complete attention on your project.
  • Time to build trust and familiarity. The agency you hire will need to take time to get familiar with your firm, your firm’s brand, your current marketing strategy, and your objectives. An agency will develop its own creative direction, which may not turn out to be exactly what you want.

Deciding whether to hire your own marketing staff or outsource your campaigns to an agency can be a difficult decision. It’s one that can make or break your firm’s success. 

I can show you what marketing factors you’ll want to consider and prioritize by attending my Marketing for the  Masters Retreat.