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In-house vs Agency: Which is better for your marketing needs?

The Brewers Association recently released their 2023 Salary Benchmarking Report that outlines average pay and benefits for both front of house and back of house positions. A few statistics from the marketing side:

Salary statistics

To break that down in terms of monthly pay, hiring for all three of these roles will cost you an average of $20,000 per month.

Agency space

Is it cost-effective to hire an in-house marketing team when you consider the bottom line? Let's dive into the pros and cons of both.

In-house vs agency marketing depends on a handful of things. Your budget, brand identity, and strategic objectives will ultimately dictate the most suitable path. Striking the right balance between internal and external resources can be a delicate balance but absolutely worth your time and consideration.


In-House Marketing Staff


  1. Brand Knowledge: In-house hires typically have a greater understanding of your brand, culture, and products. This familiarity can lead to marketing strategies that seamlessly align with your identity and established strategy.

  2. Cost Control: In-house employees come with a fixed annual salary, potentially reducing the overall expenses compared to agency fees.

  3. Faster Response Time: Internal teams are typically on-site more often than an agency or freelancer which means they have more time to create content and


  1. Limited Expertise: In-house hires might lack the breadth of experience and creativity that external agencies can offer. This could result in a narrower marketing perspective and limit your growth potential.

  2. Resource Constraints: Smaller breweries for example, may struggle to afford a full time marketing person and instead offload the responsibilities to a beertender or taproom manager. This could hinder the effectiveness of their marketing efforts as the employee has other work duties that take priority.

  3. Hidden Costs: Full-time employees mean onboarding, benefits, and Human Resources concerns. And you'll need to pay for their equipment too. Need a camera to shoot event photos? Photo editing software? Lighting? Computers? It all adds up.


External Agency Marketing


  1. Specialized Expertise: External agencies are specialists in their field. They bring a wealth of experience and fresh, innovative perspectives to the table, which can enhance your marketing strategies and make your brewery stand out.

  2. Scalability: Agencies are highly adaptable. They can scale their services up or down as needed for flexibility.

  3. Diverse Resources: Agencies typically have a range of tools, professionals, and creative resources at their disposal which helps them stay ahead of the curve and recent trends.


  1. Cost: Engaging external agencies can be more expensive, as their fees are ongoing.

  2. Limited Brand Understanding: Agencies may take some time to fully grasp the nuances of your brand, potentially resulting in misaligned marketing strategies in the early stages.

  3. Location: Agencies are located all over the country and the world which can lead to a disconnect in marketing strategy if they aren't familiar with your brand. That's why an industry-specific agency and/or an agency located near your location can be a better choice.


A Balanced Perspective

People working around a table

While the choice between in-house and external agency marketing ultimately depends on your company's unique circumstances, budget, and strategic objectives, it's worth noting that external agencies offer some compelling advantages. They provide specialized expertise, scalability, and access to diverse resources that can drive your marketing efforts to the next level.

However, this doesn't mean that in-house marketing should be disregarded. In fact, the two can easily work together for the best of both worlds. Have your in-house staff produce content that the agency then uses for their campaigns and higher level strategy. Collaboration can be a beautiful thing!

Overall, the decision to hire in-house or hire an external agency for marketing is not one-size-fits-all. It's a choice that should be made with careful consideration of your org's unique needs and goals. Striking the right balance between internal and external resources can often lead to some amazing results.


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