There’s a trend happening right now in online business where entrepreneurs are choosing to build out in-house marketing teams v hire an agency. 

And honestly, it makes sense! There’s a lot of bad marketing agencies out there (because building one is hard!), and too many people have had an awful experience. 

But, I’m seeing even more business owners question this trend and run toward high-quality agencies. 

Because they know what I know: 

  • Building an in-house marketing team is often MORE expensive (especially for a company making $10M or less)
  • And, an in-house team loses the vast amount of training + data provided by a HIGH-QUALITY agency 

In this episode I’m diving into the major differences between building an in-house marketing team v hiring a marketing agency – plus what to consider if you’ve had a negative experience with either. 

You’ll hear more about the two big companies that recently hired my team (after years of in-house marketing experience!) + why I think this will become the trend of 2020… 

If you’re ready to work with an agency, there’s now 2 ways to work with Team Hirsh! We offer full-suite marketing support, including done-for-you Facebook + Instagram ads. PLUS, we now have strategy audits for your in-house team, available by application! Head to for more details. 

Key Points: 

[2:31] There’s a trend happening where entrepreneurs are choosing to build in-house marketing teams vs hire out

[4:47] But, we’re seeing big companies with in-house teams line up to work with our agency… 

[6:29] Yes, there are a lot of bad marketing agencies out there

[8:29] Here’s the big difference between building an in-house team + hiring an agency

[10:42] Now, not everyone should hire us!

[12:15] But if you’re under $10M in revenue, building an in-house team will likely cost you MORE

[13:55] If you’re ready to hire an agency, consider this

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Episode Transcripts:  

Emily Hirsh: I’m Emily Hirsh, and this is The Hirsh Marketing Underground Podcast. Attention innovators, influencers, creators, and game-changing entrepreneurs: Your internet domination begins right here. We are the powerhouse marketers that you’ve been looking for. You’re already making waves in your industry, and we’re here to help amplify those waves of change by creating a connection that cuts through the noise.

We take everything you’ve built inside your zone of genius and find its audience. With killer strategy and laser eye for impact, we launch multimillion dollar campaigns and skyrocket your reach online. And now, we are doing the unheard of. We’re unveiling everything we’ve learned, taking you behind the scenes with the Hirsh Marketing Team, and giving away the secrets to our clients’ success. Stay tuned for top converting strategy, ROI reports, and insider knowledge that you won’t find anywhere else. You’re changing the world, and we’re the team to help.

Hello everyone. Welcome back to the podcast. I hope you guys are all doing amazing and having an amazing week. I’ve been enjoying this month. I have had not a lot of travel, which I have mixed feelings about. I was kind of analyzing, because I really like to travel and I get bored if I’m at my house for three or four weeks and I haven’t gone anywhere yet, I think because I have my kids and so there’s so much like, just very calm time. And I’ve been with my kids quite a lot in the last month, which is amazing, and I’m so grateful for that time. But I get antsy if we haven’t done an adventure or traveled…

But on the flip side, I’m really enjoying being in a solid routine and really being here for my team, being here for all my personal, self-care appointments. It definitely weighs on you when you travel. Last time I traveled… I don’t think I’ve said this on the podcast yet, but I am pregnant. I’m due in February, so I’m pretty pregnant, going into the third trimester. The last time I traveled, I was dying a little bit. I couldn’t sit, it was uncomfortable. And this is my third, so I definitely am feeling it more this time than with my last two. So, it’s been a good month, really good month. We decided to not go out of town for Thanksgiving, we’re going to stay here. We’re going to go out of town for Christmas. And so I’ve been enjoying all the time, the structure and the routine, and just being in my flow this month has felt really good.

So, I’m excited today! What I want to touch on is the issue with having an in-house ads team. There’s a really big trend right now where a lot of people want to build an in-house ads team. And for a while, I considered it. I was like, “Is there a certain level of business where it makes sense to build it in-house?” And I think that there is. I think that when you are ClickFunnel’s, Russell Brunson’s size, or I don’t know… I don’t want to put a number, but I’d say like, $100 million [company]? If you’re that high, maybe $50 million? It also depends on your team, but… [At that point] then it might make sense, then it probably makes sense for you to build an in-house ads team, and you have the money to do it.

But here’s the problem. The way this came about is, I’ve had two different interactions that kind of stopped me [from considering this further]. One, we had a massive company, who I’m connected with and has had an in-house team basically since they started, reach out and hire us. They have over a $45 million company and have a whole in-house team and actually want to switch to an agency. So that made me think, I was like, “That’s a super interesting decision,” because I haven’t really seen someone do that before.

So I talked to him about it and was like, “Why are you making this decision?” And it was basically because he couldn’t keep up with training his ads managers and his media buyers as fast as he knew an agency would. So he said it was hurting [his business], because he had experienced managers but inexperienced media buyers and people actually doing the day-to-day work. So he’d have to provide the training and the feedback, and it was just slowing them down.

They have a massive, massive ads budget. We’re talking close to $12 million a year, Facebook and Instagram ad budget. They want to switch that over to us, and so they have. That was super interesting, because I was like, “This is somebody who knows what they’re doing clearly, has an amazing business, also has had an in-house team since the beginning, and is going to an agency.” And the reason is because he felt like his team just wasn’t at the level that he needed to be able to scale at the level they want, and it was holding them back.

The second thing is, we’ve had another huge company, who I can’t name, hire us to come in and audit their ads. They have an in-house team, a very big in-house team. This is a very big company, very well known, biggest we’ve ever worked with. They have hired us to come in and audit their ads and then give that audit to their in-house team. But they were feeling the same thing of like, “We know we’re doing well, and we know we’re doing our strategy, but we don’t know what we don’t know.” And I think when you get to a certain level in entrepreneurship, you kind of cross that path. And I’ve watched… I don’t even know if I’ve been there, but [no], I have been there and it’s very… There’s times where you’re like, “Wow, I just realized I don’t know everything.”

So I think that the faster you can get there and realize, “We’re doing great, and we can do this well, but we don’t know what we don’t know,” and an agency that is in 40 to 50 client accounts and managing millions of dollars of ad spend, but also managing multiple strategies every single day, is always going to have more intel than an in-house team could. Because your in-house team will just be doing your account, and so they’re going to be stuck on your account, your strategies and kind of living that day to day.

But we all know with marketing, one of the most important things is that it’s always changing, and we have to be ahead of that change, and we have to be on top of it and innovative with it, and constantly thinking of new things to not get saturated and just dull, and that will prevent you from being able to scale… So my prediction actually, with these experiences, is that… right now, currently, I think there’s a lot of people who are like, “I’ve had so [many] bad experiences with agencies. I’m going the in-house route,” which is fair.

There are a lot of really terrible agencies out there, which is why sometimes I don’t want to call myself that. Because what happens is, a lot of agencies don’t focus on their actual delivery, and they just sell and sell and get clients, and then they don’t deliver, and they don’t have organization on the back end, and process, because it’s hard. It’s really hard.

I have spent the last two years building that out, and the last year pretty much only focusing on that, not focusing on our marketing and our client acquisition, but focusing on our systems and [asking], how do we get a very streamlined system in place? So I’ve focused so much on that that we deliver very, very well. I would argue one of the best, because I’ve even heard of bigger “agencies” than me, that are corporate, that don’t deliver, and [that] people have had bad experiences with.

So anyways, I think people are having a lot of bad experiences or hearing about bad experiences with agencies. I just talked to someone yesterday who signed on with us [and] who has worked with 10 different agencies or ads managers, and it’s just crazy to me, the story she has of things that have happened, and it makes me so angry, which is why I do what I do, and turn things around in the industry, and give people an amazing experience.

But people are having that [experience], so they’re like, “I’m going to go the in-house route.” That’s like the cool, fad thing to do right now is build an in-house team. What you don’t realize is, in theory, that’s great. You get a full-time ads manager. They know how to manage ads. You could maybe buy them a course. I’ve had people buy my course for their in-house team.

Cool. But they’re going to hit a ceiling where they don’t have [those] fresh innovation strategies. And if your goal in your company is to scale and to be innovative and to launch new things, where the CEO gets really frustrated is where they feel like they have to drive that. So the difference between, I think, having an in-house team… not all of them, but a lot of in-house teams… and having an agency is that the agency is going to drive the strategy, is going to be proactive. They should be, at least. Mine is. But if not, then there’s a problem.

They should drive the strategy, and they should drive like, “Hey, we noticed that the conversion went down from last month, and so here’s everything we’re doing, here’s everything we’re trying.” Or “We saw the strategy work really well on this client account or this strategy, and so we’re going to try it on your account.” From the ads manager to our strategist to our creative team… all having that really broad experience, but also, from myself and our leadership… we’re constantly pushing like, “What else can we be doing? What else are we missing?”

And pushing that for our team. Whereas an in-house team… you might get an employee, and they just show up for the day for work. They’re scaling your ads. They’re profitable, which is good, but are they really doing everything? I think that’s where these two relationships that we built came from is, they were like, “I want the experience that the Hirsh Marketing Team has every day, on all of these client accounts in this industry, in our one account and [with] our one ads manager and our strategies in our business,” and you can’t replicate that.

So I think it has made me think for the last week, because this person who hired us, I really respect as a business owner. I was genuinely, actually surprised when he reached out and wanted to get on a call. And I was just surprised, because he’s had an in-house team since the beginning of their business, and they built it to $50 million.

So I’m really excited, really excited. I think we’re going to crush it for them and do so well. And actually, I’m giving them a dedicated… they have one single ads manager on their account, and that ads manager doesn’t have anybody else they’re managing. So basically, it’s a full-time employee, because it’s so much ad spend, so I want to give that to them.

So it should be really cool. But they’re going to get the benefit of all the trainings my team goes through, all the strategy collaboration, all the testing, all the different strategies. They get that benefit, where you don’t have that in an in-house team. So if you’re considering an in-house team, I just want you guys to think about this, because there are pros and cons to both, 100%.

I’m technically an agency. So in some cases I’ll argue that, but also in some cases I’ve met people, and I’ve said, “You should have an in-house team,” because there are people who should. Like, I won’t take somebody on at a certain level if I think that they’re going to be a huge strain on my team. And there are some people who need to go through the experience of, I think, having an in-house team, it not really working out, and then going back to an agency, in order to realize they want to be with an agency. I don’t want to be part of that traumatic experience, if that makes sense?

I actually don’t argue always that it’s in-house [only] or that everyone should have an agency. I don’t think that. I think that there is a level and where it makes sense for a company to build it in-house. But if you’ve also built it in-house, make sure you’re getting the strategies from somewhere else.

[Like] this other company who’s hired us to audit their ads. So what we do is a weekly audit. They have several accounts, to different funnels, and so we just every week cycle through and audit the account, and then put all our findings [together], and then deliver it to their team, and then their in-house team goes and implements it. So at least then they’re not stuck in that strategy, and they’re not stuck in just doing what they know and not expanding beyond that. So that’s a great option for some companies. I think, at least, if you have an in-house team, you should be doing that, and providing your team with that type of training and that type of feedback and consulting.

The second thing is, though, if you’re going to build an in-house team, and you’re under $10 million (but arguably even higher), it’s going to be more expensive for you. You don’t understand, because you need, not only just an ads manager, but then you need a strategist to manage that ads manager, because ads managers… Mine are strategic, but then we need higher level strategy, and we need management.

You don’t want to do that as the CEO! That would not make any sense. So you’re going to need an ads manager and a strategist. Then you’re going to need all the creative, which is very expensive, copywriters and designers. So you’re talking about at least, I’d say $150,000 a year of salaries. If you had three of those, plus the employment taxes, vacation time, benefits… it all adds up.

So in theory, it’s great to have an in-house team. But then when you actually look at the expenses of agency versus in-house team, and the stress of having to manage the strategy yourself, and if they slack on the strategy, then you kind of go down for that, your business suffers, it sometimes makes more sense to have an agency.

And so I am throwing this out there because I think it’s a fad. I think that right now, there’s a lot of people going with an in-house team, and I think it’s going to switch in 2020 when people realize, “This is really expensive, this is really hard to manage, this is draining all of my time, and we’re not going anywhere,” and then go back to the agencies.

But [they’ll] have to find agencies who can deliver… Here’s what you need to look for when you’re finding an agency is, do they have a team? Is the CEO themselves managing the ads? That’s a really huge red flag, really huge. Because how can somebody manage client ads and run a company, a successful company? So really big red flag if that’s happening.

Do they have a team? Do they have systems? And then ask them stuff like, what’s their onboarding process? Their weekly reporting process to clients? If they don’t even do weekly reports, big red flag. What’s the client communication process? What’s their creative process? Just ask everything about their process.

If they’re not solid with their process, and they’re not like, “Yeah. Here, this is what we do, and it’s this step, this step, this step” … that’s what I would do if someone asked me all those questions, because we have a solid process for each thing… then they’re not probably ready. And it’s not a hit on those agencies. It’s that it takes years to get to that place, and you shouldn’t be taking on high level clients until you’re at that place and until you’ve built that out.

So if you decide to go that route, it’s a matter of finding the right agency, and also the one who doesn’t take on everyone. An agency who’s like, “Yeah, we work with everyone, and we do everything. We’re a full suite agency. We do Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram.” Unless they’re huge and they have funding… I haven’t been able to offer those other services, because I don’t have the funding to build it out, the departments out, and actually do it well. So I think that when agencies try and focus on everything and say ‘yes’ to everyone, they hurt everyone that they’re trying to serve.

So just some thoughts for you guys today that I wanted to bring on just from my experiences that we’ve had with these couple of different client relationships that we’re really excited about… and that I think the trend is shifting. When these big guys start doing this, it’s usually ahead of everybody else, and then everybody else is going to switch and do that, because these are the same people who were saying things like, “You always have to have an in-house ads team, that’s the one thing I’ll never hire out,” and then they’ve changed their minds.

So really, really interesting to me, and I can’t wait to watch this be such a win for them, as well as for us, and how much we’re going to learn from it, too. So all right guys, if you are thinking of hiring an agency in 2020 and you want a marketing team on your side, I’d really encourage you to book a call in with our team. Just going through that application process, going through that call process… We do not sign on people that we don’t think are the right fit, and going through that, you might even just learn something about your business, just from that.

We have relatively limited spots in quarter one of 2020, so be proactive with it, plan ahead for it, get on our list, get onboarded, and we would love to work with you guys if you’re the right fit! So you can go to to fill out that application and get a call booked in with my team.

Thanks for listening to the Hirsh Marketing Underground Podcast. Go behind the scenes of multimillion dollar ad campaigns and strategies, dive deep into The Hirsh Process, and listen to our most popular episodes over at If you loved this episode of the podcast, do me a favor and head over to iTunes to subscribe and leave a review, so we can reach more people and change more lives with this content. That’s all for now, and I’ll catch you next time.