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  • Writer's pictureClaire Hutchings

The real cost of hiring a marketing manager

Updated: Apr 28, 2023

The decision of how to execute your agency’s marketing is a big one. You’ve got options, and they all have pros and cons.

For many agencies bringing the marketing function in-house and growing a team of internal marketers and business developers is absolutely right. But for others, outsourcing or working with a fractional CMO is a safer, and surprisingly, often cheaper option.

This article looks at the true cost of hiring a marketing manager versus outsourcing all or part of your marketing.

Full-time marketing manager

Let’s first take a look at hiring a full-time marketing manager for £35,000 pa which is £2,916 per month. Or is it?

In their first year of employment, there are a number of additional but forgotten costs and considerations to factor in.

  • Recruiter fees

  • Tech and office set-up

  • Pension

  • NI contribution

  • Training

  • Sick leave

  • Annual leave

  • Annual bonus

  • Employee benefits package

When you take all this into account, the true cost of your marketing manager in their first year is more like £63,000. Over 11 months rather than 12 when you factor in their annual leave, sick days and training time that’s £5,727 per month. You can check our maths, by playing with this employee cost calculator!

On top of that, this role is notoriously difficult to hire for, especially if you require them to have previous agency experience. The hard truth is that there just aren’t that many experienced in-house agency marketers so you have a smaller talent pool to fish in. Finding an individual that is a self-starter, strategic and happy to roll their sleeves up to do the ‘doing’ is another challenge. And then there’s an expectation for them to be an expert in every marketing discipline from design to SEO, copywriting to PPC.

But it is also tricky to retain this role as providing progression can be challenging. Few independent agencies grow to hire a full marketing team or have a CMO. This means for your marketing manager to see progression, they will often end up moving into a client-facing role or leaving for pastures new. Either way, you will need to begin the process of rehiring every 2-3 years (and this is the best-case scenario).

Speaking from first-hand experience, it can be hard to succeed in this role. As a marketing manager within an independent agency sub 50 people, you will likely report to the CEO, founder, or another board member. They are time-poor, stretched thinly, and may not have a marketing background themselves which can mean you are left to fend for yourself.

Of course, for some agencies, the pros of hiring in-house outweigh all of this. You have the opportunity to make a culture hire that will add spades of enthusiasm to your team dynamic. You can mould them to exactly what your business needs. Their sole focus will be your agency and you will likely get more of their time across the working week than you would if you outsourced.

Outsourcing your agency’s marketing

Your next option is to bring in external specialists to execute your agency’s marketing. This could be in the form of freelancers, consultants, fractional marketers or other agency partners (like Chime Agency!).

Outsourcing isn’t right for every agency.

  • If you have a strong ethos and process of ringfencing time within your business to dedicate to your own marketing it’s a worthy investment.

  • If you already have a superstar that wants to move into an internal marketing manager role, retain them.

  • If as a founder or management team, you have marketing experience and time to nurture a marketing hire, do it.

  • If you can understand what the path to progression for your marketing hire will be, make it happen.

But there is a myriad of benefits to this approach:

  • You gain a critical friend that can hold a mirror up to your agency

  • Tap into a breadth of experience and skills that you wouldn't find in one person

  • Retaining knowledge across a team of specialists that won't be lost when an internal hire moves on

  • Less downtime as you don’t need to worry about sick days, training days and annual leave

  • An external team is efficient at managing its time and productivity so can often produce more in less time

  • Flexibility to scale up or down as your needs and budget requires

However, one of the barriers agencies face is the perceived cost of working with an external marketing function. So let’s break it down.

Chime Agency’s entry-level monthly retainer for marketing support is £2,600 per month (or £31,000 annually). Meanwhile, our full-service retainers start at £4,000 per month (or £48,000 annually) – this includes content creation, campaign management, reporting, liaison with internal stakeholders and other external suppliers, hands-on executional support, senior counsel, and accountability from a marketing director with extensive experience.

Both options are less than the real cost (£5,727 per month or £63,000 per year) of a full-time marketing manager in their first year.

If time is at a premium or your marketing expertise is lacking, outsourcing your agency’s marketing is a very viable alternative to hiring an in-house marketing manager.

Find out more about how we support agencies with their marketing.

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