In-house vs agency marketing – what’s the difference?

As a marketing professional with a wealth of marketing experience as part of in-house departments and in agency settings, I’ve come to learn (at least a bit!) about the benefits and negatives of both.

I’ve been in marketing for my whole professional career; when I left university, my first step was to find a marketing executive role and work my way up! For the past 16 years, I’ve gained experience on all sides of the industry, as part of in-house teams, managing teams, and most recently, in an agency setting.  While certain aspects have been challenging, I can honestly say that every experience I’ve had has taught me something new.

Benefits of working as part of an in-house marketing team

I loved my time working in marketing departments. Being within an integrated team and having a direct impact on sales, outcomes, and playing my part in forming long-term projects gave me the chance to see marketing as part of an interconnected system.


One of the biggest benefits of working as an in-house marketing manager is the ongoing consistency that the role allows; from the start of a project through to completion, you have control and input, deciding on the direction the company’s marketing takes.

I loved to be able to guide a company’s public-facing image and shape the future of the firm’s marketing. While you can have an impact from an agency, much of the work that I’m doing now involves providing fantastic support to in-house teams (although our strategy sessions still satisfies that urge – and give clients access to the expertise at Workshop Marketing!).

Easier to give feedback – both positive and negative

When you’re working in a marketing department and using an agency, it’s a lot easier to give feedback; often you can just say whether you like a design, piece of copy, or strategy – then it’s up to the agency to come back better! If you don’t like something, you can abdicate much of the hard work and let the specialists do their magic. Working in-house, making changes to a design or piece of copy can be tricky – obviously you don’t want to offend your colleagues! Being able to pass on feedback to an agency was a great part of working in-house.

Now I’m in an agency, I have to say that I’m loving the creative challenges that come with that, but I have to say, it was definitely easier as a marketing manager working with a specialist agency than in one!

Being part of a team

As with any role, the make-or-break aspect is always the people. I loved being part of a close-knit team when I was an in-house marketing manager. Working with a great marketing team can be one of the biggest benefits of working in-house.

Benefits of a marketing agency

Being part of an agency provides a host of benefits that in-house marketing just can’t offer. The flexibility, connections with multiple clients, and relationships that you build internally and externally make working in a marketing agency the best experience of my career.


The variety of projects that I’ve been able to work on since starting in a marketing agency has blown me away! We’ve got expertise in a range of different areas – not just marketing! – and we’re able to offer fantastic support to clients in amazing industries. Every day I’ve been at Workshop Marketing, I’m learning more and more about things that I’d never have been exposed to at an in-house role, and constantly growing into a better marketer as a result!

The downsides of in-house marketing

There are definitely negatives of in-house marketing. Whether it’s overzealous upper management or an apathetic approach to the long-term strategy, I’ve found that marketing within a company can be trickier than it might seem.

Marketing’s perception in many companies

Marketing is a department that touches absolutely everything. Sometimes that’s great, and gives you the scope to make decisions in a wide array of areas. However, there’s also the problem that oftentimes, you’ll be involved in meetings that only tangentially involve the marketing aspect and take you away from your day-to-day.

The internal politics

There’s also the issue of dealing with internal politics – especially in a bigger company! Things can be slow-moving and hard to get through, and oftentimes, marketing is one of the easiest to blame for things not going quite right. In an agency, only the client’s interests matter, giving me more time to focus on how to get the job done right, instead of having to please people.

Why I love my role in a marketing agency

There’s nothing better than being part of an agency that knows what it’s doing. Everyone in the company is so focused on marketing and improving how each and every client’s strategy improves that it’s hard not to feel enthusiastic every day at work.

Being part of a family

While being part of a team is one of the key benefits of in-house marketing, working at an agency has shown me what being part of a working family means. I’m proud to work at Workshop Marketing every day, with people that really care improving and learning to perform as well as we can for every client. The togetherness of the team gives us a great foundation to build some excellent campaigns for clients, and I’m delighted to be able to provide marketing support for a range of clients in some really exciting industries.

By Sarah Bojanowski