[IMGCAP(1)]You’ve got enough work to keep a marketer busy full-time and you can afford to hire one, but what’s the best option: hire somebody in-house or work with an outside firm?

In a previous column, I discussed ways to establish whether the best source of marketing help for your firm is in-house or outsourced (see Should You Hire or Outsource for Marketing Assistance?). In a perfect world, all firms would have access to both options to turn to as the situation demanded. But in the real world, many professional services firms must make a choice between the two, at least temporarily. If you’ve already decided you have the work and the resources to support a full-time employee, ask yourself if you need a marketing person who is always accessible to you.

Some firms really do need this, for quick changes in plans, spur-of-the-moment ideas and a constant flow of marketing messages. If the marketer at your firm is the one who writes all blogs posts, handles all the social media accounts and tackles a constant barrage of marketing demands, you may want to go for the internal person.

A good outsourced marketer will be readily available and able to turn work around quite quickly, but not with the alacrity of someone who’s always right down the hall. If you have a legitimate need for full-time access to someone devoted solely to your firm’s work, then hiring is your best choice. If, on the other hand, your social media work is distributed across the firm to partners and others, blog posts and journal articles are created by different people and your other marketing activities tend to be planned ahead of time or few in number, an outsourced provider can be a perfect fit.

Next, let’s examine the nature of the services you need. Like ice cream, marketers come in infinite flavors. Do your needs fall into a category that can be well served by an individual, who will come with a particular background and skill level? A single, talented marketer should be able to handle a variety of tasks and perform them all well. Even so, many firms find that they require specific advanced knowledge or experience for some marketing activities.

The greater the range of marketing activities in which your firm engages, the more likely it is that an outsourced firm will be best able to help you tackle them. Blogging, writing press releases and making social media posts is one set of skills you can reasonably expect to find in the employee you hire. Developing a complex marketing plan, creating collateral materials and implementing multifaceted approaches in addition to the functions listed earlier may call for the range of skills found at a firm that specializes in marketing for your industry. If you need a broad range of marketing skills and experience levels, consider using an outsourced firm.

If you’re still unsure after examining all these questions, it’s time to think about the way your firm handles marketing decisions. Do you have a partner or manager who can provide regular direction and support, or are you more inclined to turn the job over to the assigned party and let it go?

There is no right or wrong here; it’s mostly a matter of recognizing the style you’re most comfortable with to find the right fit.

In-house or outsourced, there has to be good communication of the goals and tactics you want to see reflected in your marketing messages. Any marketer working for your firm is going to need regular feedback throughout the process and should listen carefully to what you share. Beyond those universal standards, if your style trends towards micro-management, in-house staff is going to be your most efficient choice.

For other firms that want to focus more exclusively on their professional work, turning the marketing over to a trusted outsourced provider will bring the most return on investment. These professionals are going to bring a wealth of independent ideas and industry-specific insights to use for you. While they should always be attuned to the subtleties of your firm personality and marketing goals, for the most part they will be able to take it from there.

Whether you ultimately decide to hire a marketing professional full time or outsource to a third party, the key to success is finding someone you like personally, respect professionally, trust to ask the right questions and can count on to deliver what your firm needs to increase awareness and support sales efforts. Beyond skill and experience in your specific market niche, understanding exactly what your firm needs and what makes it special will lead to marketing that brings positive results. Good luck in the search!

Sarah Warlick is a writer and copy editor for bbr marketing. She is in charge of ensuring that all copy is well-written, accurate and free of pesky typos, as well as writing and ghostwriting a great deal of content. bbr marketing provides marketing services and strategy to professional services firms.

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