If you’ve never worked with a marketing agency before, you may be asking yourself, “should I work with a marketing agency or hire an in-house marketing team?” For more than 15 years I worked in corporations where we worked without agency partners at times, with agencies at other times, and I now own a marketing agency, LimeLight Marketing.
Working with an agency isn’t always the right decision. Either option will be an investment of time and money so it’s important to know the advantages of each option so that you can make an informed decision.
Marketing can be a rather complex and difficult thing to do well, which leads some companies to choose to work with an outside marketing agency with ready-made marketing skills sets, expertise, knowledge, and marketing technology at their fingertips. But is hiring an agency the right move for your company?
Marketing is personal. To do it right, you need to have an intimate knowledge of the target market, the many different marketing channels and how to use them effectively, as well as all the different aspects of your company. So unlike HR process or payroll which can be outsourced easily, outsourcing your marketing needs more consideration. There are definite benefits to working with an external marketing agency, but you do have to ensure that they are the right agency for you.
In the spirit of balance, we’ve put together some of the pros and cons of working with an agency that will help you make the right move for your company.
4 Advantages of Working with a Marketing Agency
These are just some of the things you can expect to gain if you choose to outsource your marketing efforts to an agency:
1. You’ll Save Time & Get to Market More Quickly
One of the most common reasons companies hire agencies is their ability to get things done more quickly than you can generally do in-house. Instead of you and your team designing and implementing a campaign, you can have the agency to do this and turn your attention to other aspects of the business.
You would of course advise and guide the agency, giving them your goals and expectations for success. But after that, working with an agency would allow you to step back and let others do the work, freeing you and your employees up to do other things.
Additionally, if you have a strict or unplanned deadline, a marketing agency can quickly scale up, drawing on their depth of skills and experience to deliver according to your schedule.
2. An Agency’s Expertise Gets You Better Results
Building a successful business requires us to be realistic about our limitations. While we may be capable of doing many things, doing all of them well isn’t practical. If marketing isn’t a core competency in your company, you will get better results by working with an agency of experts.
Recognizing this is going to improve your business, as it will allow you to get better returns from your investments.
For example, say you want to invest $50,000 in a digital marketing campaign. You could do it in one of two ways: 1) you could turn this over to your marketing team and ask them to do their best with it, or 2) you could work with an agency. Unless you’ve assembled a large marketing team with specialists in various areas of marketing, it’s likely that your internal team may squander a good portion of that money by testing and trying and never know why they aren’t seeing positive results. The agency, on the other hand, runs campaign daily and can apply best practices and lessons learned to get the best result.
It’s not because agencies are smarter. It’s because they are specialized. They will have done numerous campaigns using a variety of marketing tactics to achieve a variety of goals. It’s only natural that they will have more experience and will be able to use that experience to produce better results. This is why taking advantage of industry-leading expertise is one of the main reasons businesses partner with agencies.
3. A Marketing Agency is Cost-Effective
The primary benefit of specialization is that it allows things to be done efficiently and at a more reasonable cost. Instead of dividing our efforts among many different tasks, specializing allows us to focus on one thing and do it really efficiently.
This same logic applies to marketing. While your team might be great, juggling marketing with their other job tasks is going to hurt efficiency, which in the end costs you money. Even if you have a marketing person in your team, it isn’t reasonable to expect them to cover all aspects of marketing.
Outsourcing to an agency that specializes in marketing and that has the staff and resources already in place to get the job done will allow you to engage in this core function of your business at a lower cost than if you created a new in-house marketing team (depending on the size of your business, of course). According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for a marketing manager is just over $81,000 – imagine how far a marketing agency, as opposed to a single person, could take you with this budget.
4. You Gain Access To the Latest Marketing Tools
Marketing agencies frequently test and use new tools and resources such as the latest software and training as it allows them to stay ahead. It means that they are more efficient, productive, and high-performing…and you don’t have to make these investments.
They also keep abreast of the latest marketing trends which allows them to better serve their clients. This means you don’t have to take the necessary time to do this yourself, and you will still be current and can reap the benefits of technological developments, tools, and strategies.
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4 Advantages of Hiring In-House
Working with a marketing agency isn’t the best option for everyone. There are times when hiring a marketing team is a better option.
1. An In-House Team Has Intimate Brand Knowledge
Hiring an in-house marketing team allows them to build an in-depth understanding of your brand, products, and your customers. They are right in the midst of business meetings and the daily conversations that allow for intimate knowledge.
For example, say you’re in a meeting with your sales team and you hear them talking about a question they continuously get from customers. If you are responsible for writing your company blogs, you will naturally identify this as a great blog topic that you write, and then encourage your sales team to share a link to the blog post as an efficient way to address this question. You may even train them to send it as an assignment leading up to a sales call. Your agency isn’t in these meetings and won’t have the full insight that you do, which can be a challenge.
2. Less Conflict of Interest
Hiring an in-house marketing team manages the risk of having conflicts of interest. Since they share your company values and are fully bought in on your company goals and initiatives, they are less likely to have conflicting perspectives or alternative ideas for how your marketing should be executed.
With a marketing agency there is always going to be a factor of uncertainty, especially if you’re dealing with an agency you’ve never worked with before.
This is why it’s important to do your homework before engaging with an agency. Ask them to produce evidence of past success, and also spend some time reading testimonials from past clients. When you can, ask colleagues and associates for recommendations for good agencies.
Always try and meet the team you’d be working with on a day-to-day basis. Find out what their expertise is and make sure your main point of contact is someone with a strong background in marketing strategy rather than a junior professional. You’ll not only benefit from their knowledge, but they will challenge you to really get things right.
3. More Flexibility
When your team is doing the work, you have more flexibility to control their day to day tasks and focus. So if you come into work one day with a great idea for a series of videos, or for a social media marketing campaign, you can act immediately and deprioritize other projects. At times this can be a good thing, as it allows you to quickly take advantage of opportunities that spring up unplanned.
When working with an agency, they are usually working from a plan that they’ve created with you, and their flexibility to deviate from the plan may require a bit more discussion and planning.
4. In-House Teams May Cost Less
We previously said that an advantage to working with an agency is that they cost less – which can be true because they are experts at what they do and can deliver the work efficiently. However, for smaller companies, with smaller marketing budgets, the cost of an agency might be prohibitive. Some marketing agencies require a minimum budget to engage, and that may be outside of your budget.
If you have a marketing budget that is small in comparison to the results you need it to produce, you may be better to hire a generalist who can focus 100% of their time on your marketing and do a variety of things like writing blogs, producing videos, optimizing the website, running social media, and analyzing data to see what works. Generalists may not move the needle as quickly as an agency, but they may be able to deliver more work within a smaller budget. And as long as they can move the needle fast enough to achieve your goals, this might be the better option.
Knowing When To Hire A Marketing Agency
There’s no definite formula for deciding when you should work with an agency and when you should do things on your own. It will partly depend on whether or not you want to commit to having marketing be one of your core competencies within your business and learning to do it really well.
It will also depend on what you want to do and when. Perhaps your marketing team is already swamped with one campaign so you need help and support with another. Or maybe your team just doesn’t have the necessary expertise. But no matter what, knowing the advantages of working with an agency and hiring in-house will help you decide when the time is right to seek outside help and when it’s best to tackle a problem on your own.
If you do choose to hire an agency, make sure you ask the right questions and do your research to ensure that they are the right agency for you.
Check out our hiring a marketing agency resource for more content on all aspects of choosing and working with a marketing agency, or get in touch if you’d like to chat through how LimeLight Marketing can support your business.