Marketing has and always will be a core function of any business. It’s one thing to have a great product, but it’s quite another to get this product in front of people and sell it.
So as you might expect, marketing is a rather complex and difficult thing to do well, which leads many companies to choose to work with an outside marketing agency. But is that the right move for your company?
Marketing is personal. To do it right, you need to have an intimate knowledge of the target market as well as the different aspects of your company. So unlike HR process or payroll, which can be outsourced rather easily, marketing needs to be taken more personally. Yet there are definite benefits to working with an outside agency.
Here are some of the pros and cons to help you make the right move for your company.
Here are some of the things you can expect to gain if you choose to outsource your marketing efforts to an agency:
The primary benefit of specialization is that it allows us to do things for cheaper. 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 in marketing. While your team might be good, juggling marketing with their other job tasks is going to hurt efficiency, which in the end costs you money.
Outsourcing to an agency that specializes in this, and that has the staff and resources already in place to get the job done, will likely allow you to engage in this core function of your business for less than if you did it on your own.
Just like a marketing agency can save you money, it can also save you time. Instead of you and your team designing and implementing a campaign, you can leave 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 an idea of the strategy and approach you would like to take. 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.
Building a successful business requires us to be realistic about our limitations. While we may be physically capable of doing many things, trying to do them all isn’t practical. And chances are there are many things others can simply do better than we could ever hope for. Recognizing this is going to improve your business, as it will allow you to get better returns off 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 an all-star marketing team, it’s likely you’ll get better returns from an agency.
Again, this is because agencies are specialized. They will have done numerous campaigns using a variety of marketing tactics to achieve a variety of goals. It’s only natural 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 outsource to other firms.
However, working with a marketing agency isn’t necessarily for everyone. There are some downsides to this practice you should be aware of when considering working with an agency, such as:
Less Hands On
When you work with an agency, you remove yourself from a lot of the processes that go into designing and implementing a campaign. You give high-level ideas and strategy input, and of course you approve the tactics planned, but then you aren’t going to be involved in the day-to-day implementation of the campaign.
For some, this can be a bad thing, largely because it hinders your ability to react to negative situations. For example, say people start responding to some of your content, and the agency begins engaging with them on your behalf. Because they aren’t on the inside of the company, they might not be best equipped to do this. But you won’t likely find out until after the fact, something that can be very nerve-racking for some business owners.
While the possibility certainly exists that a marketing agency will deliver better results than you could on your own, 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 around to colleagues and associates to find out if they have any recommendations for good agencies.
Lack of Flexibility
Again, because you’re not involved in the day-to-day implementation of your campaign, you are going to sacrifice a bit of flexibility. So if you come into work one day with a great idea for a series of blog posts, or for a social media marketing campaign, you can’t just act. You’ll need to first reach out to the agency to figure out how your idea fits into the overall plan.
In some ways this is good, as it helps limit overly-reactive actions. But for some, this can put a real constraint on their ability to adapt on-the-go.
Make Decisions Case By Case
There’s no definite formula for deciding when you should work with an agency and when you should do things on your own. Most of the time it will depend on what you want to do and when. Perhaps your marketing team is already swamped with one campaign so you need help with another. Or maybe your team just doesn’t have the needed expertise. But no matter what, knowing the pros and cons of working with an agency 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.