Unfortunately, many in-house marketers have had bad experiences with agencies, causing them to shy away from outsourcing marketing at all. The next time they need to plug a skill gap in their team, they opt to hire in-house instead.
The truth is that there are pros and cons to doing both. Sometimes, building out your internal team is the best course of action. But other times, outsourcing the resource-intensive parts of your marketing strategy to an experienced agency may be exactly what you need. You just need to find one that you can trust.
Here’s what happens when you decide to hire in-house, and quickly realise that you should be outsourcing to an agency instead.
There are more gaps to fill
Let’s take Jay and use him as an example for a moment. You’ve just hired him as a content marketing manager to help Sally, your talented head of marketing in your in-house marketing team.
Jay has 3 years’ experience working as a marketing assistant at a finance firm where he was responsible for writing marketing material, the occasional email campaign, and a company newsletter. His resume looks good and he impressed everyone in the interview, so naturally, Sally thinks he’ll be a great addition to the company.
Things start off great with Jay - he is a great writer - but when it comes to actually distributing the content, or reporting on its effectiveness in generating leads, Jay seems to fall short. Staff turn a blind eye and chalk it up to him being new and learning the ropes.
But after a few weeks, Sally feels that Jay’s expertise is only good for writing very product-focused pieces of content - and Jay needs a lot more direction on the content strategy than Sally thought he would need.
Sally is now realising that many skills - not just the ability to write - are needed to execute content marketing effectively, and she’s wondering how she can change the role to suit Jay, instead of the other way around.
Now, let's imagine that you had opted to work with an agency instead of hiring Jay. Yes, they’re more expensive. But rather than working with one person who you hope will become a jack of all trades, an agency gives you access to multiple jacks of multiple trades - meaning you have all your bases covered.
And while an agency may be more expensive than Jay, it’s less of a commitment overall, and you can dial their work up or down as needed.
It’s harder to think outside the box
Creatives like to be tasked with work that requires some level of ingenuity. So when you hire a creative in-house, and then subject them to rigid rules and brand guidelines (that don’t change), the frustration is palpable. It’s like buying your kid a colouring book, then doing it for them.
Staff are left feeling uninspired and trapped in a bubble – but you just hired them. So they’ll probably ride it out for 2-3 years before moving on to something new and different.
On the contrary, creatives at an agency are constantly inspired, because they’re involved in so many different projects. Moving from one client to another is a fresh and welcomed opportunity to refuel their creativity. Plus, it means they’ve accrued a wealth of knowledge across industries that you’ll get access to by working with them.
You’ll never have to worry about keeping the agency on their toes. You’d have more luck getting home loan advice from a dog than finding an agency who wasn’t passionate about marketing.
There’s more of a commitment
While agencies will likely have a higher hourly cost than an in-house marketer, that marketer is a fixed overhead cost, which might include training, benefits, annual leave, sick leave etc. They’re also harder to get rid of if they’re not fulfilling their objectives.
When you hire an agency, you only pay for what you need, and if you’re focused on getting the most out of your agency, you can really get dividends in return. Also, you can start with a small project to test them out, and move on to bigger projects once they’ve proven themselves.
And when it comes to metrics, agencies are 100% accountable. While it was once quite difficult to pin down marketing’s worth to a business, with analytics and marketing automation tools, it is now much easier to set and track performance metrics. Your marketing agency can therefore be accountable for their results, which should be music to the ears of anyone who cares about their bottom line.
So how do you find the right agency?
There are good agencies and then there are duds. So when looking for a marketing agency, it’s best to first establish what you want out of them. An agency who specialises in the fields that you are looking for will have a better understanding of your industry and what marketing techniques will work best for your business.
They’ll also have a better chance of getting you results in a shorter time frame, as they’ll have dealt with other companies similar to yours before. You want to avoid choosing an agency who has had no experience with similar businesses, as it will take them longer to acquire a solid understanding of your marketing needs.
When it comes to cost, a common misconception about agencies is that you have to sign up on a contractual basis. This is not always the case - many agencies offer package deals or monthly retainers. However, good digital marketing improvements are the result of monthly monitoring and analysis. It’s not something that happens overnight - which is why retainers are a great way to ensure that you keep moving in the right direction.
If you’re ready to dip your toes into inbound marketing (but lack the in-house resources to do it effectively), download our guide on how to choose the perfect inbound marketing agency for your business.
April 19, 2018