Should you keep your marketing in-house or outsource it to an agency?
It’s a heavy question each startup needs to consider. After all, the average company spends 11 percent of its total budget on marketing, while some businesses devote as much as 24 percent of their budgets to this necessary function. Consequently, plenty of founders and executives wrestle with how to handle their organization’s marketing.
Both internal and external marketing afford key advantages, as well as ramifications. Case in point: Having a team of marketers in-house makes accessibility to personnel a breeze. Have a question about branding? Walk down the hall or turn to the person sitting next to you in your open workplace.
However, finding talented marketers takes significant upfront time and investment dollars, not to mention ongoing costs such as salaries, training and benefits. Plus, internal marketers are expected to stay on top of industry trends; this can be a challenge when they’re also juggling other responsibilities that bubble to the surface as a full-time employee.
Want to alleviate these concerns and get the benefits of an intact, well-rounded marketing team from day one? That’s the role of an external agency. External agencies not only bring expertise to the table, but they’re focused on all aspects of up-to-date marketing practices — and that’s all. Instead of getting bogged down in your company’s corporate culture, they serve as an enhancement to your mission and vision.
At the same time, they’re not sitting on their laurels when it comes to technology. Typically, top-notch marketing agencies work with leading-edge software, which gives your company the same access by proxy.
Of course, there are downsides to working with a marketing agency. Not only do you have to hunt for the best one for your needs, but you have to find the best partner for your budget. The required due diligence will take time. And although the firm will be available to you, you’ll have to pick up the phone, send an email or dash off a text to communicate with the contractors.
Which approach will work best for your marketing needs? To help you decide, we compiled 4 essential questions to ask yourself before pulling the trigger.
- Does Your Staff Have The Required Resources And Skills For Your Needs?
Understand which marketing tactics your business needs and the resources and skill level needed to do it. If you’re interested in social media and doing a weekly newsletter, you can likely find a local specialist and hire in-house. If you’re looking for more comprehensive marketing services, an agency is a better bang for your buck as they often have staff skilled in many areas of marketing
- Are You Willing To Invest In Continuous Learning And Development?
If you bring digital marketing services in-house, you will need to help that team stay educated in their respective specialties – in professional organizations, we often hear brand-side digital marketers saying they are isolated as the only expert in their company. So a willingness to invest in education and staff development has to be there from Day One. If it’s not, consider a partner.
- Who Do You Trust?
When it comes to digital marketing, you are very likely betting the future of your business. The bet is big, so you can’t afford to get this wrong. Those who master digital will win. Those who flounder, fail to execute, lack strategy or don’t produce meaningful outcomes will fail. So you have to ask yourself: Who am I confident in? Who has an unquestionable history of delivering results?
- What Value Are You Getting For The Cost?
When evaluating an in-house position versus hiring an outside agency, the math needs to be done to compute the true cost of each employee/hire. With an agency, you get an entire team of support and not just one person, so often times you can get more for less than the true cost of each employee hired
Now after you have identified the hard answers to these four questions above you really have 4 paths to choose from, depending on your objectives and financial considerations.
1 – Build an internal marketing team.
Are you set on having an in-house marketing team that deeply understands your corporate goals? Roll up your sleeves and flesh out your job descriptions. Then, post on the top sites to woo candidates for such roles as copywriters, search engine optimization specialists, content managers, web designers, social media managers and market analysts.
Expect to spend months on-boarding your new hires; in most cases, your marketing team won’t operate at peak efficiency for up to a year — or longer. However, many leaders who are able to form these teams, are staunch supporters of the approach.
2 – Use multiple marketing firms for various services.
Your marketing plan includes digital, print, television, content, influencer and a host of other marketing expectations. Why not work with niche marketers and agencies to handle each of these areas? That way, you’ll benefit from their specialized expertise.
Of course, you will have to pay for each, which can bring costs close to in-house team levels.
That’s why a thoughtful selection of these strategic partners is so important. For example, some agencies specialize in crafting creative that drives digital response, but also works with both clients and partner agencies to develop, test and adjust audiences and strategy before and during campaign execution. This approach means that the agency remains a close partner, rather than a “hired gun”. Through this coordinated solution, you can benefit from a wide range of viewpoints and experiences.
3 – Choose “a la carte” options with a single agency.
Plenty of companies have inside marketing teams that need help in specialty areas. When they want specific tasks completed, they hire out. A la carte services offer cheaper prices without reducing the level of marketing expertise. For instance, Luna Digital performs marketing services a la carte via month-to-month contracts, which means the agency constantly has to prove its return on investment to clients. This approach not only lowers the risk for your company, but it instills greater trust in your partner agency when it hits a home run early in the relationship.
4 – Consider a dedicated boutique agency.
A boutique agency with a singular focus — your company — ensures your marketing campaigns receive the full attention required for maximizing their profitability. Such agencies work completely for your organization as a unit, providing established coordination and a strong knowledge base. However, they aren’t your employees, so you don’t have to worry about paying for health insurance and other perks. The company partners with just one new client per year, dedicating significant resources to helping that single partner succeed. This singular vision, while it can be pricey, is an exceedingly efficient way to bring sufficient expertise to the table.
As your company evolves, you may find yourself moving between a number of marketing approaches to achieve your primary aims cost-effectively and efficiently.
Start by mapping out the monies you can allocate toward marketing, as well as the results you want an in-house or outsourced marketing team to achieve.
With a bit of analysis, you’ll quickly recognise the smartest approach for your business.