In the years I have spent as a marketer, I have met many business leaders who have always struggled with the key business decision: “Should I hire in-house marketers or work with a marketing agency?!”
This makes sense, as there are, of course, both advantages and disadvantages in reaching out to an agency – whatever your business. The main thing to remember in this debate is to make the decision that’s right for your company.
The key is defining your organization’s marketing goals and weighing them against your own team’s strengths and weaknesses. Now, I realize that assessing your own limitations isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, but it’s a critical exercise to determine whether your marketing initiatives should stay in-house, or require assistance from outside experts.
I have to admit that even the team at WSI have done both. As well as our team of in-house marketers, we have a global network of marketing and media experts whom we can call on if a project needs some specialized expertise. As well as this, we have a further support network of partners who are on hand to help with the various applications we use as an agency.
Example: Our Sharpspring contact for marketing automation is on hand in case we have a specific client requirement for email and personalisation.
Having read the title of this blog, you would be forgiven for thinking this was a persuasion piece all about how “Your business needs an agency”. In fact, we cover both sides of the equation and discuss the different factors to consider when deciding if it suits your business to talk to an agency… or not.
Factor #1: Your Company Culture, Vision and Values
I’m going out on a limb here by assuming you’d prefer to work with marketers who align with your company’s culture, vision, and values; most businesses do. And generally speaking, it’s easier to accomplish this by hiring from within. Naturally, a full-time, internal employee is much more closely invested in a company’s success and growth than any external agency team would be. If you are to consider an agency, choose one that upholds at least some of these values, as you will find you can work much better with a team who are singing from the same hymn sheet.
Factor #2: The Need for a Wide-Ranging Skill sets
Depending on your company’s marketing strategies, your team might need access to several different skill sets, like web development, social selling expertise, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising – you get the point. It can be very difficult to build a team with all this talent in-house. Naturally, agencies are already equipped with knowledgeable professionals who specialize in all areas of marketing. In other words, agency teams can be your one-stop-shop for all things marketing and accommodate whichever marketing tools and tactics you are willing to explore. Expect to dedicate time and patience if you plan to recruit, screen and hire a full-service in-house marketing team to fulfill these roles.
Factor #3: Keeping a Competitive Edge with Industry Best Practices
You’ve heard us talk endlessly about the evolving landscape of digital marketing. Tactics and tools that once worked yesterday, won’t necessarily be effective tomorrow. Competition is tough, technologies change at lightning pace and if you’re caught singing the same old tune, your business will eventually get left behind. Luckily, staying on top of the latest and greatest digital marketing best practices is an agency’s bread and butter. A decent marketing agency already comes with all the bells and whistles when it comes to the industry’s must-have technologies. As a partner to companies like Facebook and Google, we often get early access to the latest, ground-breaking technologies and educational marketing conferences – most of which simply aren’t within reach for in-house marketing teams.
Factor #4: How Quickly Do You Need to Ramp Up Marketing?
Depending on your situation, you might need to jump on your marketing right now. Let’s say, for example, you discover you’re losing sales because your closest competitor just launched a user-friendly eCommerce website and yours isn’t equipped to facilitate online purchases. Obviously, your website needs a speedy overhaul to improve your customers’ online experience. And the speediest way to do this is NOT by posting a job, reviewing resumes, conducting three rounds of interviews, calling references…you get the picture. Marketing agencies are designed to jump in quickly and efficiently so your team can adapt to your marketing strategies sooner rather than later. Ultimately, urgencies that affect your bottom line are better handled by agency teams.
Factor #5: A (Much) Larger Network of Brainpower
This is similar to #2 above, but reaches far beyond specialized skill sets of your marketing team: you’ll find that in-house marketers generally don’t have all the required tools as a full-service agency will. So if you were ever in need of supplementary marketing services – think along the lines of customer service script writing, video production, traditional PR services – your best bet would be leveraging an agency. Due simply to an agency’s structure, they are more likely to have these supplementary sources and resources than in-house marketers.
In the end, the answer to the question of whether you should outsource your marketing or keep it in-house is entirely dependent on your situation. When you go over our 5 key business factors of the in-house marketing vs. marketing agency debate, do you find yourself or your team, leaning one way or the other? That could be your answer.
Seeking out the expertise an agency can offer could be the difference between a successful campaign or project and a harsh (and sometimes costly) learning experience. It’s important to always remember these words: If you think hiring a professional is expensive, just wait till you hire an amateur!