Making the decision to hire a marketing agency can be a critical one for your business. Should you risk the expense of an agency, or should you keep your marketing in-house?
Okay, so being the owner of a marketing agency I am, of course, a little biased but having worked as part of in-house marketing teams and having hired numerous agencies over the course of my career I know a little about each course and would like to share that experience with you here.
Hiring the right people
This was probably my biggest headache. Marketing requires many skill sets and online marketing even more. Being able to find someone who is an expert in everything is impossible. So who should I hire?
I might decide to take on someone with a good knowledge of paid search methods. But what if this method didn’t work out for us? What if our competitors where smashing it on social media? Would my paid search expert be able to offer us the advice and technical expertise on Facebook or Twitter? Not really.
So then what do I do? Do I take on a social media expert? What if the same happens again or it just stops working after a while? How do I decide which expert I need? You get my dilemma?
Companies that hire in-house often struggle to diversify their online marketing efforts and as a result, these companies often end up stuck in one marketing channel. And, often, that channel isn’t even working that well.
For example, if you’ve got an amazing lead generation campaign but an ineffective way of converting those leads, your marketing will not be as effective as it could, or should be.
The other problem I had was keeping staff. Marketing experts tend to be creative and this means that they get bored. They typically move companies every 2-3 years in search or new creative challenges. The smaller the company the bigger this problem is too as there is less chance to try new things. This means that I was having to hire and train new people all the time. Nightmare!
But what if I hired them on a part time basis so that they could work for other companies too and therefore be able to keep their creative juices flowing.
The thing is, most marketing experts will not take on a part time job. They are experts in their field and have spent many years practicing and honing their skills and they want to be handsomely rewarded for all that effort. They probably won’t be interested in working for you for just a few hours a week (or month).
This means you don’t have the option of having many experts working for you at any one time. You don’t have the option of being able to try out many methods and strategies to see which one works best for your business.
Yes, you could go down the freelancer route and hire freelancers in various skills to do your marketing for you. But then you have to remotely manage a number of individuals who are all working in their own way. This will mean that cohesion of your marketing will be difficult and your messages may become mixed and confusing as a result.
Having said that, marketing agencies don’t have 100% staff retention either, but the beauty is that the agency has the problem of having to find replacements rather than you.
Because it is the agency, rather than the individual that has the relationship with your business, they can ensure that any new staff member is fully aware of what needs to be done to keep consistency in your marketing campaigns.
Many people make the assumption that hiring a marketing agency is going to be more expensive than keeping the marketing in-house. But here’s something worth remembering…
A post-grad marketing manager is going to cost your business around £30,000 per year. You have to pay their NI contribution, their pension contribution, their holiday pay and maybe sick pay. Now consider what expertise they will bring to your business.
They will have limited practical experience, they will usually be proficient in the offline marketing stuff but what online marketing skills are they bringing to the party? What will they do for you that will bring £30,000 back into your business that year to cover their cost?
On the other hand, a marketing agency has people with all kinds of skills, as I mentioned earlier. They will also have many years of practical experience that they can bring to your business. They will be able to hit the ground running with both online and offline marketing strategies so that you will reap the rewards sooner and all for pretty much the same cost.
Okay, so I get it. a marketing agency is never going to be the same as your own team is it. Having someone sitting in an office down the corridor that you can pop in and talk to. Having full control of what they are doing every minute of the day.
But what about the other side of that argument. Having to deal with the “staff” issues that invariably crop up. Having to cope with covering the sick days, holidays, parental leave days and mental health days. Having to mediate in disputes, having to counsel and comfort and motivate them when they’re having a tough time (in or out of work).
To be honest, I was exhausted with it all, and that was before I even got to do my own job (which was supposed to be overseeing the marketing of the company).
When it comes down to it it is simply a matter of choice. I think that if I ran a very large organisation it would probably be best to have my own in-house marketing team, but for small and medium business I would absolutely use an agency, and here’s why…
- In general, most companies don’t need the dedicated services of a full-time AdWords expert, a full-time designer and a full-time Facebook account manager. But, they would benefit from the services of each.
- Most companies don’t need (or can’t yet afford) to hire a full team of dedicated marketers, so working with an agency can be a great way to widen your marketing net without significantly increasing your overhead.
- Generally speaking, if employee turnover is a problem (or a potential problem), it’s best to go with an agency. This is especially true for smaller businesses. Smaller businesses have less to offer—both in terms of variety and compensation—and typically experience more turnover.
If this post has made you think that maybe you would like to work with an agency, please contact us to see what we can do for you.