We’ve had conversations recently with clients, potential clients and other business owners asking the same question, and as a marketing agency, obviously you know our answer is going to be: Hire a Marketing Agency right!?
Okay— it’s not that simple. So let’s break it down, shall we?
The Case for Hiring an in-house marketing employee:
If you have a product-based business, a store front or sell anything tactical directly to consumers (Like a retail store, an e-commerce clothing company, a candle designer and distributor) there is a strong case for having someone on your marketing staff in-house.
You need images of products. You need to document the design process. You need someone “on the ground” with product knowledge and direct experience with what you do and what you sell.
You could get that from an agency. You could box up product and ship it to an agency to photograph themselves. A marketing agency could come in monthly for a photoshoot or strategize on how your team could provide images and content to them- and there are plenty of agencies that do just that. But there will still need to be someone in-house to direct the agency, tell them what products are what, show them what is on sale, what the differences are between Product A and B. And sometimes this is more efficient when it’s done in house.
An agency’s expertise is marketing and strategy– not your product. If what you sell relies on a product expert, that doesn’t mean you can’t use an agency’s services, but you need to have a marketing person in-house with that product knowledge as well.
The Case for Hiring a Marketing Agency:
Hire an marketing agency when you need someone with specific marketing knowledge that you can’t get in-house. Agencies should be experts on the types of marketing they provide, whether that’s digital, social media, PR or traditional marketing. As a business owner, you shouldn’t have to stay up to date on what Instagram and Facebook are doing to change their algorithms that will directly affect your bottom line. Your agency should know about this and other industry trends.
Your agency should have emailed you recently to tell you Twitter messed up and you better change your password (Seriously, do that today if you haven’t yet!). The agency is the industry expert. They get the extra training, learn about the latest tools and methods to take your marketing to the next level.
An agency relationship works best with a partner on the inside. That does not mean you need a marketing person inside— many small businesses use agencies completely for all their marketing. (In fact, half of our clients don’t have marketers on their team- we ARE their marketers!) But there needs to be point person to meet with the agency, direct the agency, approve strategies, tell them about your sales tactics, promotions, events and selling cycle looks like so that your work together is more productive and successful!
You may not need an in-house marketer. We work with many successful businesses who don’t have one. But if you’re going to rely solely on an outside partner, make sure someone at your company is identified as the point person to work on marketing strategies with your agency. This person should have an understanding of the marketing and sales to best serve the agency relationship.
And if you do decide to hire in-house and forego the agency, keep in mind that your marketer can’t do it all. From PPC to SEO to advertising to design to photography to PR and social media- a good marketer will have a basic knowledge of all these tactics, but few have direct, deep experience in everything. And even less have the time and ability to handle everything at once! Most businesses will eventually need to hire an agency for part of their marketing efforts.