As a growing small business, do we hire a Marketing Agency or build up an In-House Marketing Team?
Whilst the very fact that ourselves and other agencies have been successfully trading for many years (over 22 in our case) would indicate that many companies are happy to outsource marketing, this doesn’t really tell the whole story as the optimum situation for marketing, as with many other business functions, probably lies in a compromise with in-house staff working hand in hand with an external agency.
But there’s no right or wrong answer to this – it all depends on an individual business’ resources and needs – but there are a few generic issues that business leaders may wish to consider.
Firstly, what kind of expertise do you require? In-house staff, in addition to marketing knowledge and skills, will have intimate knowledge of the company and its offering, what has worked before and what has not, what the competition are offering and will spend their time solely on your business. Conversely, with an agency, you’ll get access to a wide variety of expertise in various disciplines and a completely fresh perspective on your marketing challenges which will be able to draw upon many years of experience from a variety of sectors.
Secondly is budget. Overall, working with an agency is probably less expensive than employing specialised in-house staff, but remember, you’re not just paying for your Account Manager but also for access to the entire team behind him or her and their inherent additional expenses. External agencies, however, are results driven – they know their service has to add value to their clients’ bottom line or their contracts are unlikely to be renewed and there’s no HMRC, holiday, maternity/paternity, pension or redundancy considerations requiring your consideration.
Thirdly is your timeline. It takes time to recruit, hire and train your in-house staff to the level of expertise that an agency can very quickly provide and, if time is crucial due to external pressures such as competition, businesses should consider agencies.
Fourthly, is creativity. Internal staff may have years of experience in your business but in reality, is this not just one year repeated many times over whilst external agencies bring a fresh look with ideas collected from different campaigns in different sectors. Crucially, external staff are also not affected by internal office politics, so often a barrier to not only creativity, but also productivity.
In essence, different people thrive in different environments – clients visiting agencies often comment on the seemingly ‘laid back’ feel to them yet this is precisely the environment that creative people traditionally require to perform to their full potential. Copywriters, designers, photographers, developers and the host of other specialists that agencies employ may not always conform to external standards in other commercial environments, but they produce superb work in their own.
A final consideration is how you wish to communicate to your marketing staff. At the beginning of an agency relationship, there will be frequent meetings as the agency understands your brief and challenges and then develop a strategy to fulfil this. The frequency invariably reduces as the relationship develops, replaced by e-mails, telephone conversations and, especially in our pandemic world. digital meetings. For some clients, this is fine, but having the resource in-house, allows you constant access and the ability to work side by side with immediate updates.
So, to my mind the optimum solution is a halfway house with a small in-house team or individual dealing directly with an external agency. Such a situation creates the best of both worlds – internal product and service knowledge coupled with external marketing expertise.
So, why not play to everyone’s strengths rather than their weaknesses? Use your own team’s abilities wherever possible but take advantage of the unique creativity, experience and expertise that external assistance can bring. If the two can then be merged, you have the winning combination of in-house product/service and market knowledge with external expertise.
Do you need some assistance with your marketing, PR or design? Do you need to review your strategy or do you want to know how we can help your business? Email your questions anonymously to us today firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet us (not so anonymously) @SilverBulletPR.