Even the most exceptional businesses can’t succeed without serious investment in marketing. For many startups and small ventures, the most accessible solution is conducting your own promotional operations in-house, whether that means hiring a full-time marketing manager, contracting with an experienced freelancer, or doing it yourself. However, if these efforts don’t yield the growth your business needs, you might wonder if it’s time to outsource your efforts to an agency. There are pros and cons to each approach, so consider as many factors as you can to make the right decision for your business.
Agencies Have Access to Top-Tier Resources
You’re an expert in your business’s core competencies, and advertising agencies are experts in theirs: selling other companies’ products and services. Established agencies, even smaller ones, have a depth of experience that’s hard to match for businesses that do anything else. With dedicated staff, equipment, and resources, agencies can make short work of projects that might seem insurmountable for newer businesses, like producing a high-quality video ad or getting in touch with the right public relations players to promote your brand. Naturally, this access comes at a cost, but the return on investment is better than what you could achieve with less-skilled partners.
Beyond talent, marketing firms offer robust technical resources, such as professional cameras and studios, customer relationship management tools, and secure, distributed storage of the assets they generate for your brand, often in a hybridized cloud format. What is hybrid cloud? It’s a resilient way to store data both locally, at the agency, and offsite, in a third-party cloud server. Distributing data across multiple secure locations means that it’s almost impossible for your brand’s assets to be lost in a computer failure. Systems like this are becoming standard for large organizations, but without on-site support, many small businesses can’t take advantage of this type of technology.
Agencies Know Marketing Inside and Out
Agencies have access to the people, tools, and connections they need to create a successful campaign for your business, and the years of experience they have can make the process run more smoothly from start to finish. Having worked on numerous marketing projects, your contact at an agency may already have an idea of the best practices and strategies for boosting sales at businesses like yours, so the trial-and-error period of refining your brand’s messaging can be much shorter.
Similarly, firms have more background in the rules and regulations that govern advertising, which can be critical in the current era of influencer marketing and sponsored content. Clear disclosures that meet FCC guidelines are required by law and failing to abide by them can result in a fine. Experienced marketers can help you avoid any such costly pitfalls.
Agencies Don’t Need You To Supervise
If you work with an agency, you’ll likely begin the process by meeting with an account manager, who will ask for your input to write a creative brief. This document helps the agency’s creative team understand your brand’s values, competencies, and competitors, as well as your strategic marketing goals. It also covers more concrete elements, such as where advertisements will appear and if there are any design elements that must be included.
The creative brief guides any work the agency creates for you, and it’s considered the cornerstone of the design process. However, once you’ve drafted a satisfactory brief, your responsibilities as a client are mostly complete; your main job will be to provide feedback and approve presentations. For some business owners, this is excellent news! You’ll be freed from managing the day-to-day concerns of the creative process. A trusted agency partner can take all the stress out of delegating marketing projects. But if you want to be more involved, the distance can be frustrating.
In-House Marketing Gives You Control
Does the idea of handing your brand assets over to a third-party company make you nervous? You’re not the only business owner to have concerns about the delegation involved in working with a firm. When most of the process is happening offsite and is being managed by people who don’t work for your company, your only insights into the process will come from client presentations and reports.
Keeping your marketing team in-house allows for a greater degree of supervision and involvement. If you have a background in the design, public relations, or advertising realms, in-house marketing might be a better option for maintaining your involvement with the marketing process.
In-House Marketing Lets Your Team Collaborate
It’s common wisdom in the business world that the best ideas often don’t come from siloed workplaces, where each department is isolated from the others. If you can afford to have an expert marketing team sharing space with the rest of your employees, their interactions can yield exceptional creative results. For instance, product development teams benefit from proximity to in-house marketing teams because marketers know what your customers want, and product developers know how to transform those desires into reality. Software companies in particular can use this back-and-forth to iterate a product, updating until it meets their customers’ needs perfectly.
In-House Marketing Makes You a Priority
Small businesses and new brands often struggle with feeling like tiny fish in a very big pond; unfortunately, professional services like agencies may make you feel even smaller. When an agency has several big clients, or just too many clients, newer, smaller partnerships often take a backseat. This can make the agency experience unsatisfying and disempowering; worse, a lack of attention means that you may not get the results you need, despite spending your entire budget. You can try to circumvent this tendency by hiring an agency with a reputation for serving small businesses well, but if you know your marketing plans will require substantial, ongoing involvement, you may want to sidestep the issue entirely and work with someone in-house—even if it means you’ll grow more slowly.
Choosing between agency marketing or in-house options can be difficult, especially since neither are inexpensive. On a tight budget, business owners may be tempted to leverage their own expertise or work part-time with a freelancer they can supervise, but many startups that need strong growth will benefit from outside help. Either choice is a commitment, but a strong marketing effort can transform your business’s sales, and the return will be well worth the investment.
Publish Date: August 30, 2020 1:46 AM