Should I Hire a Marketing Agency?
Should I Hire a Marketing Agency or an Internal Team?
A company’s needs, goals, and expectations can influence the decision of whether or not to hire a marketing agency or support an internal team. There are pros and cons to both – especially when you start to consider the cost of an employee.
The direct benefit for hiring an agency is access to reliable, flexible talent. On the other hand, you might not need that level of digital support. It’s important for shot callers to evaluate the old adage “you get what you pay for.” What you don’t want to do is pay for something without seeing any value.
Blayzer Digital is a marketing agency home to more than 200 years of combined experience in the digital industry. We specialize in ecommerce, web and app development, design, content, back-of-office tech integrations, and helping companies sell themselves and make more money online. The phrase “it takes a village” applies on the web, though there are specific use-cases for having a dedicated internal marketing and IT department.
Let’s take a closer look at the differences between hiring an agency or an internal team:
Agencies Have a More Diverse Group of Experts
An agency is usually comprised of multiple teams. For example, at Blayzer, we have a strong marketing department that focuses on social media, content, and graphics. They’re flexible and stay up-to-date on the latest trends. We also have a core development team that solves problems and develops tools within various infrastructures. Adjusting to scale and complexity is imperative for developers. A relevant use-case would be creating custom software that allows various online tools to communicate (web hooks, APIs, etc.). A company might have a specific need for a certain piece of software that doesn’t plug-and-play with, for instance, BigCommerce.
Within Blayzer are customer-facing representatives that help clients reach solutions. It may be more efficient for a developer on our end to communicate with the “tech guy” within an organization that has more experience with what needs to happen.
Well-managed agencies are usually comprised of experts that have a vast array of experience. Wearing “multiple hats” is an understatement.
Internal Teams May Be More Receptive to On-Demand Change
If your business decides to hire someone capable of managing digital content and an online presence, the shot-callers will have direct access to a fellow employee. This employee may be part of internal meetings and know the direction a company is going without having to go between various parties to make a decision.
There are pros and cons of this arrangement, too. To start with, finding someone that can do web development, graphics, content, social media, paid ads, and do all of these things well isn’t going to be easy. Most of these multi-talented people are already part of agencies and focus on their strengths and ability to identify solutions to problems outside of their wheelhouse.
Larger businesses and corporations have a better chance at supporting a robust internal team that can handle web work. For smaller and mid-sized companies, it often makes more sense to have an employee (like a COO, CTO, or office administrator) that knows enough about everything to coordinate with an outside agency on a case-by-case basis.
Agencies are usually busy or else they wouldn’t exist. You might not get a right-now change or update if it doesn’t fit into their schedule. This is why it’s important for agencies to scope work appropriately and stick to honest timelines. Some agencies follow the sprint model and push work out the second it comes in – others are more flexible and allow for emergency services. Which is better? It depends on your needs.
Agencies Save You Money
More often than not, it’s more cost-effective to hire an agency than it is to support an internal employee. This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s very common for smaller businesses to get more value out of a long-term agency relationship. There are several reasons for this, such as growing with a small business, learning about that business, and being able to flex with budgets. A dedicated employee that runs a website or online store might not have a lot to do or know what to do – which is a salary not being used to its full potential.
Good agencies understand the symbiotic relationship between their talent and their clients. For example, let’s say you own a residential landscaping business. Your busy season is spring and early summer and you want to increase your number of routine services. A sharp agency will have the intuition to approach you before your busy season to set up landing pages, SEO, and even social media campaigns that directly target homeowners looking for routine landscaping services. This is the core benefit to an agency – the need to help businesses grow in order to grow themselves.
Wasted & Lost Time
For smaller businesses, it’s usually up to the owner to take care of everything digital. This can take up a lot of time and lead to various deadends. Even setting up a Facebook campaign can take several hours if you’re not sure what you’re doing and having to Google everything. An agency can take pressure off senior management. If they don’t perform or do what they say they’re doing? Then it’s time to look for a different solution. You’re paying them as a contractor, not an employee.
However, a good agency relationship is almost like having multiple experts working as a single employee.
A Healthier Perspective
It can be difficult for business owners who have spent 10, 20, or even 30 years building their company to take a step back from “their baby.” That “baby” can be a website they put together late at night on their own, an ad campaign, a tediously stitched together newsletter series, or anything else that they’re proud of and passionate about.
An agency has the advantage of an unbiased perspective. Let’s return to the landscaping service: You, for example, might only want jobs for properties worth more than a million dollars within 20 minutes of your shop. This is your bread and butter. But, for example, what happens when you dedicate all of your time to finding these A-plus clients and you don’t have a strong enough revenue stream to support your once-growing company? It can be difficult for management and even employees to identify things like stability, safe bets, and even opportunities that can lead to bigger ones. An agency can provide that outside perspective and take the pressure off of these sorts of decisions.
When Should You Hire a Marketing Agency?
There are a handful of key indicators that are common among businesses facing this decision. Here are a few common reasons why companies turn to a marketing agency:
- You’re struggling to take any of your marketing efforts to fruition.
- You’re spending too much time hunting for freelancers to do odd-jobs.
- You can’t justify hiring an internal person. They may not have the niche skillset you need, or are just a vanity hire.
- If your company is all but nonexistent on the Internet.
- If your online store doesn’t make any additional revenue.
- If competition is making strides in the marketplace and you feel left behind.
With deeper specializations, big-picture approaches, and reliability, hiring an agency is almost always a more strategic play for business owners.
One of the most important things a company can do when they hire an agency is to decide who the go-between is going to be. Is that the owner? A c-level employee? Someone with experience in marketing or tech? Too much communication can be as confusing as too little. Find a balance with an agency you can trust.
Juggling freelancers can also be a major time sink for companies. You have to vet them, get them up to speed, and hope they complete whatever task they’re assigned. This process usually takes longer and more effort than calling your agency to take care of a project. There’s more reliability with an agency as opposed to a free agent that likely doesn’t care about doing a good job, just getting a job done.
What To Look For in an Agency
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you’re shopping for an agency partnership. Note that these are case-by-case bullet points that may or may not apply to your needs:
- Is the agency willing to provide you with references or talk about their retention rates? Ask!
- What’s the average revenue stream for the agency’s clients? Does the agency prefer to work with larger companies, or do they value smaller accounts as well?
- What kind of contract (if any) does the agency prefer? Be wary of long-term commitments and being “ghosted.” This is a huge problem in this industry.
- Ask your agency who their ideal client is and what industries they prefer to work with. Some agencies are very niche (medical, legal, manufacturing, etc.) and others utilize a broad range of specializations.
- Ask your agency how they prefer to communicate. Is it over phone, Zoom, a CMS, email, in person?
- Ask your agency if they provide project updates and regular reporting. This is especially important if you’re running paid ads and have an SEO campaign in place.
- Ask your agency how they keep up with evolving digital trends and new technologies. Google, for example, can change its search algorithms dramatically with little to no warning.
When you start looking at the bigger picture, you can see how an agency can actionably and effectively arrive at each questions’ answer. It’s not unheard of to have a skilled, multi-talented employee (or employees) that can effectively manage a company’s digital profile. It’s rare, though, and more often than not more costly than going the agency route.
The Bottom Line
Qualified agencies can pack a lot of firepower into their capabilities. It really depends on what your needs are. For example, you might not need a full 40 hours of work per week for someone to write blog posts, update product information, and take up a desk. What you might need is an agency that can do maintenance, keep things updated, and be called upon to work on special projects.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to Blayzer Digital now for more information about working with an agency and our capabilities.