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Do I Really Need a Marketing Agency?

Posted by Mary Ann Hegvold on April 3, 2019

Countless members of senior management across companies both large and small, find themselves asking the same question: why do we need to hire a marketing agency when we have dedicated marketing staff?

It's a fair question, but one that should be addressed impartially if you have goals that you need to meet that are based on the marketing team's performance. In most cases there are so many ideas and priorities given to a marketing team, they can't get them all done in the timeframe needed. It's a common challenge. 

Time. resources. budget.

Getting to the goals relies on the careful balance of time, resources, and budget. Those with industry experience are well aware of the fact that, more often than not, you usually can't nail down all three of these at once. We typically talk to companies that have deadlines, but not enough resources to get it done in the required period of time. 

Hiring an agency won't automatically solve the issue of there being too little time. The fact is that some things just take time to see results. But extra hands, and potentially some slightly different approaches to getting things done, can compress that timeline so that the results are seen sooner.

The ideal marketing strategy will seek to leverage each of these three things in the most efficient way possible.

The decision of whether or not you need a marketing agency to successfully reach your goals on time will come down to understanding the consequences for failing to meet them. 

What are Your Goals?

Provided you've created SMART goals that are achievable, and meaningful, you likely have time-bound obligations that require you to direct attention and resources into doing what's required to fulfill them.

For example: Your company is seeking to grow leads from 10% of website visitors to 30% in the next six months.

Now... how do you get that done? And what happens if you don't?

Consider the consequences of not meeting a goal with strict parameters and a tight timeline. Will it mean that your company misses out on overall annual revenue goals? A consequence the company likely wouldn't be able to afford (literally in some cases, figuratively in others).

However... 

While goals like the one mentioned above need to get done, they're never going to be an organization's only priority. Which means, it's likely only one of several priorities for the in-house marketing team.  Now you're back to considering the time/resource/budget balance.

Should you Hire an In-House Resource or a Marketing Agency?

This gets down to a few key things: budget, first and foremost, and the long-term need for an additional staff member. Utilizing budget, the marketing team can consider a few options:

  1. Hiring another marketing staff member - It can take a while to find the right person, and you will need the budget for an annual salary.
  2. Hiring contractors to handle marketing - This can work but the department could end up with several different contractors, all with varying ideas and approaches that may not gel together well. It also requires a lot of oversight by the internal marketing staff.
  3. Hiring a marketing agency - This can be an interim solution or a long-term one that brings the skills of multiple people to the table to help you meet your goals.

There are ideal times (and not-so-ideal times) for each of these options. We'll discuss the benefits and process of hiring an agency to help meet marketing goals and with the obvious concern about cost.

Leveraging a Marketing Agency to Help Meet Your Goals

If you determine that a single agency with the skills you need to reach your goals is the best option, at least for now, it's time to evaluate budget. While hiring on a marketing agency can feel expensive, it's important to remember that you're gaining the experience and skills of several people working on your account. And that can open up doors that you hadn't thought of before. 

Take some time to determine if a marketing agency will make it possible for you to:

  • Leverage the skills of multiple marketing, design, & development experts

    The skills and ideas brought to the table by the agency team members can complement the in-house marketing staff's areas of expertise. With the broader skill set you can do more can in the required time period.
  • Give fresh perspective on the best ways to achieve goals

    There is valuable and varied insights from the agency team members as to what constitutes a successful campaign and what tools should be utilized to get there. 
  • Achieve your goals by getting the work done

    Even if you have only one goal, it would can take an immense amount of work to achieve it in the span of just a few months. That's typically more work than one person can achieve on their own, or even have the skill set to achieve on their own. This become especially true when it's not the only project being worked on. The internal marketing staff can then shift into the role of managing the marketing team that will get the day to day work completed for reaching the goal. 
  • Implement a more efficient work process for your marketing team

    When your team has to do everything on their own, it can be a one-way path to burnout. Your team will still have the freedom to lead the marketing charge and experience the benefits of making process without being run into the ground. No one likes that gut wrenching feeling of despair when you're too overloaded to get it all done on time. Spread out the work.

How to Select the Right Marketing Agency to Work With

There are five areas of focus that can help you during the assessment process as you choose a marketing agency:

1. Determine what kind of help you would like.

If you have just one person on your marketing staff, it may be good to bring in an agency who can do everything from work with you on strategy all the way through execution with idea generation all along the way. If you have an in-house designer or a writer, then talk to the agencies about how you'd like to use your internal team's time and skills alongside the agency's work.

2. Assess the agencies based on their ability to meet your needs.

Consider their:

  • Level of expertise – Opt for marketing agencies with experience on their side; try to speak to previous partners and clients for an idea of success rates. Ask if there are other businesses in your industry that they are experienced with.
  • Vision for your organization The ideal agency will be able to iterate what your company is trying to achieve after spending time talking. If you feel like they "just aren't getting it" then you're probably right. Keep looking for a group that really understands.
  • Skill supplement – If you use HubSpot or other marketing tools, be sure the agency is experienced. There should only be a learning curve for your specific situation, not for learning the software or technologies you use.

3. High-level of expertise in your marketing technologies.

If you choose an agency, it's best to be sure they are familiar with, and like using, any marketing tools that are required on your end. This can be things like HubSpot, Marketo, Salesforce, etc. Choosing an agency that is certified in, or at least regular users of the tools you use, can bring new ways of doing things based on the agency's experiences with other companies. 

4. Be sure your personalities jive with the agency team's. 

You're going to work with a marketing agency much like you would another internal team member. You'll need to communicate, a lot. And having a good rapport is an important gut check as you talk to agencies.  If your personalties aren't clicking, or feel like you're talking two different languages, move on to someone else. 

5. Budget check.

Not all marketing agencies charge equally. Based on experience, technologies and demand, marketing agencies prices can vary. It's going to take budget to meet your goals on time. Be realistic with what it really costs, but also with what you can afford. More than likely the agency is going to ask some questions about this.  They don't want to waste your time by suggesting a plan and a team that you won't be able to afford. Try to have a target range, at least, so you can both use your time effectively and if they're not in the right range you can keep looking.

Teaming up with an innovative marketing agency can be a critical step to success for a business within any industry. And of course, we share these things today based on our own experiences with clients and potential clients we've talked to over the years. 

If you're considering whether a marketing agency is the right solution for you, let's talk. We'll give you an honest assessment of what might work well for you.

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Marketing ROI, Marketing Strategy