Is Working With A Marketing Agency Right For Your Business?


If your business is like most organizations, sales are the lifeblood of your company. How you go about getting them is a very important question–whether you're selling services, products, or a combination of both.

Perhaps you're growing faster than you can keep up with, you're growing too slowly, or you find that your business has simply plateaued. Whatever the case may be for your unique situation, you know that your time is best spent working on your business not managing the day to day aspects of your marketing. You also know that developing an effective marketing strategy will play an important role in the success of your business.

With all of this in mind, you've probably found yourself wondering whether you should start working with either:

  • A marketing agency.
  • An in-house marketing team.
  • Marketing freelancers or subcontractors.

Ultimately, your end goal (more leads and sales) is likely to remain the same–thus the challenge is just to figure out which kind of organization or individual is best suited to help you reach that goal.

Hiring a Marketing Agency vs. In-house Marketing vs. Freelancers/Subcontractors

Should you hire a marketing agency, hire in house, or subcontract out to freelancers? Before we compare each of these options, let's take a moment to define what each one actually does:

Marketing agency:

A marketing agency is a third party company you hire on like you would any other service provider. Perhaps the primary benefit to working with an agency is that marketing is their “bread and butter” so to speak–assuming they're professionals, they can bring to the table highly advanced marketing skill sets, knowledge of what works, and already have all of the tools you might need (e.g., specialized software). Marketing agencies also tend to be substantially more affordable than full time in-house marketing personnel.

In-house marketing:

While an in-house marketing employee or team will almost always be more expensive than a marketing agency or a freelancer, you'll also have the most control over exactly what they're working on. They'll be directly accountable to upper management, and you can hire them based on their personal skill sets and familiarity with your industry. If they need specialized tools or software, you'll be responsible for providing them—but you'll also own those tools. Finally, in-house marketing personnel, over time, are likely to become intimately familiar with the inner workings of your business.

Freelancers:

Freelancer marketing consultants or specialists are individuals or teams who you hire on as subcontractors. Affordability is a primary benefit, as in most cases the assignments you give them can be more “laser targeted” for smaller projects. For example, many organizations have chosen to outsource their social media management to a single freelancer–in addition to being more affordable than an in-house employee, the freelancer is the single point of responsibility for a given task.

The kind of individual or organization you choose to work with is mostly dependent upon your:

  • Goals
  • Budget, and
  • Company size.

For example, if you have 75-100 employees already, half or more of which are in sales positions, you may find yourself in a position to hire an in-house marketing team. Small and mid-sized businesses are likely to find the expert-level skill set and affordability of a marketing agency to be highly beneficial. Finally, start ups, small businesses, and companies with very specific needs may benefit the most from subcontracting freelancers for project-specific needs.

FAQ

Are Freelancers or Subcontractors a Viable Option?

In some specific scenarios, yes. While a freelancer isn't likely to be able to provide your company with the depth and breadth of experience that a marketing agency would, they are useful tools for more smaller, more specific tasks where hiring an agency or in-house employee would be overkill.

What's the Difference Between a Graphic Designer and a Marketing Agency?

A lot!

Think of a graphic designer like an artist (which is, after all, exactly what they are). A marketing agency is more like a tactician–the art will have direction and purpose behind it in such a way that it strategically benefits your business rather than simply “looking good.” A marketing agency is almost certain to employ one or more graphic designers, but the work they provide you with will come from a marketing perspective.

Should I Pay Per-Project or an Annual Fee?

Whether you pay per-project or an annual fee to an agency is highly dependent upon your goals. Some companies choose to hire an agency for specific campaigns—for example, a new product or service roll out that you want to give some extra “oomph” might be a scenario in which per-project makes sense. However, many companies have a need for ongoing marketing assistance, in which case annual fees are likely to be more cost effective.

What to Expect When Hiring an Agency

Just like plumbers, electricians, or any other service provider, it's important to keep in mind that not all marketing agencies are made the same–some are great, some are not. Shop around, have conversations, and thoroughly vet the agency you decide to work with before hiring them.

Think of a high quality agency as your partner–not just an order taker. You should expect to receive well thought out strategic direction and expertise. Furthermore, you won't be responsible for the actual production or “nitty-gritty” of the marketing projects your agency takes on—they already have a team of graphic designers, copywriters, and computer experts.

A marketing agency is more like a tactician–the art will have direction and purpose behind it in such a way that it strategically benefits your business rather than simply “looking good.”

Communication with your agency is key–they're a highly effective tool, but don't expect a 100% “hands off” experience. To help your marketing agency really zero in on the best strategy for your company, you will need to be responsive and thoughtful when answering their questions. You are the leader, your agency will be looking to you to provide guidance when necessary.

Finally, remember that an agency should bring to the table “senior-level” expertise, minus the cost of what this would run you in-house. They should offer full service solutions, rather than pinpointed tasks for hire like you would find with a freelancer. Your agency should also be able to show you proof that your marketing efforts are working.

Final Thoughts

As you consider what kind of marketing help would benefit your business the most, remember that the advice you read online and elsewhere is likely be somewhat generalized—thorough scrutiny of your financial situation, goals, and details related to your specific business type is up to you. As with most things in the business world, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Find the “size” that fits your organization the best.

If strengthening your brand is important to you, we've got a couple of free resources to share with you.

Start by filling out our Google form brief, 8-point branding questionnaire, which will help you solidify the most important thoughts about your business.

Next, read through one of our free ebooks: Sustainable Marketing for Long-Term Business Growth.

Don’t forget we’re always here to help as a full-service marketing agency focused on sustainable marketing. Never hesitate to schedule a call or, if you’re raring to go, fill out our website questionnaire.

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