Full disclosure: I run a marketing agency. Hence, I’m in general support of people hiring agencies.
Let me quickly run through why there are many benefits attached to hiring a marketing agency;
Do what you do best:
a lot is piled up on your to-do list already. Fortunately, marketing is easy to outsource. A reputable agency will need your input and they will know how to detail your insight, intentions and uniqueness without using up much of your time. The cost in time alone of building an internal team is remarkably high; hiring, training and managing good marketers takes a lot of time. That’s all time you could have spent running your own business.
Agencies have efficiencies of scale:
reputable agencies invest heavily in tools, know-how and training in ways that are not cost-effective in small internal marketing teams. For instance, at Square Media, we have perfected processes such as paired writing, open book project management and simple pricing. Agencies such as ours are usually a tight knit creative team that continuously learn and share ideas and experiences through various internal platforms & channels and over coffee in company meetings. That kind of expertise is not easy to reproduce in smaller, non-specialist teams.
one of the greatest challenges business face in marketing is that our clients typically write about and discuss their businesses services / products in their own language / jargon, instead of understanding their customers’ needs in their customers’ language. The secret to selling complicated / technical products or services; don’t talk about how technical or complicated your product or service is! Customers don’t care about it; rather their mine driver is understanding how it could solve their problems. An external agency can bring this outsider’s point of view. We develop personas and messaging strategies to make sure that everything we say is directed at your ideal customer. Marketing agencies won’t know your products like you do and that’s precisely why they are good at seeing your business in equal light as your clients.
Easier to scale up and down:
with a marketing agency, clients can scale up their plan any time or scale down their plan at the end of every retainer period. Square Media and a lot of other marketing agencies offer retainers running three, six or twelve months. It’s very flexible. On the contrary, if you hired three or four people to complete the same task, scaling up means hiring new people and scaling down means agonizing layings-off.
No pesky people problems:
managing and getting creative people motivated takes some effort. Building a creative, hard-working culture involves even more effort. Every new recruit is another person to guide, train and appraise. To complicate matters, small teams of marketers in businesses focused on other areas can mostly feel isolated. You can outsource all of those worries to an agency boss.
Multiple skills, one arse to kick:
a lot of skills are required for a modern marketing campaign; writing, graphic design, website coding, email crafting, account management, interviewing, social media, analytics, SEO; the list seem unending. It’s less likely that you find one person who can do all of those things to a high standard and, if you did, they’d probably cost a lot! If you can’t get all those skills to work for you, your marketing will play second fiddle to competitors who do. A reputable agency needs to have a team full of skills they need to compete, and you can benefit from that.
It’s likely to be cheaper:
a monthly retainer should cost less than the staffing costs of a properly sized in-house team. Definitely, that’s the standard we employ for pricing our retainers. But internal staff come with additional, hidden costs like pensions, perks, holidays, training, hiring and time management.
The drawbacks of internal marketing
Should you opt for a marketing agency or a marketing person?
Of course, there are some benefits involved in having an internal marketing team – We understand that… However, there are also many drawbacks some of which are;
it’s appealing to add a marketing role to a person’s already existing job. Conceivably it gets assigned to a salesperson or to an office manager. That’s for starters, but there’s no way that a part-time marketer can ever do everything needed to be done in order to attain strong business growth.
The only marketer in the village:
the next step many companies take is hiring just one marketing person. This is an upgrade on a part-time assignment but it can be a lonely role, with relatively low status. From our experience, on average businesses with turnovers of more than £30 million often had a ratio of just one marketing person to 20 sales staff! The most effective businesses match their marketing resource and their sales resource – Increasing the productivity, and lead conversion rate of each Sales Rep in the process!
Buying the tools but not using them:
as regular users of a wide assortment of marketing software packages for all of our clients, we strongly believe in the power of marketing automation tools being a ‘force multiplier’. However, buying the book is not the same as reading it. We’ve seen many companies purchase Marketing Software Solutions but didn’t ever put it to effective use. Equally, we’ve seen business’s that set up a blog or website and then don’t regularly post on it or keep it up to date. Marketing is a journey not a destination, a process not an event; it’s a continuing investment not an instant purchase.
Delegating to intern:
don’t get me wrong. Interns are fantastic. We found out from our multinational clients how effective it can be to hire and nurture talent. But interns alone cannot answer the many questions posed by marketing. Yes, ‘millennials’ may be more digitally-minded and more comfortable with Facebook than a lot of owner-managers, but you can’t delegate your marketing to people with not enough experience. Just as you wouldn’t hire an intern to do your accounts or manage the factory, marketing carries equal weight in importance and no amount of enthusiasm can cover up for hard-earned experience.
Everybody writes, but not everybody is a writer:
a lot of the work we engage in involves writing content to some degree. Blog posts, white papers, case studies, emails and landing pages all need written copy. It’s easy to think that your colleagues can come up with brilliant marketing copy. Not so easy, in practice. First, they have other tasks to do and even if they’re passionate about writing they might not have enough time to priorities it. Secondly, good marketing copy involves more than just ‘getting words on paper’. A good marketing copywriter understands how to write in such a way that would engage your readers. At Square Media, we work in pairs so there’s always an editor’s eye on everything. It is conceivable to train people to become good, rounded marketing copywriters, it takes us about a year or thereabout to train someone to become a good content writer, but most people don’t have those skills in-built, and most companies don’t have the proficiency to nurture them.
How big companies manage marketing
According to Gartner’s research, large companies spend an average of 10.2% of their annual revenue on marketing. What we learned is that many large companies don’t do the work internally. Instead, marketing managers schedule their marketing strategy and then work with a list of agencies to implement it. These firms have the budgets to fund large internal marketing teams but all they do is work with agencies instead – This is a big arrow pointing at how it should be done!
Companies that grow swiftly invest in marketing. Companies with great marketing employ great agencies. They understand how to select great agencies, manage them, give good well-timed feedback to get the most out of them and give them the encouragement they need to deliver the best work. Anything other than that, to be frank, is a false economy.
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