To hire a marketing agency or to keep marketing operations in-house; that is the question. Or, more specifically, what are the pros and cons of working with an agency vs. in-house digital marketing director? With hiring being tough, coupled with not enough time to manage resources as is, it’s a tough question to answer right now. We’ll tell you a little secret: there are many dependencies that impact our answer. Here’s our take to help inform your decision.
What’s Your Goal?
Before you ever make a single business decision, you should clearly define the outcome you’re hoping to achieve. So, if you’re weighing the benefits of hiring a marketing director or an agency, your goal may be something like gaining more customers, expanding brand awareness, growing your business, positioning yourself for an acquisition, etc. But don’t settle for these vague outcomes; get extremely specific.
Let’s say you want to grow your business. Do you want to expand current customer accounts, or acquire new customers? How big do you want to get? Once you do “grow,” what’s next? Think through the desired progression so you know what you’re really aiming toward – and then attach numbers and timeframes.
For instance, you could set 50% year-over-year revenue growth as your goal to achieve by this time next year, with a strategy of upselling current customers as your primary revenue driver. Then once you do grow, you intend to start positioning yourself for an acquisition. That’s a lot more specific than “grow my business,” and these details will help you know whether to keep your marketing in-house or hire an agency.
Cost & Expertise
Although we’re trying our best to be impartial, there are many reasons why you should hire an agency if you’re planning for growth or a lucrative exit. First, consider cost-effectiveness and profitability. Some leaders think they’re saving money by hiring a single marketing director instead of engaging an agency, but they’re usually not looking at the big picture. When you hire a full-time employee, you’re taking on a salary, benefits and other FTE perks. You’re also signing up for time and expense in recruiting, onboarding and possibly training. And, if they suddenly get ill or quit? You have no one waiting in the wings to step in and take over.
On the flip side, you can set a fixed budget with an agency that won’t have to include all the ancillary costs that come with FTEs. You’ll also get access to an entire team of experienced, specialized professionals rather than just one. And, if your main point of contact suddenly ups and leaves? There’s not really a hiccup in your work. The rest of the team is already well-versed in your account, and ready to keep things moving.
Secondly, and this is a really critical factor depending on your goals, agencies have deep expertise. Even someone with experience working as an in-house marketing director will tell you that things move slower in that world. The amount of work they’re exposed to and expertise they gain in three years in-house is equivalent to one year at an agency (or less). This is simply because agencies work on multiple accounts and move faster.
Marketing professionals at agencies must become both incredibly efficient and proficient because they can’t afford not to. They’re also trained to deal with numerous complex situations that they know how to navigate, and are prepared to guide you through. Furthermore, they have people with specialized skills (e.g. SEO, content writing, infographic design) they can pull in on your project as needed, whereas a single marketing director is likely to only have one area of specialty to offer you.
So, not only do you end up paying less overall in the long run for an agency team, generally speaking, but you also get far more expertise, leadership and efficiency too. Hopefully we’ve made the case for why you should hire an agency, but there’s one more thing to consider: the proof. Ask a potential agency for case studies so you can see the kind of results their work really does produce.
Interested in learning more about how we can become your trusted partner to help you set yourself up for your short and long-term goals? Give us a call!