You and your team have gotten where you are by being versatile, flexible, and capable; that is a wonderful thing and should be part of why you are so proud of your business. However, many businesses put themselves on a path toward growth and start to notice that more and more people in the business are being pulled from their expertise to work on marketing related efforts. Certainly, it is possible to hire your own marketing person, but there is a reason why many companies choose to focus on their expertise and hire a collective of marketing experts via an agency. Here are a few ways you might notice that an agency is the right direction for you; these signs can also mean that you are at the growth stage when making this move is the smartest next step.
You’ve made some great hires, clearly, but it is possible that the qualities that make for a great hire in your industry don’t translate perfectly to a marketing individual. You may need more creative vision, more sales-related savvy, and particular design strengths that aren’t daily aspects of your current work. The benefit of hiring an agency is that they will find the creative designers and analysts (usually from a long-established team) themselves, and their past work will be what draws you to them. Hiring an agency, in this respect, requires less hiring precision than finding a new dedicated employee of your business; you get to take advantage of their expertise. If you’ve tried a marketing intern or employee or two and haven’t yet found the right fit, an agency might be the right next step.
Business executives often end up doing some ad-hoc marketing because they understand their businesses so well, but you only have so many hours in a day! Even if your efforts are effective, you are more likely to achieve long-term success with a sustainable strategy that will not burn you and your fellow team members out. Choosing to contract out to a Marketing Agency can be a step in the direction of work-life balance; if you simply love those 12 hour days in the office, you still get to re-align back to the things you most want to do, where your knowledge moves the needle, when you outsource your marketing needs.
Not everyone is in this place, but sometimes an honest look at one’s marketing efforts reveals that even the effective strategies are being chosen haphazardly, when opportunity arises, rather than as part of a cohesive mission and strategy. Businesses that are in it for the long haul figure out their near-term and long-term goals and chart a course that gets them there, both in marketing and in every aspect of business growth. A marketing agency will have substantial experience charting strategy in consultation with businesses, allowing them to facilitate important big-picture conversations about where you want your business to go in the future, and so if those conversations are being put off but need to happen, the marketing agency you hire could be a catalyst for your best interests.
Startup companies and SMEs (small and mid-sized enterprises) are distinct entities, but everyone has some time in-between, when growth is happening but you are still not fully accustomed to your larger size. During a time like this, a Marketing Agency is in a unique space to provide a level of service that is more easy to manipulate than full-time or part-time employees; by contracting for services rather than hiring people, you know exactly what you are getting and can re-evaluate your contract when you need new and different services. Marketing Agencies form relationships with your business but they don’t always have to provide the same types of marketing for your brand; the flexibility to shift and change is invaluable.
Many organizations create and implement excellent marketing initiatives themselves, but either don’t have anyone with expertise in marketing analytics and reports or they simply don’t have the bandwidth to devote human resources to those tasks. Marketing tools consistently receive the best ROI when used as part of a data-driven workflow that promotes continuous improvement, and Marketing Agencies will strongly advocate for learning as much as possible from the results of every campaign. Hiring an agency allows you to avoid continuing in channels that don’t make sense for your product or service; they have the background to have smart hunches about what will work, but they also can address the unique situation of your organization and the data that is rolling in with every marketing effort you try.
Sometimes, marketing is going well in a business and the organization does a wonderful job of figuring out what they want next and exactly what can be achieved over time. Even if this feels like something you can do yourself, having these pieces of information doesn’t disqualify you from being a good fit for a Marketing Agency; in fact, realism and defined goals actually help you get the best possible results out of a Marketing Agency! When you know what you want, your meetings with the agency are fruitful and efficient, and they will have great insight into whether your estimates of time and resources align with their observations in similar industry jobs. Your organization and planning can go farther when you combine them with the expertise of a Marketing Agency with years of industry know-how.
Sometimes the sign is written in the gorgeous new website your biggest rival just rolled out; Marketing Agencies know all too well how important a well-defined brand image can be when in a race against a competitor, and getting your marketing ducks in a row cannot happen too soon when you are trying to compete. Your agency can help you leverage the attention your competitors are getting with any new marketing efforts in order to see whether you pursue a fully different or fairly similar strategy; your competition is playing their hand all the time, and your Marketing Agency will be your ally in competing smarter along the way.
The above situations may not perfectly fit you, but you may notice that they could become relevant in the near future. So when is it better to move to hire an employee or a team of marketing professionals, and when is it best to contract out your marketing efforts? While there are certainly industries and life stages of businesses where a team or an employee on site makes sense, marketing agencies do offer enough benefits that hiring one early, even for limited work, may be better than waiting too long to get the services you need.
Any strategy that requires you to shift strategy abruptly could be effective or ineffective, and it will be hard to know whether the quick changes or the strategy itself is to blame. Regardless of how you choose to go with your marketing choices, you are more likely to see results and compounding positive ROI when you stick with a strategy for a while, pivoting intelligently in response to the analytics that results from successive campaigns. Thus, if you think a marketing agency would be a good idea in 6 months or a year, doing some early projects with them now may be a valuable way to start implementing a long-term strategy.
When doing marketing in-house, the world of digital marketing is likely already starting to change no matter how much research you’ve done. If you know that your needed marketing tools will be in the digital marketing vein, a reputable digital marketing agency will have their fingers to the pulse of the latest thing, which may save you time testing technology that has already been dismissed as less effective. Obviously, you may also be at the cutting edge of marketing tools, but a marketing agency is definitely a good way to avoid spending your current marketing dollars on training and retraining in various tools.
Unlike writing job descriptions and getting someone in, a marketing agency is fairly easy to talk to and consult on the scope of services you need. Having a conversation can quickly show you whether this particular agency is providing the thing you and your company are missing, or the tasks that everyone at your business have been dreading and delaying. Ultimately, outsourcing to a marketing agency is an opportunity to learn what you need via agreements over time. When you first meet with an agency and they can pinpoint a strategy that would make sense in your industry and given your budget, you’ll know that they will be worth the investment and the ability to get started with a team of experts.
The decision to hire a marketing agency isn’t one to make lightly, but there are a variety of times when they will save your current employees much needed time and give you results based on their proven track record with other clients. Take seriously the notion that, as you grow, a marketing agency can be your partner in continued business successes.