Marketing, specifically digital marketing, plays a crucial role in a business success.
Most of the time, businesses that are growing fast can’t keep up with daily Facebook and other social media postings, or they are so far behind that they might not even know what Facebook is. Either way, businesses today needs online marketing to stay busy and competitive.
Some companies choose to hire marketing employees in-house while others opt for freelance or part-time help, while others, still, choose to retain a marketing agency to own the entire marketing process, including website development, social media, search engine optimization, graphic design, branding, and more..
Here are the pros and cons of Marketing Agency VS Marketing contractor VS Marketing team in House.
- Experience Creating and Executing Marketing Strategies. How are your marketing efforts contributing to website traffic, leads and customers? If you can’t answer that question, let a marketing agency answer it for you.
- Cost Savings: Hiring a Marketing Agency Saves Costs. Average monthly marketing spends on agency work typically start at $2000 to $5,000 a month, depending on the scope of services. If you take those numbers over 12 months and you’re looking at a $24,000 to $60,000 yearly. Just ONE mid-career graphic designer can cost $53,000 a year. A marketing manager averages a $70,000 salary (before benefits). So, would you rather spend $126,000 for two people or $60,000 for an entire company? Hiring an agency makes pretty clear sense if you ask me.
- Agencies Help Your Company Grow to Scale. When the economy tightens, companies tend to cut costs. Marketing is often the first to go because they are seen as a “discretionary” expense. And when times are good, marketing often gets more funding. It’s contractarian to the objective of the CEO responsibilities. But reducing and expanding the marketing budget is expensive. In the short-term, reducing or canceling marketing activities incurs a cost. In the long-term, costs associated with attrition, staffing and erosion of knowledge base are more expensive. Under a traditional in-house operation, the only way you can increase the output of your marketing team is to hire more employees. Agencies already have cross-functional professionals on the core team that has been senior management with some of the top agencies, design firms or companies in the world.
- Outside Help Means an Outside Perspective. One of the scariest things a business can say is, “We’ve always done it that way.” That phrase leads to surefire stagnation if not complete decay. Whether it’s adopting social media as a viable strategy or rewriting website copy, having someone not so ingrained in your day-to-day can provide a fresh perspective.
- Marketing Agencies Know the Latest Technologies. The agencies’ jobs are to stay abreast of the next big things, be they mobile apps, social networks, or distribution channels. Just two years ago, who would have thought that a disappearing photo-sharing network would be the next big thing in business (Snapchat, obviously). How will you know about the greatest app since sliced bread if you’re knee deep in payroll, taxes, human resources, and distribution activities? Hire a marketing agency.
- Agencies Provide You a Dedicated Team. Most agencies will provide you a specialized, dedicated team of two or three whose sole job is to manage your project. Having a “go-to” helps ensure timelines, expectations, and the like.
The question, then, isn’t if you can afford an experienced marketing agency, but rather how much are you costing yourself in time, money and lost opportunity by trying to do this in-house. So why should you hire a marketing agency?
- It’s typically harder to get out of an agency agreement opposed to an agreement with an independent contractor. Many agencies like to lock you in for a 12-month agreement since that’s when they typically start producing inbound marketing results. Many agencies I know also like to front-load the work (setup, development, content creation) and spread the payments out over 12-months, therefore, they really won’t let you cancel your agreement. At The French Keys we offer flexible contracts of 3 months, 6 months or 12 months
- For an agency to be successful, the company still has to have someone that dedicates part of their time working with them to ensure alignment to the organization’s goals, especially in the beginning of the relationship during a very common discovery and audit period. As the relationship with the agency matures, they’ll still need 10 hours or so of your week. This could be said for working with an independent marketing contractor and internal marketing team as well. At The French Keys we send you a weekly listing of things needed from you, to save you time.
- A common complaint of agencies is that they can be slow to respond and get things done, a client will request a website change, a revision, or for an email to be sent and have to wait a week for a response. At The French Keys we answer our email within 12 hours on a weekday and 24 hours on weekends. We also can execute any request within 24 hours. We want to be available and responsive for our client’s satisfaction.
- Independent contractors have a wealth of knowledge. Many of them have left successful careers to start their own one-person operation and have a lot of talent.
- Really good independent contractors provide a very personal level of service that many of their clients value. They become their trusted advisor that provides them with unique perspectives, challenges them, helps them avoid missed opportunities or potential disasters, and educated them. Great independent contractors get invited to help their clients make significant business decisions.
- Independent contractors are not treated as employees, therefore, they are not subject to payroll taxes and state and federal employment laws, which is a benefit over hiring an internal team but not over hiring an agency.
- It’s typically easy to get out of an independent contractor agreement if need be.
- An independent contractor can be limited in their ability to provide a full array of service offerings. For example, they may have great ideas and a vision for how to help you reach your marketing objectives, but they may lack the technical expertise to execute it. This may cause you to need multiple independent contractors (strategists, content creators, designers, developers) to really get the job done.
- Independent contractors are limited by their own capacities. Should they be unable to work for a period of time or other agreements they’ve made demand their time, it may slow down the progress of reaching your marketing objectives.
- You may think that hiring an independent contractor is your least expensive option, but that’s often not the case. Someone that has a high-level of expertise that you need could run you around $100 / hour. If they’re providing you with 15 hours of service a week, that’s around $6000 / month which is more than a typical agency would cost you. And unfortunately, some of that time will go to activities that probably don’t warrant $100 / hour.
Internal Marketing Teams
- Mindshare. You would assume that your own employees are 100% focused on helping you achieve your organizational goals, you know, when they’re not texting, on Instagram, on vacation, building their portfolio or freelancing.
- Speed of getting things done. When you have a team of marketing employees 100% dedicated to working on your company’s marketing, things will get done faster, or at least, you assume that it will. This obviously depends on you having the right hires that are focused on your success.
- Like the independent contractor, you typically have to make several hires to have all of the skills needed to run a complete marketing program. One director-level hire that has the knowledge and experience to strategically lead your internal marketing team will cost you at least $80,000 / year (depending on your market), plus taxes and benefits. And it’s likely they will need an assistant to perform the activities that they either don’t specialize in or want to do, like social media and content creation. That’ll run you at least another $35,000 / year, plus taxes and benefits. And even with two people, it’s still not likely that you’ll have all the skills you need to run the entire program and may still look to outsource design and development work to an independent contractor or an agency. All in, this is clearly your most expensive option.
- You take on the responsibility of having employees which mean employee issues. These typically include employees going on leave (or quitting), maintaining accurate job descriptions, performance reviews, requests for promotions and time off, HR resource costs, benefit planning, workspace and equipment costs and need for space, reimbursements, and so on and so on and so on, adding costs to your already most expensive option.
- It takes much longer to find and hire the right people than it does to startup with an independent marketing contractor or marketing agency. Recruiting may take 2 weeks. Then running interviews will take another two weeks. Then you have to make a job offer and hope they accept, if they do, they need to give notice to their other job which takes 2-4 weeks. Then they need to get acclimated to your organization which takes another 2-4 weeks, and here you are 8 weeks (conservatively) into the process and you haven’t even done anything yet. An agency or an independent contractor can get started within a week or two. By week 8, they’ll probably already have your plan for the year completed and will have started executing on that plan.
- Of the three options, having to make a change is the hardest when dealing with an internal team. If there are performance issues, this means that instead of requesting that work stop for a period of time or stating that “the project has ended,” you actually have to fire people. And if you make hiring mistakes, it takes a lot more time, effort, and resources to make a change.
The Approach in our Agency:
By actively seeking feedback from our clients and listening to what prospects want and value during the sales process, we’ve made some fundamental decisions about how we want to position our agency into something that makes us truly unique for our clients. I share these with you below.
Ensuring that our clients don’t feel locked into long-term agreements.To ensure that we retain our clients, we simply have to do a good job. That means setting and agreeing on clear expectations in no uncertain terms before the work starts, and consistently delivering on those expectations month after month. We believe if we do a good job, our clients will want to continue with their program, spend more money with us, and refer their peers to us because they’re seeing the value. If we’re not doing a good job helping our clients, it’s against everything we stand for and we should get fired. Being a buyer of services myself, that’s what I want for my company.
Implementing a collaborative approach. Unlike many other inbound marketing agencies that really want to run your program for you with minimum involvement from the client (and there is definitely a place for this), we strive to be a lot more consultative and collaborative. We set up regular communication with clients and spend the time to educate them on what they should and COULD be doing based on our understanding. We want our clients to see us and indispensable and as one of their most trusted advisors.
Providing a high-level of knowledge and expertise in our service offering. To provide the benefits that you would receive with an independent contractor, we made a conscious effort to add that level of knowledge and expertise to our service offering.
Maintaining speed of response and getting things done. One of the things I can say IMPACT has always done right was our remarkable responsiveness and speed of completing activities. Responsiveness is one of the things our clients value the most about us. I’m not completely sure why agencies have this bad reputation or haven’t been able to make this a priority.
Providing tactical skills, capabilities, and expertise. Our clients have always valued our tactical expertise. This includes, but is not limited to, our content creation abilities, our strong grasp of social media and marketing software platforms, our creative and design skills, our front-end development capabilities. This is an area we’ve always been strong in and continue to improve.
- The French Keys team xoxo