Marketing: In-house or agency?

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26th July 2020

The PROS and CONS of using a Marketing agency

When it comes to marketing, there are three different options for you consider:

  1. Build an in-house marketing team for everything
  2. Hire an agency to work on your marketing campaigns
  3. Collaborate with an agency to support your in-house team

Hillsgreen may be a marketing agency but across the team we have experience working ‘agency side’ and ‘client side’. There is no definitive answer that can be applied to every organisation in making the decision between having an in-house marketing team vs. bringing in an agency. There is no one size fits all.

For many companies, the decision really comes down to cost and convenience. Often larger companies tend to favour an internal marketing team, as it can provide a greater return on investment. And when we say internal marketing team here, we’re talking more than just a stand-alone marketing manager. For smaller companies, there may be a preference to look to an agency for support because an in-house team would be too costly or complicated to manage and maintain.

Whether you choose to manage your marketing in-house or outsource support from an agency, one the main pieces of advice we would always give is do your research. When it comes to hiring people in any form, ‘fit’ is key and is something which is often undervalued. You could have someone who on paper is great at what they do, is capable of great things but, they do not gel well with your team. The effects that this then has on your team’s morale can do more damage.

Ask yourself: Do they share your core values?

Choosing an agency to support you with your marketing activity is such an important decision. Data from Statista shows that most companies will hire an agency at one point or another, and a lot of companies hire several. It’s a decision that requires careful consideration.

To help, we have detailed our top 5 PROS and 5 CONS of outsourcing your marketing:

PROS

CREATIVITY

Marketing agencies have team members and connections with the most creative of creative people. Whether it’s talented copywriters or inspiring designers who can take a simple business concept and turn it into a great campaign. Whilst most of us may think of ourselves as creative, the ability to crack on and put that creative idea on paper is a whole different skill set.

FRESH IDEAS

It is inevitable that working within a business for a set period can leave you blinded by the way things are done, or how things have always been done. This is completely expected, after all you live and breathe your organisation. If it’s your business you’re even more invested and often protective over the brand that you have worked hard to build to date – and so you should be. The job of a marketing agency is to help show you what else you could do, giving you a fresh perspective.

EXPERTISE

The term marketing gets thrown about a lot, as it does include such a wide range of activities. In fact, it’s rare to come across someone who doesn’t say they have marketing experience. However, having a general knowledge of marketing basics is very different to managing complex marketing campaigns. The key advantage of a marketing agency is that you work alongside people with expert knowledge, specialists who have dedicated their careers to knowing the ins and outs of a key marketing channel.

MORE TIME FOR YOU!

Hiring a marketing agency allows you to focus your attention on other things. Letting go of the idea of having to be directly involved in all aspects of your company is vital to business growth – don’t stretch yourself too thin. We’re all guilty of this at times but it’s no good for your business and it’s no good for you. Many in-house marketing teams are smaller, to the extent you may have a standalone marketing manager who is often overworked. It is rare that your job ever just involves the responsibilities detailed in your job description, and as time goes on you adopt new responsibilities. If your business can only afford one or two members of an in-house marketing team there is a limit on what can be achieved in a given week.

COST-EFFECTIVE

Outsourcing your marketing may seem like a large expense at first, but it can be more cost-effective in the long-term. For smaller organisations working with an agency gives you access to a bigger and more diverse team without spending money recruiting a larger in-house equivalent. With proven success rates, you’ll benefit from more expertise, dedicated specialist knowledge, and more of those all-important sales.

CONS

DISCOVERY PERIOD

In the very beginning of a relationship with an agency, there is inevitably going to be a discovery period where you need to get to understand each other. This is why it’s so important to select your agency carefully. Those that have experience within your industry will need much less guidance and monitoring from the off. Whilst you may have similar experiences hiring a new in-house marketing team to get them up to speed, they are fully immersed in your business every day of the week.

LACK OF INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE

There are a wide array of agencies out there to choose from. You may be wowed by the larger agencies that have done work for the biggest brands but is that right for you? No. You need people who will understand your industry or at least have a passion to get under the skin of what you do.

DIFFERENT VISIONS

Different visions for the business is a common conflict when working with agencies. Where a fresh perspective is a pro of working with an agency, there will inevitably be a clash if this insight is not going to help you get your business to where you want it be. Any credible marketing agency will make their recommendations clear even if it isn’t necessarily what you want to hear. As the client though you should always have the final say. Here we refer to the right ‘fit’ again. If you have a set vision in mind for your business, find people who can see, and share that vision.  

CONTROL

You may be able to choose the agency you work with, but you don’t get to choose the people who work for the agency. If you want to know exactly who is running your campaigns and have full control over their priorities, then in-house is going to be better suited to you. You’ll need to invest time and resources into handpicking the right team, and ensure you have a plan in place should a team member leave. Without which your marketing activity could become more STOP than START.

COMMUNICATION

This is one con that has undoubtedly changed significantly over the past 4 months! One of the benefits of an in-house marketing team has always been being able to see your team in front of you and being able to pop over to their desk to have a chat. But, how does this transpire in a Covid-19 world? Communication isn’t reliant on people being face to face at all times. Where there is still huge value in having these connections, there are many ways that communication can be maintained and improved remotely. Like most things it all comes down to TRUST. If you don’t feel that you can wholly trust someone outside of your business to support you, an agency relationship isn’t going to work.

The Bottom Line

Keep in mind that whatever decision you make it doesn’t have to be black and white. When working with an agency, the best campaigns require input from your business.

In our opinion, collaboration is imperative. At Hillsgreen we have a team of specialists and a team that are passionate about supporting rural businesses. But, you are the ones that live and breathe your business day in day out. You’ll have access to knowledge and content from your daily activities that we don’t. By combining skills and working together you can turn a good campaign into a memorable campaign.

Do your research and find the right solution for you.

If you would like to see how we could work with you, get in touch.

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