To agency, or not to agency, that is the question.
A question as old as time.
When considering what to do, you have three options:
- Hire an internal marketing team (note – team, it’s impossible to hire a single person who can do all marketing jobs; it’s too broad a skillset).
- Hire a marketing agency (this gives you access to an entire team of specialists who will act as your marketing team)
- Do nothing
Option three is, in our opinion, a rubbish idea. Your competitors will be investing in marketing. If you don’t, you run the risk of falling behind and rapidly becoming irrelevant.
So, that leaves two options – hire a marketing agency, or go it alone. Here are the pros and cons of hiring a marketing agency, designed to help you make an informed decision.
Disclaimer: we are a digital marketing agency, but we’re going to keep this as objective as possible.
Pros of hiring a marketing agency
Let’s start with the good stuff, shall we?
Access a full team of experts for a fraction of the price of hiring
A successful digital marketing strategy requires a strategist, developer, designer, copywriter and search specialist at a minimum.
How much would it cost you to recruit and maintain a team of five experts?
That’s right – probably too much, unless you’re a large corporation. An internal marketing team is a fantastic thing to have, but it’s just not feasible for most SMEs.
Hiring an agency costs a fixed amount every month, allowing you to budget accordingly while benefiting from a whole team without the cost – no holiday pay, no PAYE or pension contributions, no faff.
Save time, lots of it
Trying to do your marketing yourself is a significant time commitment. Imagine adding marketing to your already busy workload. Let’s be honest, it’s just not going to get done.
We’ve seen it time and time again, it happens to almost every business owner who tries to do it themselves.
Marketing agencies, on the other hand, are used to onboarding new clients, getting into the nitty gritty of what you want and need, and getting started.
This means that you’ll see results faster, and you’ll start to profit from the relationship sooner.
Get a fresh perspective on your business
You’re incredibly close to your business.
How do we know? Because we’re incredibly close to ours!
This makes it difficult to see where change is needed; most of us slip into the status quo and, quite often, don’t even realise it’s happened!
An agency brings a fresh pair of eyes – an unbiased perspective on your internal sales and marketing processes. This means that we can provide clear direction and suggestions that you may not have considered yourself.
Work as partners
The best results are achieved when you treat your marketing agency as partners, not as a supplier.
A good marketing agency will become an extension of your team – your marketing department. As you’re the experts in your industry, by getting involved and providing the marketing team with all the insights they need, they can create significantly better content, and drive far more engaged leads.
Of course, you can leave your marketing agency to their own devices, and you’ll still see results, but you’ll always get more from them if you consider it as a partnership.
Allow your sales team to focus on what they’re good at – selling
Do your sales team currently double up as marketers?
You’re probably spending a lot of money on good salespeople. Hiring a marketing agency means that things like outreach, email workflows, follow-ups and more are things that your sales team no longer have to worry about.
All they need to focus on is what they’re good at – selling your products/services. More time selling = more profit; win-win for everyone.
Keep up with rapidly changing tech
Marketing tech develops at a frighteningly fast rate, it can be almost impossible to keep up.
Fortunately for you, it’s your marketing agency’s job to keep up with all of the latest updates and tech changes.
This keeps your business at the cutting edge, exactly where you want to be.
Cons of hiring a marketing agency
It’s not all smooth sailing with marketing agencies.
There can be a steep learning curve
Marketing agencies bring a lot of specialist knowledge to the table, which often means a fair amount of internal change for your business.
You’ll have content specialists telling you where your copy needs work, design professionals pointing out flaws in your website and brand, and search specialists diving behind the scenes of your website and identifying where things have gone wrong, and what needs to change.
This can be overwhelming, and there can be a steep learning curve.
A good agency will make your onboarding seamless, but not every agency will. We recommend going into the relationship with an open mind, and accepting the fact that things will need to change (and they might be things you like/thought were working well).
Finding the right agency can be challenging
There is no one-size-fits-all agency, and if you find one that says that they are, run for the hills!
Just like with any business partnership, finding the right agency can be challenging, and it’s essential that you carefully consider everything that they’re saying.
Lots of our clients come to us after having a bad experience with an agency in the past. To help you avoid bad agencies, you can learn a little more about agency red flags to look for by clicking here.
To summarise, to find a good agency, we recommend:
- Looking through their case studies (if they have any!)
- Speaking to their existing clients and read reviews (for example, if you ask us, we’ll always arrange a call with one of our clients so you can get an objective opinion)
- Ensuring that they’ve adopted a data-focused approach. No changes to your marketing strategy should be made without sufficient data to back it up.
You’re not the agency’s only customer
The agency might have a handful, or hundreds of clients, depending on the size of agency you choose.
This means that, while frustrating, your team will also be working on a wide variety of other projects.
However, good agencies will ensure that you have your fair share of time. At the end of the day, you’ll pay for X hours of work a month, and you’re guaranteed this, no matter how many other clients the agency has.
At the end of the day, deadlines should always be agreed with you in advance, and they should never be missed. If they are being missed, you might have found yourself a lackluster agency.
Contract commitments are the norm
It’s very normal for agencies to ask for contract commitments.
Normally, this comes in 3, 6 or 12-month blocks.
It costs a lot of money for a marketing agency to mobilise a team of experts to work on your account. These contract commitments are designed to reflect this. Not only this, but you’re very rarely going to see results in the first month or two – marketing takes time.
While contracts might be a big turn off for you, note that many agencies give discounts for longer-term contracts. We always recommend asking whether you can get a discount when talking to a prospective agency (never hurts to ask!).
What happens if you do nothing at all?
Option three on our list is, let’s be honest, a very bad idea, but here’s what will happen if you decide to neglect marketing altogether.
You’ll fall behind competitors
Your competitors are almost certainly investing in marketing in one way or another.
- Secures them a bigger market presence
- Means prospective customers will find them first
- Builds trust in their service over yours
- Can attract your customers away to them
You’ll become essentially invisible in the market, and will only drive new business via referrals and any events you may attend. Essentially, your competitors would absolutely love it if you decide to ignore marketing.
You won’t be agile enough to adapt to changes in the market
The economy is all over the place. We have clients that hail from almost every industry imaginable; each and every one of them have felt the pinch of the past few years in one way or another.
Our clients have been able to keep growing, though. How?
Because they’ve got a strong marketing presence, and are able to quickly adapt to changing market conditions. Perhaps they’re able to send out a new workflow addressing potential concerns, or can run a campaign that advertises a new product that’s perfect for businesses in the current climate.
Successful businesses are able to react – can yours?
You won’t future proof your business
Things might be going great right now, but are you ready for what might come in the future?
We’re not omniscient, and we’re hoping that things get a little less chaotic in the coming years, but we can’t be sure, and preparing for the worst is essential.
Having a marketing agency or team on your side allows you to be ready for whatever the industry throws at you.
Your brand will start to look tired and outdated
Some brands haven’t been touched since the 90s/early 2000s.
They simply don’t compare to their competitors who have invested in modern, eye-catching new brands.
Take a look at your competitors’ brands, how do they compare to yours? Try to be objective – you may be attached to your existing brand, but it might not be performing to the level you need it to.
While you may not need a full rebrand, chances are your branding could do with a freshen up!
You’ll miss out on amazing opportunities
Do you want to grow your business, or are you happy where you are?
There are opportunities out there, you just need the resources and strategy to capture them.
If you ignore marketing, these opportunities will go to your competitors. Ignoring marketing is letting your business stagnate, and we don’t want that!
And that’s a wrap!
There you have it, our list of the pros and cons of hiring a marketing agency (or choosing to do nothing!).
Of course, we’ve tried to keep bias out of this one, but we do genuinely believe in the difference a marketing agency can make, especially to an aspiring SME.
If you’ve got any questions about choosing a marketing agency, or whether it’s the right decision for you, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.
We’ll never recommend marketing to a business that isn’t ready yet, and we always turn down clients who aren’t the right fit.