When your business grows, it doesn’t mean simply doing the same thing with more people or more clients - it means scaling up. It means altering your business model to adapt to growth - and to maximize opportunity. And, when it comes to the fast-paced, constantly evolving world of online marketing, it may mean engaging those with the time, resources, and expertise to help you conquer the digital frontier and reach key goals. Is the right move, right now, to hire a digital marketing agency? Or can you handle your marketing needs in-house?
Digital Marketing is a Must
The question is not whether you should invest in digital marketing; it is how you can do it most efficiently and effectively. As Intuit co-founder Scott Cook aptly remarks, “A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is - it is what consumers tell each other it is.”
Your target audience - and potential customers - are talking. They’re engaging in vibrant and multi-faceted discussions online about your brand, or about their need for services/products that you can provide. Digital marketing - whether through social, mobile apps and texting, display advertising, or stalwart email - empowers you to not only join the conversation, but to guide it. You may, however, need someone to help you “speak the language,” as it were. Which is where digital marketing professionals come into play.
As your business grows, it becomes too complex to handle myriad digital initiatives on your own or by throwing together ad hoc digital teams from your existing staff. Your options: go without digital marketing campaigns, engage a pro or team, or hire a digital marketing agency. Since the first isn’t truly an option given today’s business environment, you’re left with in-house or outsourcing.
The Pros - and Cons- of Bringing in the Pros
In business, you become used to weighing every decision, from your software vendor and job candidates to where you buy your morning latte. To whom you entrust your online marketing efforts is one of the most critical because, though marketing is just one facet of your company, doing it well has ripple effects throughout every other function.
Outsourcing your digital marketing needs has advantages and disadvantages, so careful consideration is a must. Potential downsides may include:
No one knows your business like you do. Whether you started your business from the ground-up or worked your way up from the mailroom, no one knows it like you. No one cares about it like you. No one wants it to succeed more than you. Effective digital marketing depends on an inside-out understanding of the business - which you have.
An agency will, understandably, require a learning period as they get up to speed. Internal staff receives in-depth brand messaging, voice, and communications almost by osmosis; for outsourced professionals it requires conscientious effort to bring them up to speed.
You still need to be involved. You can delegate the responsibility for digital marketing - you cannot abdicate it. When you hire a digital marketing agency, you entrust responsibility for major actions - but you do not give ownership of your brand or your message. There is still an investment of time and effort to be made.You’ll need to provide guidance, give feedback, review data, and evaluate progress. It is hands-on, even when outsourced.
You may not be ready for the leads your digital marketing agency generates. It may seem like a “problem” you’d like to have: an influx of leads. When agencies use their expertise and techniques for your business, leads follow. If you do not have the staff, time, or systems, to follow up on them, those can become wasted opportunities. Before engaging a firm, see how they can help you scale up and take full advantage of their services.
On the other hand, going with an agency confers a variety of benefits, including:
Expertise. Social, mobile, display ads, cross-channel initiatives - it can seem overwhelming to owners and managers who must deal with the day-to-day of running their businesses. But this is what digital marketers do; it is their specialty, and great agencies have extensive experience in techniques and strategies you may not have thought to implement - or even known existed.
From shortening the sales cycle with programmatic buying and integrating native advertising to crafting a compelling brand narrative, online marketing professionals stay up-to-date with advances and best practices in their industry. They devote their careers to it and readily lend that expertise to your business.
Time. Because agencies have a breadth and depth of expertise in digital marketing and technology, they don’t have to spend time catching up as you would in planning a campaign, analyzing data, or completing any one of hundreds of other tasks.
As mentioned, it will take time for them to immerse themselves in your business. And it it time well spent. Once they are current, they can immediately begin planning strategy and implementing campaigns that will help you reach your key goals. In the digital space, time is of the essence.
Agencies also deliver consistency. Many “DIY” digital efforts chug along in fits and starts. Social profiles sit abandoned; email campaigns go nowhere. Dedicated professionals, though, can keep your efforts going - and yielding returns.
Money. In-house teams save you money; hiring an agency is simply too expensive. This myth is one of the main barriers to effective digital marketing. Depending on your area and the experience/credentials of the individual, hiring your own digital expert can cost upwards of $50,000 - not including benefits, recruitment costs, hiring and onboarding costs… the list goes on and on.
For less - far less - than hiring one individual, who may not be expert in all aspects of digital marketing, you can engage an entire team. Adding to the savings: the untold time you free to focus on growing your business.
As your business grows, you need inbound marketing experts who have the capacity, expertise, and experience to grow sustain that growth - and help you reach new levels of success. If you are struggling with the decision to hire a digital marketing agency, consider the returns this investment can yield. The reality is that you need to go digital; doesn’t your business deserve the best team guiding that journey?