Sooner or later, most business owners or marketing managers decide they need marketing support. The next question is what form of help? Do I hire freelancers? Bring on someone full-time? Or partner with an agency?
Here are the pros and cons of each, with an admittedly subjective view from an agency owner.
This is probably the lowest priced option, but you have to factor in your time to recruit, manage and review your freelancers. You’ll need to align your strategies each and every time with them in order to maintain brand consistency. Even then, each freelancer has his/her own interpretation. Most importantly, there is very little loyalty. We’ve inherited dozens of websites literally because, “Our freelancer moved away, went out of business or simply disappeared.”
Despite the added salary, insurance, social security and staffing expenses, an internal marketing assistant gives you a dedicated resource. But, unless you are hiring a seasoned pro at a very high pay scale, some skill sets will be missing. This means you have to factor in some additional management and training time.
The temptation to heap additional tasks on your marketing resource can also be counterproductive. We’ve seen marketing managers juggle recruitment, sales, customer service, quality control and even receptionist duties.
In terms of pure cost, this will be your most expensive option. However, an agency also carries the greatest value. First and foremost, you are gaining an objective opinion from a source that is seeing it all. An agency can often suggest new ideas that they have successfully implemented on behalf of other clients – and that’s only the beginning. With an agency, you get:
Strategy & Planning
If you’re comparing proposals from different agencies, look for an emphasis on strategy. Your agency needs to deliver an overarching roadmap that considers your objectives, optimal channels and brand. The strategy should include a brand identity, followed by mood boards and other processes that ensure everything is on target. If you don’t see a thorough discovery phase in the proposal, the chances are high that the creative and/or messaging will miss the mark. Advertising is a sizable investment. Make sure it’s done the right way, even if that means spending extra.
Marketing managers, project managers and business owners know that correspondence and coordination – essentially, air traffic control – can easily fill entire workdays. An agency that values strategy also believes in the unsung importance of project management and is quietly committed to ensuring you’re as happy with the communication as you are with the deliverables. An agency account manager is a much-needed liaison between the client and the creative team, ensuring clear directives are both provided and followed. Put simply, they will remove a huge number of project management headaches for you and/or your team.
An Entire Marketing Department
This advantage cannot be overstated, because it combines the best of all three options above. You can literally pick and choose the specialist for your immediate needs. Best of all, the agency already understands your marketing needs and strategies—no need for further explanation. Working with a versatile agency gives you instant access to every creative service you could need for your marketing efforts, including branding, advertising, content development, search engine optimization, public relations and social media management. This is all without having to vet and manage people for each position, which would be tiresome, to say the least.
The whole point of marketing is to stand out. An agency combines the collective brainpower of its entire staff to accomplish this for your brand. You’re not going to get this level of creativity from a single graphic artist working in his or her basement basement or from an industry specialist who builds template-based websites that look like everyone else’s.
One of the biggest pitfalls a business owner or leader can fall into is thinking that marketing is in the here and now. Internal staffs can take care of the day to day, but some entity needs to be plotting a course for where you want your business to go. A marketing strategy needs to run like a well-oiled machine and sustain for the long haul, with no stoppages or lapses. An agency is a long-term partner you can count on to help build both your brand and a bridge to the audience you’re trying to reach. See how Netwave has been that partner to so many businesses in NJ and beyond.