How do you grow your business? It’s not enough to just have a great product or service. You have to promote that product or service so prospective customers can learn exactly what makes your business and your products/services so great. And what differentiates them from your competition’s products and services that claim to be better than yours.
What you need is marketing. The question is do you have the time and resources to effective market yourself or do you hire a marketing agency?
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both options.
Why You Should Market Yourself - Something Is Better Than Nothing, Right?
Pros of Marketing Yourself
The Internet empowers even the smallest company to market itself with a range of free, low cost, and easy-to-use digital tools. These include:
- Free website builders and blog sites that don’t require coding knowledge (e.g., WordPress, Wix, Weebly)
- Email marketing (e.g., free plans from HubSpot, SendPlus, MailChimp)
- Social media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.)
In addition, there are several advertising platforms such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads and pay Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising on search engines to investigate. Some of these will give you a certain amount of free advertising to start, but any long term results are going to require spending some money. However, any kind of advertising requires spending money; to be successful you have to carefully monitor results to ensure you are getting not only the right exposure, but maximum ROI.
11.2% of overall revenue is the average marketing budget for startups or businesses just beginning marketing.
Which brings us to the cons.
Cons of Marketing Yourself - The True Cost & Return On Investment
All of this takes TIME & EXPERIENCE. Building a website, creating an email campaign, posting on social media, creating ads, not to mention measuring the results to ensure you are meeting your objectives. Small entrepreneurs may have little choice. Everyone starts their marketing journey the same way, DIY. But as business scales and grows there is only so much you can do on your own.
Also, there’s a limited amount to what you can do with a free tool or with limited novice experience. Your self-built website might look okay, but it isn’t likely to be as good—or as effective—as what a professional web designer and marketing team creates.
In all probability you don’t want to divert the talents of yourself and your employees away from what they are doing to do marketing. Which means you need to hire someone. Who in turn might need to hire additional staff.
Besides adding to your payroll and your overhead costs, there’s time spent searching for potential marketing employees, interviewing them and then onboarding them. And there’s always the chance that even after careful screening, it turns out the employee just isn’t the right fit. In which case you have to go through the process of dismissing the employee and going through the whole process again. Meanwhile, the marketing you need to get word out there about your products and services isn’t as effective as it could be, or isn’t happening at all.
1:1 is the average return on investment (ROI) while marketing yourself while 1:10 is the average ROI with a professional agency.
Why You Should Hire a Marketing Agency
Pros of Hiring a Marketing Agency
Someone once asked a cheese-maker that only made one kind of cheese why they didn’t diversify into other cheeses or even other milk products like yogurts or butter. The answer was, “Because making this cheese is what we know how to do best.”
The same is true of marketing agencies. Marketing is what they do. In terms of digital marketing, as opposed to traditional print and promotional advertising, you get multiple expertises all under one umbrella:
- Website design
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
- Content creation (blogs, eBooks, webinars, whitepapers, case studies, etc)
- Email marketing
- Social media marketing
- Online public relations
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising
- Affiliate marketing
- Automated workflows
- And much more
It is doubtful whether you can build an in-house marketing team that can match the skill sets and experience of an outside agency, at least not in the short term. An outside agency, moreover, brings a much broader perspective with fresher ideas on how to market your business.
An outside marketing agency also has the resources to dedicate and scale up to meet your needs. If you’re spending time doing some of the marketing, or even if you have a dedicated marketing person or two, there’s only so much that can be done in the time they have to do it. It might take a month or two of planning to do a proper product launch, to produce the photos, graphics, the copy, a website. A marketing agency can quickly marshal the necessary resources to do it much more quickly and probably, truth be told, more effectively. Because that is what they do.
Also keep in mind that you’re hiring an agency that has a whole team in place. It would cost you much more in salaries, benefits and overhead to hire the same team in-house.
Another advantage is there is no long term commitment and more flexibility. You can work from project to project or on a short-term retainer. And should you need to part ways, there’s no time and energy expended as you would dismissing an employee for cause. Even if you’re happy with the agency you are working with, you can always try out another on a different project just to get another perspective or add a specialization for a specific need.
Cons of Hiring a Marketing Agency
Perhaps the biggest challenge business owners face to hiring a marketing agency is upfront cost, at least in the short-term. That may be offset by whatever ROI you achieve in implementing your marketing plan. But there is going to be that initial spend you’ll need to find in your budget. However, no one has a zero dollar marketing budget. Your time spent marketing inefficiently has a price tag upfront as well as in the long-term. Your time is worth money that could be spent on other aspects of growing your business. Think of a marketing budget as an investment vehicle, not an overhead expense.
Initially, you’ll have to spend some up-front time getting the agency up-to-speed on your objectives as well as your products/services that an in-house staff is already going to know. (Though the better agencies will have done their homework to familiarize themselves with your business or specialize in your industry, so the learning curve won’t be quite as steep.)
Micro-managers beware! Slack and Zoom notwithstanding, marketing agencies are not at your beck and call as regular employees (or Google) are. Of course, they are striving to satisfy you as they would any client; however, because they have multiple clients to satisfy, clients are prioritized based on ad and retainer spend. You may not always get on top of the list.
Watch out for one-trick ponies! Your objectives aren’t always the objectives of the marketing agency. Sure they want to keep you as a client. But they are also selling services to you. This is not to say that those services don’t work or aren’t good business practices; it is to say that only you can decide if those services are a profitable fit your business goals and budget. It’s easy to get enamored by fancy software, bells, whistles and sales pitches that have long-term results you can’t yet afford or may not be ready for. Having said that, the better specialized experienced agencies always work to satisfy the needs and the budgets of their clients.
Marketing Yourself Versus Hiring A Marketing Agency Comparison Chart
Compare Hiring Marketing Agency Vs. Marketing Yourself
- Cheaper Short-Term
- Less Efficient
- Average ROI Is 1:1
- Little To No Budget To Get Off The Ground
- Little To No Experience Means A Slower And Less Efficient Marketing Plan Execution
- Utilizes Free Platforms & Introductory Software
- Novice To No Experience
- In-house Human Resources; Less Experienced; Less Specialized
- Tough Building A Network Of Talent, Experience & Resources
- Hard To Scale Up On Your Own
- Forces You To Wear Many Hats
- Stuck With Human Resources; Firing An Employee Means You’ll Need To Pay For Unemployment
Hiring A Marketing Agency
- Cheaper Long-Term
- More Efficient
- Average ROI Is 1:10
- A Budget Is Needed
- High-level Of Experience Means An Accelerated Execution Of Marketing Plan
- Utilizes Industry Standard Platforms & Advanced Software
- Has Professional Experience
- External Human Resources Easier To Scale; More Specialized
- Network Full Of The Best Resources, Talent & Experience
- Easy To Scale Up
- Provides Specialists For Every Aspect Of Marketing
- Fire An Agency At Anytime Pending Contract; No Unemployment Issues
Speaking of Better Marketing Agencies…
At Tag Marketing we are 100% client focused and results oriented. We are a family company and we treat our clients as part of our family as well. We’re the best of both worlds, the in-house department and the external marketing agency because we are a smaller agency that connects directly to our client’s, their staff, their customer’s interactions and to our campaign strategy all within one tight knit team. This closes the entire communication loop, removes any misinformation or disconnect, and produces the best results. We pride ourselves on taking your brand and business to the next level through successful, proven inbound marketing strategies.
If your business is a small or medium-sized organization with limited resources and working capital, it may be smart to hire a marketing agency to take care of your marketing needs.
Need help beginning your professional marketing journey or would like us to grade your current marketing strategy?