When Is The Right Time To Hire A Marketing Agency?
If you’re thinking it’s time to hire someone to run your digital marketing, the big question is whether you should hire a digital marketing agency or hire an employee to work directly for you.
While it can be tempting to grow your internal team and hire a new recruit, the investment required to hire internally is far higher versus hiring an agency.
Why you ask? Skill diversification is a tricky arena. Online marketing is a diverse world, and a single “marketing person” will never have true expertise in every area that your business demands. Likely, you’ll identify candidates who have robust skills in a single aspect of digital marketing – say, in AdWords or in social media marketing – but who will only be moderately familiar with the other types of marketing your business requires to truly succeed. Ask yourself a simple question – do you want to put real marketing dollars behind someone who doesn’t fully know how to avoid common mistakes?
A truly robust internal marketing team would need multiple positions—a digital marketing researcher, a content strategist, a social strategist, a paid advertising strategist, just to name a few. Tally up those salaries and your investment is through the roof. And unlike a relationship with a marketing agency, where you ARE in the driver’s seat and can terminate your contract at any time when you’ve hired internally, you’ve made a commitment that isn’t contingent on your satisfaction with how well your latest campaign performed. You are far more path committed to an internal team regardless of ROI than if you had hired an external marketing agency and aren’t seeing the kinds of returns you had initially expected. Given our current economic climate and the degree of economic instability that it has brought with it, going with an external marketing agency affords a degree of flexibility that may be advantageous in these uncertain times.
If you’re thinking the time has come to hire a marketing firm, we suggest beginning with a local or regional digital marketing agency. You are likely to get the personalized attention your business deserves, and customized solutions that are right for your business needs by choosing an agency based in your region/hometown. And…added bonus, we are always a proponent of shopping local – even in your agencies. Now, the questions become – when is the right time, how do you conduct the best search, and how do you choose which marketing agency that will be right for you?
Knowing When It’s Time
Recognizing that it’s time to hire a digital marketing agency is —in our opinion — often the most difficult step for any growing company. Many startups or newly formed organizations first attempt to manage their own marketing pre and post-launch. Armed with a subscription to Photoshop and access to a mail server, many nascent companies allow their “we wear all the hats so can do all the things” mentality to bleed into how their marketing campaigns are processed. But as they grow, they quickly discover a DIY approach is quite simply not scalable, or manageable, or competitive within their respective market — or all three. When faced with the failures of their initial marketing attempts, they slam the brakes, paralyzed by uncertainty, and frightened into inaction by the perceived costs.
Hiring a marketing agency is an investment, but one that will reap true rewards. Your team should seriously consider hiring an external firm if any of these red flags sound familiar:
🚩Your team is overworked
🚩Your campaigns are consistently not producing the ROIs you expect in terms of sales, qualified leads, or acquisitions.
🚩 You avoid showing your colleagues and potential clients your website or marketing materials at ALL costs! You don’t have a social media presence….so at least it’s not embarrassing?
🚩You keep pushing off creative campaigns to tackle routine tasks that are essential to keeping your business running, but that keep seeming to pile up
🚩You have no idea what is working for your marketing and what isn’t. You don’t know what SEO stands for, let alone how to track your metrics.
🚩Your competitors are all using agencies. You are too intimidated by how nice their websites look to ask on them or figure out how* they did that neat shareable graphic. You are consumed by a weird combination of jealousy and shame so only look at your competitor’s websites in secret when you think your family and co-workers won’t find out.
🚩Your sales numbers make you cringe and you have no good leads. You don’t have an email list. You lie about your email list numbers at cocktail parties and over the internet.
🚩You hate marketing-it feels sleazy–isn’t it all snake oil and fake promises?
🚩You know you lack the expertise to drive results
🚩You don’t have a replicable or scalable process for generating high-value leads and converting to acquired sales
🚩You spend far too much effort struggling to obtain new leads. Your CPL is not sustainable given your business model/profit margins
🚩You want to be more hands-off in the lead generation process
Sound familiar? If you recognize any of the signs above, it could be time to look for a digital marketing agency. Remember, you must INVEST to make money. A strong marketing strategy is the best investment possible for your growing business.
Preparing to Search
Once you’ve decided it’s time to hire a marketing agency, here are a few tips to make your search as seamless as possible. Before you even start looking, make sure you have a clear understanding of:
• What your specific goals are for your partnership with a digital marketing agency?
• Identify the marketing tasks and projects you keep falling behind on and what weight you want your new partner to carry in your marketing process.
• What outcome(s) are you pursuing and how will you specifically define success? Is it new subscribers, increased traffic to your site, or in increased final sales? Outlining the end goals you’ll looking to achieve will help you clarify your needs now, and what type of partner you are looking for.
• What three changes do you hope a partnership with an agency will bring for your organization? What approximate timeline do you anticipate these transformational changes requiring? Often, the best marketing strategies don’t produce results overnight – it’s a process that can take 60-90 days to see initial results. Be sure to talk openly with your potential agency partners to convey any/all expectations you have so their team can best serve you!
• What expectations do you have for the agency that you’ll need to address and confirm as part of your initial partnership contract.
When isn’t a marketing agency a good fit?
A marketing agency will not be able to “save” a failing or struggling business. Many companies wait until the last minute to hire out their marketing, often in a last-ditch, desperate attempt to stay afloat. Sadly, this is the wrong approach. It’s best to think of agencies as a means to AMPLIFY results and help achieve SUSTAINABLITY.
Choosing an Agency
It can be daunting to select an agency from the list of potential prospects. To help you finalise your decision, here are a few action items to consider in conducting the last stages of your research:
• When researching an agency, request examples, testimonials and/or references.
• Have multiple meetings with the agency personnel to make sure you get along with them. Zoom calls are a quick and easy method to have a quick 30-minute chat without leaving your home base.
• Ask how many team members will be assigned to your account and what their respective roles would be.
• Learn what processes the agency uses and how your team might need to adapt and integrate.
• Determine how often the agency will meet with you and/or update you on their progress – is it monthly, weekly? Who will be the main point of contact?
• To complete the scope of work, what would the agency need from you? How can you best prepare for this partnership? (*hint hint* we dig setting up google drive share folders that store all contracts, logos, images, documents, etc. We request that our clients upload any and all assets possible to this folder as we begin the contract process)
• How frequent is their billing process? Monthly, bi-monthly? And what are their required payment terms? Net-90, net-30, payment via check, Direct deposit?
If you’re ready to begin your search for a boutique digital marketing agency, reach out to us! We’d love to meet with you, learn more about your business and goals, and share the ways we can best support and serve your business growth.
-The Aesthetic Digital Media Team