When we are speaking with prospective clients, we answer a lot of questions. But undoubtedly, one we hear a lot is, “Why should we hire Berbay when we could just hire a full-time marketing person?”
It’s a great question and like most great questions, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The answer will change depending on what your marketing goals are. Here are some tips to consider when making this decision.
Hire an agency for:
- Bench strength. A successful marketing campaign includes a multitude of different facets: social media, content marketing, media relations, SEO, website…the list goes on. It’s very uncommon—maybe even impossible—for one person to be really good at each of those things, let alone have time in the day to do them all. Hiring an agency means a team of specialists is at your disposal, and if no one at the agency is an expert on what you need to accomplish, they have the industry contacts to find someone who is.
- Media connections. PR agency pros are constantly talking to reporters who cover different beats and work at outlets of all sizes. Their familiarity with the media landscape also means that agencies think beyond obvious pitches and publications, and they may be more willing to try out-of-the box angles. More importantly, reporters call on their PR contacts to connect them with experts (a.k.a. you). It’s not impossible for a person to come to a company with many media contacts, but unquestionably, an agency will have more.
- Even the most creative person in the world can’t be the most creative person every day and will often get bogged down when they work on the same projects every day. In-house marketers can certainly be creative, but fresh eyes from varying staff members at an agency can help you develop a marketing campaign that’s more impactful and includes elements that you wouldn’t have thought of without outside input.
- Efficiency and experience. A team is always more efficient that one person. If the one and only in-house marketing person is sick, on vacation or overloaded with work, projects may have to be pushed back or scaled down. And if they leave the firm entirely, you’re back at square one. At an agency, someone will always answer the phone and pick up the slack when things get busy. Plus, since they work with so many clients, agency professionals are experts at managing time without sacrificing quality.
Hire an in-house marketer for:
- Company familiarity. A marketer working in your office every day will be more familiar with the company culture, the structure of the organization, its processes and idiosyncrasies. It takes time for agencies and clients to learn how to work together and communicate effectively. Also an in-house person can more easily knock on someone’s door and talk to them face-to-face.
- There’s no getting around it: hiring an in-house person is often cheaper than hiring an agency. Agencies have a set fee, but you can control a new hire’s hours and salary level. However, even when the base cost of someone’s salary is less expensive than an agency, you may have to pay for continuing education and training or specialized tools that professionals at an agency already have.
- Buy-in. Agencies are dedicated to their clients, but someone who cared enough about your organization to accept a job with you has a little bit more on the line. Engaged employees who care about your mission are a huge asset to the company. Agency pros who have lots of clients won’t have as much dedication as a long-time employee does.
Clearly, each solution has pros and cons. You may even think this blog is biased given my allegiance to agencies for more than a decade. So, you still want advice on what to do? My honest answer is you should use a mixture of both. An in-house marketer can tackle day-to-day projects, and an experienced agency can help fill in the gaps and expand what your in-house team is capable of doing. Based on my experience and what I’ve seen work best, a hybrid model can further propel your marketing goals while ensuring you have all your bases covered.