To Outsource Your Marketing/PR or Not
When we are speaking with prospective clients, we answer a lot of questions, but undoubtedly, one we hear often is: “Should we outsource our marketing and hire an agency like Berbay, or hire an in-house 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 vetted industry contacts to find someone who is.
- Experience. An agency has the unique positioning of having worked with multiple firms in your particular industry. Because of this, the agency is able to share insight and expertise on what other firms have done, what has/has not worked, etc.
- Media connections. PR agency pros are constantly talking to reporters who cover different beats and work at outlets of all sizes. An agency’s familiarity with the media landscape also means they are intimately familiar with which reporters are interested in what subjects. Often, agencies think beyond obvious pitches and publications, and are likely more willing to try out-of-the box angles. Don’t forget that 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.
- Creativity. 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 need to fulfill the day-to-day projects. An in-house marketing department 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. A marketing 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.
- Resources. One of the main resources agencies offer outside of the bench strength of its team is its subscription to multiple media databases, which come at a high price. Media databases offer updated contact information, regular media inquiries that lead to high-profile placements, media monitoring tools, and more. Usually the cost of these databases doesn’t make sense for one firm to incur.
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.
- Lower costs. There’s no getting around it: hiring an in-house person is often cheaper than hiring an agency. You also may have more control over a new hire’s hours and salary level versus flexibility with an agency’s fees. However, even when the base cost of someone’s salary is less expensive than an outsourced marketing 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 15+ years. So, you still want advice on what to do? In an ideal world, my 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 strategy and goals while ensuring you have all your bases covered.