Decision, decisions: as a small business owner, you’ve had to make lots of them.
Once you know you want to invest in consistent marketing for your brand (bravo!), you have yet another decision to make. Should you:
- Keep marketing efforts in-house, hiring a full or part-time employee, or
- Hire an outside marketing agency
In different instances, both of these options can be effective for maintaining a successful marketing strategy.
So how do you know what’s best for your specific business? Before you can answer, you have to first think about what you want to achieve.
Questions to ask yourself?
What are your goals when it comes to growing your business?
Before you spend a dime, you need to have a clear vision of the future of your business, both in the immediate future and long-term. Marketing can help achieve so many goals because it embodies numerous efforts (e.g., increasing your social clout, driving more people to your website, increasing brand awareness, and of course, helping to increase sales).
- Once you have specific goals outlined, prioritize which goals you want to achieve with the help of a marketing strategy. (You don’t necessarily have to know the “how” — that’s what marketers are for — just be sure you know the “what.”)
What is your budget?
Second to your mission is, of course, your budget. As a small business, you’re used to running lean operations, but marketing requires an investment. Spending money to build brand awareness now can lead to increased sales in the future. Think about how much you can realistically invest right now. That figure will help determine what your marketing efforts will be able to look like each month.
What level of involvement are you looking for?
When it comes to your business’ marketing efforts, do you want a lot of input and oversight, or would you rather delegate tasks so you can focus on other areas of the business? Depending on which marketing option you choose, your role may look very different (e.g., with an in-house marketer, you would serve as a day-to-day manager, but with an agency, you would sign off on strategy and creative yet remain relatively uninvolved in daily execution).
The benefits of an in-house marketer
Hiring an in-house marketing professional is a common route for small businesses to take since there are significant benefits, including:
When you add a marketing professional to your team, that person benefits from deep, insider knowledge of your brand. A close relationship and understanding of the full operations of the business means that they will have a clear picture of what’s happening and how marketing can help fill in gaps and create greater momentum.
For small business owners looking to oversee and manage the marketing process, an in-house team member can be the ideal option. They offer full-time accessibility so you can remain highly involved at each step of the process. We know that lots of small business owners feel very tied to their business and aren’t ready to hand over control to third parties. If you’re in this stage, it could be best to try to hire someone in-house (at least at first).
A full-time employee is solely dedicated to your brand. Their only focus is marketing your company, whereas an agency will be balancing other clients and accounts.
Liaison for Additional Marketing Partners
Some companies decide to hire a marketing professional who can then coordinate and review the work of third-parties such as agencies, freelancers, and part-time employees. This can be a great solution for small business owners who want to grow their marketing efforts, but don’t want to manage all the moving parts of a comprehensive marketing strategy.
The benefits of an agencies
While in-house marketers are a common solution, marketing agencies offer a lot of different benefits to small businesses like yours. It’s worth checking out local marketing agencies near you to see what unique advantages the team could offer. These often include:
Diverse Skill Sets.
Today’s marketing best practices call for a symbiotic relationship between creative ingenuity and analytical strategy. Marketing efforts created in an agency environment like Ardent’s benefit from the expertise of an array of specialists in content, design, social media management, digital advertising, and SEO. Rarely can small businesses achieve the same blend of skills in-house; when hiring just one marketing professional, you’re limiting your marketing efforts to a professional with one specific skill set.
With an agency, you benefit from a team of professionals working together for your success. Content, social, strategy, and analysis can all come together smoothly from a team that works together daily.
Marketing agencies have a lot of experience in both what works — and what doesn’t — for brands of similar sizes or industries to yours. Because of this, they can see what’s working for other clients and offer your brand some valuable perspective. In addition, creativity is sometimes easier to maintain as marketing professionals hop between different brands, campaigns, and goals. In-house team members dedicated to solely one brand may experience burnout.
Lack of Turnover.
Agencies offer consistency, as compared to in-house positions that may experience frequent turnover. It’s important to remember that many junior level or mid-level marketing professionals typically change jobs every 2-3 years.
No Employment Hurdles.
When working with an outside agency, costly employment overhead, as well as management time and resources, are avoided. In fact, for some small businesses, hiring a full-time employee may not be feasible or may strain cash flow. Hiring a full-time employee can also increase the amount of time and resources you spend managing your employees.
Marketing agencies will monitor results and tweak campaigns to achieve better results. If you are trying to handle marketing yourself or are working with an in-house employee, you’ll likely have to still handle management and review of the work on a consistent basis. Agencies can self-review and pull reports so you don’t have to sort through the mess of numbers to determine your real results.
Whether you decide to hire in-house or decide to hire an agency, both are a step in the right direction since marketing is essential to a healthy business model. In this post, we’ve only brushed the surface on what “marketing” entails, as it can be hard to sum it up in just a few words.
But, we can confidently say that it’s not a magic pill or a quick fix.
Marketing your brand, no matter how you go about it, is a long-term process that takes patience, foresight, and trust in the process. However, the results (sustainable growth, brand loyalty, and financial success, just to name a few) are well worth the investment.
If you think a digital marketing agency could be right for you, or you’d like to discuss more of the ins and outs of partnering with a marketing agency, contact Ardent Creative. Our past work shows how we can generate valuable interest in your brand to bring more qualified customers through the door.