Business team meeting

Business owners and executives have long been debating whether or not to hire an internal marketing team or partner with an agency. On one side you’ll hear “I don’t want to pay the agency fees, let’s start our own internal team” and on the other, you’ll hear “Interviewing, hiring, training, onboarding, etc. will be too long of a process”. While both sides of this argument have merit I want to focus on the hybrid approach. It’s no surprise that top brands not only leverage an internal team with in-depth brand knowledge, but also partner with an agency to tap into their expertise.

It’s easy to get hyper-focused on every detail of a strategy or marketing campaign when you’re living and breathing your brand every day. When you’re inside the jar, you can’t read the label. Bringing in outside agency partners allows new ideas to enter the room. They’re able to look at things objectively and offer solutions from a unique perspective. Oftentimes agency professionals have worked in your industry before, worked with a similar product or even your competition. This experience is invaluable when developing your marketing strategy. The agency team has likely been there and done that. Use that expertise to your advantage and champion the partnership internally. This will create long-term value on both sides of the relationship and both the company and agency can continue to grow.

As a client-side marketer, you are often hired to be the jack of all trades. Your CEO expects you to set the marketing strategy, execute and manage the paid ad campaigns, improve the website, design a new sales brochure and so on. It is difficult to be an expert in all of these things, and I would argue you don’t want to be either! This is where the agency comes in. By starting a partnership you have instant access to expert teams with highly specialized skills. You are no longer a marketing team of one trying to do everything for everyone. You have an army behind you who are all experts in their niche of the marketing process. Instead of setting the strategy, managing the campaign, making website changes and designing collateral by yourself, you have a media strategist, marketing intelligence manager, web developer and graphic designer executing your ideas and bringing your brand life. 

Now that you’ve built a well-oiled marketing machine, you’ve freed up time to focus on the things you’re passionate about. Time is money right? Maximizing value in your department goes far beyond the measurable amount of hours you save outsourcing these projects. Built into an agency relationship you can leverage their existing partnerships driving down costs even further. Platform onboarding fees waived, no minimum ad spend on tough to access marketing technology platforms, no subscription fees to competitive insight tools, and it doesn’t stop there. These cost efficiencies don’t just apply to the costs associated with the platforms themselves, but also how efficiently you can buy media and optimize your campaigns. Each platform is unique, each optimization goal is different and it is imperative they are aligned from the beginning. Your marketing team must know the ins and outs of each platform and how to make data-informed optimizations to drive ROI. Agencies are locked and loaded ready to make these data-informed decisions. They do it day in and day out for all of their clients. It’s what they’ve built their livelihood on. 

On top of cost savings, you can direct your attention to making your internal operations more efficient. How are leads being followed up on? Are any processes creating bottlenecks? Are you utilizing the correct data to make business decisions? All of which were likely sitting on the back burner boiling up to the surface while your attention was on managing ad campaigns. The most important question in those examples is in regards to data. Finding the right data not only helps you make informed business decisions but when you’re able to provide that data to an agency partner, that is where the real work is done. Measuring ROI.

Proving ROI on marketing activity is not an easy thing. Inexperienced marketers often overlook the most important pieces of the puzzle. Setting up the proper tracking, formulating a hypothesis of what you’re hoping to achieve, putting the right systems in place to test, learning from the data to optimize in real-time, segmenting sales data properly based on targeting parameters and objectives. These are some of the many things that must all be perfectly aligned in order to accurately track the ROI of a marketing campaign. This is where the internal team and agency must be in lockstep and operate as true partners. You’ll have more insight into what’s truly moving the needle for your business than you’ve ever had. This is the key to the agency and client-side marketing partnership.

Originally published by the Rochester Business Journal