Great question. The answer is two-fold:
- It depends, and
- It doesn’t have to be either/or
To be totally sure you make the right decision – right for you and your company – you should base the decision on your overall business goals. You must be clear about how your marketing will deliver on those goals, and then you can decide the best way to do your marketing. Recruiting one or more full-time marketing specialists to direct and manage this strategic part of your business success is one choice. Working with an outside agency that specializes in the deliverables you need is another. A third option is to decide if you can maximize – immediately and into the future – on the advantages of both options. Let us discuss the three primary factors associated with the two separate options.
Immediate and Long-Term Results
Whether you recruit or contract in, it is always about results. The current size of your business points you more in one direction or another. If you are a smaller but growing company you may not have an employee with the skills, experience and track record you want, so you must spend time and money hiring one. Then you have to wait until that new employee is up to speed and starts delivering results. At that point you know if you will keep or need to change that employee. If you run a large, well-established and successful business, you will find it easier to recruit the right person.
To get immediate results you may choose to hire a specialist agency. You pay agencies to get results – both immediately and into the future. The agency will already have a track record, should have broader experience in your particular field than a single employee, and will deliver immediate results.
The right agency will also be able to call on its own in-house expertise to shine more lights on the goals you want to achieve and the problems you want to solve. This will make your marketing all the more powerful.
It costs money to recruit, employ and keep key personnel. It costs money to contract with a specialist marketing agency. Your company’s own circumstances will enable you to calculate how you will get the best return on your investment. A good agency will explain how they will deliver maximum ROI by contracting with them. Your recruitment agency, and your short-listed interviewees should do the same.
Effective marketing produces tangible results. Marketing feeds your sales team with new opportunities, so they can close more business, grow new accounts, and expand your market footprint.
It is essential that you direct and control this function. If you, or another senior member of the team, have the expertise to manage the individuals and their actions, then in-house may be the way to go. Manage well and you control the direction and the results.
If you prefer to focus more on market direction and intended results, you may prefer to leave managing the project activity to others. A successful agency will manage its own activity, and measure its own results by its clients’ results.
Best of Both Worlds?
A good marketing agency will integrate well. They do it with their other clients, so they will do it with you. Your own employees know your company’s culture better than an outside agency, in the short term. Linking the two may be a powerful option. Using your own employees to handle the marketing activity they currently do well may be a cost-effective decision. Bringing in an outside agency to handle a new project or to enhance existing processes, so your company grows more quickly and more certainly than it may have done, otherwise, could also be a great decision.