Organizations often fumble to answer if they need to produce a product or purchase it. Making a choice between an in-house marketing team and an inbound marketing agency is very similar to the prior situation. This choice is like solving a puzzle. It is just that puzzle is your company’s marketing. The in-house team and your marketing agency are two pieces of a puzzle.
We have chosen to address this dilemma because a lot of my professional colleagues and acquaintances bring up this question. I do not want to answer it with a bias toward working with an agency. But, I want to discuss the strengths and limitations of both institutions to execute great inbound marketing for your business.
The way I will approach this dilemma, is by first debunking a few popular myths and then, catering to the real picture with an optimal solution.
So, here we go!
In-house marketing team versus an Inbound Marketing Agency
Myth #1: Inbound Marketing Agencies are Expensive!
I heard this statement most often. The reality is that when you compare the cost employed to establish an inbound marketing team with an agency, many of the floating variables and future costs are not factored into the decision. These ignored costs do not affect the agency’s service fee as agencies plan for them ahead of time. But, internally, when you assess the choices in black and white, you would be disappointed at a later date, troubled by poor budgets.
An agency is built with the necessary infrastructure, people, network, and acumen to deliver your goals. Before, choosing an agency you should be able to evaluate and summon the availability of these factors. Have a look at the comparison below:
|Factors||Inbound Marketing Agency|
|Content Writers, Graphic Designers||Included||Factored in|
|Subscription cost to marketing tools||Included|
|Use of marketing technology and software||Included|
|External liaisons with other specialized agencies||Included||Not equipped|
|Acumen and Training||Certified and trained personnel can be afforded||
In-house training does not fulfil the needs
|Extreme Delays and time costs||Avoided||Ignored|
This is a glimpse of how costs are truncated by perception while evaluating the worth of agencies.
Does this mean that an in-house marketing team is defunct? Not really. While dealing with an agency, you would need a person or two who understand how an agency works and what needs to be delivered out of the marketing activities. The in-house team should be able to provide company-related information in a timely manner. They should be able to review work, provide inputs and feedback, and respond to reporting updates provided by the agency.
This helps in eliminating loose-ends that would arise due to lack of information, latest updates, and ground-level action from your business. Agencies are well-equipped to deliver your inbound marketing goals, but only when thoroughly supported by insider information and your pulse of passion. No one can be more passionate about your business than yourself.
Myth#2: A writer, a social media intern, and a designer can do the job!
If you have been thinking that two or three people who are either hired full-time or provide services as a freelancer can provide wholesome services of an agency, then you may have to relook. Full-time employees and freelancers provide a very different type of support system and they are mostly in silos.
Agencies cannot afford to do this. Their team works in tandem with multiple departments within your organization to achieve the targeted result. They are result-oriented and hence have full-time specialists and other strong network ties to resolve your problems and execute an inbound marketing campaign with consistency.
For instance, our agency has a team of:
- Account Managers
- Service Delivery Associates
- Inbound Marketing Specialists
- Content Strategists
- Content Writers
- ABM Specialists
- Campaign Managers
- Social Media Specialists
- Graphic Designers
- UX Designers
- Admin and HR
- Sales Associates
- Ad & PPC specialists
- SEO & Organic specialists
- Influencer and PR specialists
- Event Managers
- Offline Campaign Managers
- Association with freelancer networks for unique needs.
Time & Discipline:
Myth#3: I will have time flexibility with an in-house team
Most people think that making a choice between an in-house team and an agency is a matter of saving time. But, it is rather a matter of discipline. Most in-house teams are available on call and are not measured by monthly milestones. This brings a behaviour of procrastinating the tasks and reviews associated with the team.
However, efficient inbound marketing agencies are run by calendars. We set calendars for each task and result. This is distributed for reference among our teams as well as our clients. The teams collaborate using different tools to meet the deadlines. Agencies are also accountable for the success and fulfilment of the services that have been owned by them.
Scaling & Productivity:
Myth#4: On-call in-house teams are very productive.
In-house teams are brought for flexibility but challenge the optimal productivity required by your business. They may struggle to find resources, answers to technical questions that they have not dealt with, or reach out for coaching from seniors within their line of expertise.
Agencies come equipped to find resources, get answers, and provide the necessary coaching to employees working on your project. Inbound marketing agencies time every campaign and project for utmost productivity. Since agencies are accountable for every action, they find productive tools, technologies, and other resources to complete a campaign.
It is often misunderstood that remote access or less perpetuity in personal meetings affects the speed of execution. Agencies that excel come with SLAs that define standard timelines to deliver tasks and provide ample access to the agency resources to communicate back and forth.
Though these are a good set of factors to be considered while making the produce vs outsource decision, I have a simple matrix that can be used to add more clarity to your decision.
The Smarketers’ Agency Matrix
All you have to do is add a score between 1 and 5, to determine what you need to outsource and expect out of an inbound marketing agency. Mark one as the lowest score and five as the highest score. Few rows are filled, to begin with. You can add more factors and customize your scores. The option with the highest score would help you make a choice.
|Determining Factors||Inbound Marketing Agency|
|Add a score|
|Costs to adjust scalability||4||2|
Other Network Associations
Perpetual Knowledge & Acumen
Continuous Coaching & Training
Access to Marketing Technology and Tools
Time Spent by Your Resources