Does your business need a marketing agency?

Your business is two or three years old. You built your website yourself when you started out, you’ve done a great job of getting word of mouth referrals, but awareness of your brand has hit its limit. You want to hire someone to help you reach new customers outside of the people you already know and take the pressure off your team, but marketing skills within your business are limited.

What should you do next? Build an in-house marketing team, perhaps hire a marketing agency, or both? In this blog post, we’ll have a look at some of the pros and cons of each to help you make your decision.

But first it’s time to put your thinking cap on as there’s some important things to consider.

What are your business goals?

Before you make any decisions, you need to decide what it is that you want to achieve with marketing. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, generate more leads, or drive sales? If the answer’s all three, you are likely to need more than one person! Knowing your goals and priorities will help you determine which option is best for your business.

What’s your existing brand like?

Your existing brand – and its strengths and weaknesses – is another important consideration. How strong is your brand identity? Do lots of people know you, or are you struggling to reach the right audience?

The marketing requirements for a business with a consistent visual identity, clear audience and defined strategy will be different to one in early stages of brand building.

What are your competitors doing and who’s your audience?

Understanding your competition and your target audience will help you decide where you need to focus. Competitor research is an important part of a marketing strategy, but just because a competitor is doing something, doesn’t mean it’s working for them! So, take inspiration, sure, but don’t copy other people without testing the water to see what works for your brand and audience.

How actively your competition is marketing its business will set the bar for what you need to do to at least compete on a level playing field.

What’s your budget?

Budget is key, and unfortunately it’s how long’s a piece of string! The age old saying, ‘pay peanuts, get monkeys’ rings true when it comes to hiring a marketing team. It can be tempting to bring in an apprentice or otherwise hire someone without much experience, but this can be a false economy. For a similar, or lower cost, a marketing agency can provide more comprehensive support and expertise.

You do generally get what you pay for when it comes to marketing. Check out our blog on how to define your marketing budget if you’re not sure. 

Should I hire a marketing manager for my small to medium business?

The main benefit of hiring a marketing manager is that your brand is their only focus. You’ll have someone dedicated to getting your business out there and bring in those all-important leads.

They’ll be able to keep track of your KPIs, work on strategies and deliver on a whole host of projects for your brand that you won’t be able to do while ‘marketing’ is done off the side of someone’s desk.

The thing is, it’s tricky to find someone with all-round experience. Instead, your new hire is likely to have skills that are stronger than others. Potentially leaving you a bit exposed when it comes to those areas that they don’t know so much about.

But this is when you have to think about your business goals. What is it you’re trying to achieve? Do you need someone with deep expert knowledge in paid ads or perhaps growing brand awareness through content and thought leadership? Or do you need a jack-of-all-trades who can pitch in wherever you need them to? Make sure you know this before you start the recruitment process.

According to Glassdoor, the average marketing manager salary in the UK is £49,898. Although I’ve definitely seen roles advertised, and filled, paying half this. In those instances, though, you’ve got to question how long it’ll be before the poor monkey is burnt out.

Should I hire a social media manager?

Bringing a social media manager on board means your own dedicated subject matter expert. Social media is constantly changing with algorithm updates, new trends and new platforms arriving all the time. It’s almost impossible to keep up with if you’ve only dipping your toe into the water.

Only a couple of years ago, TikTok was just somewhere Gen Zs posted dance routine videos. Now it’s an invaluable marketing platform for a lot of brands. Your social media manager will be able to adapt your strategy and content based on the latest updates.

There’s a key word in social media that some brands forget all about. Social. It’s supposed to be a two-way conversation with engagement. This means likes, shares and comments. Without this you may as well be talking to a brick wall.

Your brand’s users will want to know that the brand they care about, also cares about them. Your social content needs to be planned around your target audiences. An employee posting at random on your social media profiles, with no plan, will do a disservice to your brand.

Customers also love to have a moan on social media. It’s super important that you respond to all feedback and have an escalation process in place. Social is a great place to demonstrate your amazing customer service. This will be much easier with a social media manager at the helm because, due to its public nature things can go very wrong, very quickly if you have an inexperienced person looking after your social media. All it takes is for one person to screenshot that poorly worded response.

A social media manager will also keep track of KPIs and keep your brand agile, switching creatives or content if your current efforts aren’t doing as well as they could be.

According to Glassdoor, the average salary for a social media manager in the UK is £34,756. Outside of London this will be less, but it gives you an idea of how much you need to budget for.

Should I hire a marketing agency?

Full disclosure, in case you didn’t know already, we are a marketing agency so we might be slightly biased here.

You wouldn’t try and replace your boiler yourself; you’d hire a gas safe engineer. Do you hire an accountant to do your tax returns? It makes sense to outsource roles that call for specialist knowledge. It’s the same for marketing.

The main benefit of hiring a marketing agency rather than hiring in-house is that the agency has access to expertise across a range of marketing areas and can put those skills to use marketing your business. They’ll have dedicated staff for different aspects of marketing, and potentially access to graphic designers, copywriters, web developers, and so on, which is what makes marketing agencies such good value for money because you’ll get access to the skills of an entire team for a fraction of the price of trying to hire all those people yourself.

You see businesses trying to hire one person who can do everything from organising events to building websites and creating viral videos but that’s like trying to hire a dancing unicorn that fires rainbows out of its bum. You’ll never going to find one person who can do all those things to an expert standard.

Another benefit of hiring a marketing agency is that you can scale up and down as needed. It might be that your day-to-day needs only call for a few hours a week but then at peak times, or if a project comes up, you could increase your retainer hours and access the resource that you need. You’d have to go through all the rigmarole of hiring contract staff if you tried to hire that flexible resource in house.

Having an in-house team or using a marketing agency doesn’t have to be an either or. Agency support is vital to many in-house teams. Hiring an agency means tapping into the brain of career specialists who keep on top of industry innovations and new, creative methods of marketing delivery, while you focus on business as usual.

Agencies can also free up your marketing team’s time by outsourcing the heavy lifting. Things like keyword research, URL mapping, buyer personas. All these time-consuming (and, let’s be honest, sometimes boring) tasks can be done by your agency so that you’re left with actionable insights and recommendations to put in place.

Going back to one of the original considerations, budget. It may be a misconception that it’s cheaper to hire in-house than an agency. It’s not just big brands who use agencies and it doesn’t need to be an extravagance.

You’ve not only got salaries to think of when you build an in-house team but there’s all the other costs involved from advertising the vacancies and buying additional equipment like computers and even office chairs (and we know they cost a bomb!) to software licences and ongoing training needs. The list goes on! Plus, once in role your new marketing manager or social media manager might come to you asking for agency support anyway.

You also have the time it takes for your new staff to be fully up and running. By now, you could have hired an agency and already be seeing ROI. Even the most experienced new hire will take time to learn the ropes and become a productive part of the team. Agencies are ready to get started from the moment they’re hired. 

So, what’s the best option for my business then?

You could manage everything in house, but to get the most brains for your money, agency is the way to go. I mean, did you really think we’d suggest anything else!!

For the cost of one in-house hire, you’ll have access to experts who’ve seen what works and doesn’t work with other clients. You’re not just paying for boots on the ground but for consultation, people to bounce ideas around with, and, importantly, people who can get s**t done.

If you’re still not sure what’s right for you, or where to commit your budget, why not start by booking a brand workshop with us? It’s a half-day strategy session where we determine your USP, your brand strategy and recommended marketing activity. You can take it away and action it all yourself, or we can do it for you! Prices start at £2,250 for a half day workshop and bespoke brand strategy to implement straight away.

Get in touch to find out more!

Want to learn more about our brand workshops?

Give us a shout for a no-obligation chat!

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