Agency » Agency, Freelancer or In-house?
As content marketers, it’s relatively easy for us to spout the whys and wherefores of why content is so key these days and how it is definitely not a buzzword. The pressure to get your content marketing in order is a real challenge facing businesses today. It can be tempting to either take some time out to try and tackle it yourself, or hire a freelancer. This is sure to work out cheaper in the long run rather than hiring an expensive agency, right? It may surprise you that there are many reasons why hiring a content marketing agency might be a thriftier solution. Here’s our pick of the top ten:
Content marketing isn’t a standalone discipline – every element needs to connect under one clear strategy. Successful content creation is so ingrained in the digital marketing mix, that it’s not really appropriate to treat it as a separate entity. It’s much better to be considered as part of an overall plan if possible. This is where agencies can really help you. By considering all of the marketing options available, a team of experts is far more likely to see how all the different puzzle pieces can fit to your business’s needs.
Most marketing agencies will constantly review your marketing strategy and make new suggestions as your business grows and evolves. It’s ultimately up to you what recommendations you choose to prioritise. You are fully in control of where the emphasis lies at any given time. If you hire someone to look after your marketing in-house, you lose a certain amount of this flexibility. Tailoring marketing spends is more difficult, as you are committed of paying a salaried marketing professional.
When you start to calculate what marketing professionals need to create the best work for you and your company, there’s little room for compromise on quality. Industry standard software and equipment, let alone subscriptions to specialised analysis tools all mount up to thousands of pounds worth of investment. The list really is endless. Agencies will already have all of these tools as standard at their disposal, meaning less overheads for you.
You also have the hassle of hiring these whizz kids. And if you’re not a marketing specialist yourself, it can be tough to work out whether a candidate really cuts the mustard. Knowing the right attributes and skills to look for on a CV can be a challenge if you’re not really au fait with the industry. Of course, even if you hit the jackpot and get a suitable person in – just the recruitment process alone is time-consuming and costly. Advertising the position, shortlisting, interviews, selection, waiting for the candidate to work their notice, induction, training, equipment, office space. An agency not only takes all this time and effort off your hands, they also have the skills, contacts and experience to make sure they get the best people with the right skills.
Agencies can offer you access to a team of experts, all with their own specialist knowledge, but they take the hard work out of organising this advice, saving you time and money. Rather than you consulting a designer, an SEO executive, and a web developer and having to amalgamate all of this advice, agencies do all of this for you. All of the benefits of having access to professionals without the headache. Win win! Having one main point of contact, your account manager, is also a major plus. These organisational ninjas (I can say this, because I am one!) basically represent you and your business and communicate this to the rest of the teams. Understanding your viewpoint and getting to know your brand is the account manager’s realm.
Agencies not only share their expertise and experience; they share their industry contacts too. They are more likely to be able to negotiate larger discounts for you, whereas a freelancer is unlikely to have the print volume to facilitate this. Agencies usually deal with a large roster of printing companies, meaning they are equipped to get the best deal for you, and you get the printing know-how to boot.
It would seem that by doing your marketing yourself, or employing someone in-house, you have more control over your budget. However this isn’t always the case. With a salaried employee, it’s very difficult to mark out exactly where their time is spent on a project-by-project basis. Therefore tracking the success of your campaigns, and calculating the return on your investment is more difficult. With an agency, your investment is clear from the very start. Time estimates, schedules and project reports are all part and parcel of dealing with an agency for your marketing needs. Therefore when it comes to your business plans, the marketing side of the paperwork is done for you.
Having a marketing employee in your own office or hiring an on-hand freelancer opens up easy avenues of communication. But is it as effective for you and the person completing the work? It may surprise you that having your marketing under someone else’s roof actually makes things a lot simpler. Sometimes a little distance from a project is helpful, to allow the work to flow leaving to you to observe and consider from your business’s point of view. By doing your marketing in-house you lose this essential benefit. Discussions and feedback are structured, you can be as actively involved as you wish, and everything is on your terms. And you discuss your marketing needs when it suits you, at a time when it suits your business.
Put simply, your agency may come up with ideas and proposals that would have never crossed your mind. The beauty of handing over a brief to a group of experienced marketers is the excitement of relishing what concepts they will feed back to you. And you don’t only get the ideas of one or two people, but those of a whole time with a wide variety of backgrounds and experience. And every so often you get to escape from the office and spend time with a creative and hopefully friendly bunch!
In an agency you have an amalgamation of people from all different industries. This is great news for your business as a wide breadth of experience other than marketing is at your disposal. This means a much wider scope for your marketing plan – agencies can look at what works in many different markets to see what would be successful for your business. In other words, they can steal ideas and tactics from different industries, tactics that no one else in your niche might have even considered.
Some believe that marketing is all about the here and now and getting things moving quickly. Whilst there’s truth in this, when you work with a decent agency they will always have the future of your business’s marketing in mind. Agencies take into account where you see your business heading when coming up with marketing strategies. Whilst your mind may be focussed on that next big campaign, your marketing professionals will be considering how it will look years down the line. It’s essential to consider the long-term in any profession. But in an industry as fast-paced as marketing, consideration of the longevity of ideas are as important as what’s going on right now. Hence our name, To The End (we’re not just mad Blur fans!).