Marketing Agency vs. In-House Hiring: Which One Is Best?
Find the best approach for your marketing efforts, taking the top 15 skillsets needed for maximizing B2B demand generation into consideration
With 25 years in B2B marketing—from market research to product management to agency consulting—I have found that marketing firms have a 3x faster and bigger impact than a full-time hire, often at a lower cost – if you find the right agency, and these two approaches are not mutually exclusive.
Effective Demand Generation Requires a Multitude of Skillsets
Marketing agencies use a team of specialists vs. expecting one person to be able to do it all. Maximizing demand and lead generation today requires a multitude of skill sets – here are the top 16:
- Marketing auditing, due diligence and strategy
- Market research and competitive intelligence
- Branding starting with brand storytelling (then design)
- Content strategy and campaign formulation
- Web and graphic design
- Website development
- Keyword research and onsite search engine optimization (SEO)
- Offsite SEO (a.k.a. link building done responsibly – no black hat)
- Search engine marketing (SEM), a.k.a. pay-per-click (PPC – e.g. Google and Bing Ads, LinkedIn Campaigns)
- Marketing automation strategy and implementation (e.g. HubSpot and Zoho)
- Outbound campaign execution including email and direct mail
- Account based marketing (ABM e.g. – RollWorks and ZoomInfo MarketingOS)
- Video production, including script writing
- Public relations, including unpaid article placements and speaking engagements
- Social media including content repurposing
More than Just Communications Needed for Effective Marketing
And that’s just marketing communications – a.k.a. the fourth P, “promotions.” A truly holistic approach from a marketing consulting agency also spans the 4 Ps:
- Products & Services: current line-up, future roadmap, target markets, differentiation, etc.
- Pricing: methodology, applying value and market-based pricing, application for channel partners and end-users, promotional pricing, etc.
- Channel Marketing: target channel partners, programs, discount structure, channel marketing, website portals, etc.
Cost-Effectiveness & Ramp-Up
Agencies that work on an annual, programmatic approach typically often cost less than what you’d pay a full-time, entry-level employee. Innovaxis clients typically start out with a program that costs between $3,000 to $5,000 per month over 12 months that includes strategy, content and digital marketing deliverables – some are projects and some are executed every month.
However, this isn’t always the case: agencies that typically work with large companies vs. small and mid-sized businesses and nonprofits may want to start you at $5,000 to $10,000 per month.
Agencies also tend to get up to speed faster. We are expected to produce results starting in the first 2-6 months. Full-time employees often take 3-9 months to ramp up, though agencies can too unless they have a rapid way to learn your business – either because they’ve worked in your industry or have a market research background that can be leveraged in a methodology like the brand story process.
Agency Effectiveness Depends on Full-Time Hires
Your agency can’t work in a vacuum – for best results they need a day-to-day contact to keep up with all deliverables and someone, often executive leadership or the owner of a small business, who can make decisions on strategy, deliverables and spending.
Owners and executives who direct their agency to “go and do some marketing” and expect the leads to roll in will be disappointed. Results require a strategic, holistic and collaborative effort between you and the agency.
Start with Strategy
Whichever route you go, there must first be a marketing strategy to achieve your demand generation and sales goals that identifies what needs to be done, by whom, how success will be measured, and what it will cost (based on different options). It’s our belief that any good marketing strategy starts with an audit.