As a decision-maker at a small-to-medium sized business (SMB), perhaps you’ve started to consider taking your company’s marketing in-house. You’re not alone.
An array of large brands are moving their own marketing programs in-house, with major names like United Airlines and Procter & Gamble leading the pack. In fact, 64 percent of advertisers now follow the in-house agency model according to Forrester research;, that’s up from 42 percent just a decade ago.
The trend toward discontinuing agency partnerships is happening for many reasons. Our economy is doing well, and recent slashes to corporate taxes have freed up resources that businesses can use to move their outsourced activities internally. Some decision-makers, moreover, are feeling pressured to offer a crystal-clear expression of their brand across social channels and other outlets. They see in-house marketing as the best way to take back control over consumer perceptions of their brands.
But for an SMB like yours, there’s no need to divorce yourself from your agency networks overnight, if at all.
What you should do, however, is consider an agency’s specialties when you consider that agency as a future partner. How you outsource your services can have a major impact on your marketing department, and on your entire company, for that matter, so before making a move, educate yourself fully on all of your options and their related risks.
When you hire an agency, go with a specialist.
Outsourcing your company’s marketing program doesn’t mean you’re left with no options. Rather, many decision-makers opting whether to go with an agency may even feel overwhelmed by the choices: Work with a full-service agency? Or a specialty agency?
There are two sides to every coin, of course. Full-service agencies support a more streamlined customer experience. However, big-name agencies may glide by on legacy alone and produce generic, less compelling marketing campaigns. What’s more, full-service agencies often don’t go as deeply into specific service categories, such as PPC or SEO. So, what you gain in efficiencies you may sacrifice in performance.
Conversely, you earn greater value and new capabilities when you leave high-priority, or high-knowledge tasks to the experts. Specialization means agencies say “no” to certain opportunities, but more importantly these agencies can better execute on the campaigns they say “yes” to. That’s a major reason why specialization outperforms full-service more often than not.
Here are some other key benefits of working with a specialist agency:
A boost for your campaign performance
First and foremost, specialist agencies get programs up and running faster than their full-service competitors. The learning curve to drive value from your investment is less steep and positions your team to leverage a rich set of features from day one. For example, a provider like RallyMind can offer unique technologies to help SMBs quickly develop landing pages and master lead-generation.
Both of these tasks are key to early campaign performance, but they can feel like big asks for SMBs to tackle alone and without expertise.
An emphasis on data tracking
Another benefit common to specialist agencies is performance-tracking, as niche agencies must prove their value. Not only is this data-driven approach the antidote to generic campaigns popularized by bigger, full-service agencies, but specialized agencies also work with additional specialists to help SMBs “out-measure” the competition.
For example, savvy specialist agencies may bring on martech partners — like the call-tracking software company CallRail — to better understand and boost the cross-channel performance of their marketing spend.
Call-tracking closes the marketing attribution loop and empowers SMBs to track and measure the relationships among billions of offline and online customer engagements. This added intelligence directly contributes to ROI conversations, helps avoid accidental underreporting and aggregates the data required to help your company make informed business decisions.
A future-proofed organization
Job-hopping is the norm for younger professionals today: 57 percent of millennials, according to a Robert Half survey, no longer feel a stigma around career switches. Employee turnover is practically expected at SMBs, but it can cause major problems when you bring too many responsibilities in-house.
So, what do you do when the head of your marketing department (and sole marketing employee) puts in his or her two-week notice? It’s a daunting reality to find a replacement, gather your departing employee’s insights and ensure the continuity of your marketing program in that person’s absence.
Outsourcing to a specialist agency mitigates these issues. An agency guarantees performance regardless of turnover, and it costs less than hiring on your own full-time (pseudo) expert. What’s more, providers like Trainual are designed specifically to alleviate the pressures of setting employees up for success.
Training distribution platforms do much of the heavy lifting around new education and training rollouts. Keeping training external also means that you don’t lose valuable resources and expertise when employees leave, or your company scales. These advantages “future-proof” your organization against the natural ebb and flow of running an SMB.
Moving forward, agencies will even be able to help SMBs automate common, routine tasks and provide stability as workforces change. For example, ThinkChat’s AI-powered solution automates lead-capture and allows SMBs to operate 24/7 at a low cost.
Every SMB must decide for itself what its best marketing future looks like.
As you consider different options for your company, remember that going in-house is not the only avenue to earn more control over your marketing program or drive greater ROI from your budget. Nor is it always the best option. To ensure your SMB’s marketing is as strong and innovative as it can be, remain open to the benefits a specialist agency can deliver.