Marketing for SMBs: Agency VS In-house
After years in the communications industry, and working with small to medium business, I am constantly asked the question of agency versus in-house. Owning an agency for 14 years you might think my answer will be biased and I suppose it is, but it is also valid.
When you are a small to medium business owner there are limitations to what you can offer with regards to marketing in-house and there are generally big holes left within the marketing department (if you even have one), that need to be filled.
Most often what is needed are the services of public relations, social media, online management, creative and not to forget events. You might be thinking that I have just described my own agency, but there is a reason that umm.. and many others exist.
When a client hires us for any one or a selection of our services, for an agreed retainer fee (which generally adds up to a singular wage), they suddenly have an extended team of 10 passionate, communication specialists. A team of people brainstorming ideas, developing effective communication strategies, researching client competition and doing what they do best – delivering key messages to the masses. A team to fulfil the necessary function of any business – exposure to those who need it, desire it, or who will need it in the future. If you are not out there, you can be forgotten.
I can’t say how other agencies operate, but talking from my own offering and some of my fellow colleagues, we believe that 10 heads are better than one. I might be Director, but certainly not the ideas dictator. I believe in my team and some of the most interesting ideas to come out of a umm.. brainstorming session can come from the intern. Or, the most outside the box PR idea will come from the digital technician, so you get where I am coming from. A different perspective is crucial to creativity and creativity is the only way to attack a communications strategy.
That is why we survive and are necessary to businesses that don’t have the ability to employ a comprehensive marketing and creative department in-house. If you are to create a successful communications campaign then you generally need a team to orchestrate it.
The expertise, passion and vision from an agency that does nothing else but work on communications is highly valuable. And you get a real drive to succeed from an agency, as we are also small business, who work hard to survive and do well in a competitive market.
So what is the conclusion? If you don’t have a marketing department that houses all the elements of communications, then find an agency that does. It will be an investment with real return.