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Hiring a Marketing Agency: Know When to Tap Out

August 16, 2017
Redstitch Team

As the story of every successful business unfolds, there comes a point where the protagonist (that’s you) encounters some type of obstacle to growth, fortune, and their rightful place in the prologue of happily ever after. These barriers come in all shapes and sizes, but consistently manifest in varying degrees of what we loosely call ‘pain’.

Pain in the workplace is a simple concept that can be easily defined as all the persistent, irritating problems that make your job more difficult than it has to be. Now, let’s be clear. Recognizing your own business pain and actually doing something about it are two different things.

Lots of businesses become successful by focusing on their product, refining their sales process, and mastering customer service — all without a whole lot of pain. But, eventually, everyone hits a wall.

And, in our experience, when you inevitably hit that seemingly insurmountable barrier separating you from scalability and sweet, sweet business growth, the root cause of your pain will often originate from an underperforming (or nonexistent) marketing program.

Slumping sales, lack of brand consistency, and an underperforming website are just three examples of real world business pains that can be remedied with better marketing.

When it comes to marketing pain, timing is crucial.

History has proven in order to effectively grow a business, you’ll eventually need to invest in marketing.

If you choose to ignore the symptoms of marketing pain, you run the risk of losing revenue, market advantage, and even your company’s top talent.

So when does it make sense to ask for marketing help?

Some companies opt to put it off for years, while others choose to delegate marketing work to their untrained staff. (You can guess how that plays out.)

Even when a business opts to hire in-house marketers, they usually end up stretching those employees too thin, which can lead to inconsistent execution and unpredictable results.

Pain is a part of any business, but there are certain types of pain that should never be ignored. In this post, we’re going to explore specific pain symptoms that are indicative of underperforming marketing, and discuss how hiring a marketing agency can help.

1. You’re Experiencing Total Marketing Paralysis

Symptom: You don’t even know where to start.

Lots of business owners are aware they need some form of marketing. Maybe your website needs updating or your branding is stale and unrefined.

A 2016 study found 1 in 10 small businesses don’t invest in marketing … AT ALL. I guess when you have a million other things on your plate, it’s hard to know where to start.

Marketing paralysis can be particularly bad if you’re simply not wired for marketing in the first place. A lot of people hate it. And, as a marketer myself, I understand why. This job can be incredibly complicated, fast-paced, and tedious.

In a world where mapping out a strategic marketing plan, then actually following through is a feat in and of itself, business owners should consider themselves fortunate that most marketing agencies live for that type of work.

Solution: A marketing agency will hit the ground running for you.

They might be your company’s first partner agency, but you’re probably not their first client. A marketing agency will bring fresh perspectives and the latest technologies to the table.

Where in-house marketing teams require a lot of time to ramp up and achieve organizational alignment, external marketing agencies are more nimble and can be ready to execute faster. They can jump in it at any point to do the necessary research, build a strategy, and get started.

2. Marketing Is Never a Company Priority

Symptom: Your company consistently puts marketing on the back burner.

Do you rely on ‘To Do Lists’?

I do.

They’re a great way to prioritize your time and stay organized.

Inevitably, though, certain To-Do’s make it on your list but never seem to get crossed off.

For a lot of companies experiencing consistent pain, those stubborn, uncrossable items are usually marketing-related.

One reason this happens is the people who often end up ‘responsible’ for marketing at small businesses are simultaneously trying to keep the lights on … which is probably what they’re good at, and where they should be spending their time, anyway. Month-after-month, they’ll push back even the lowest-hanging marketing fruit in favor of more pertinent, familiar work.

When companies make a habit of dumping marketing tasks into the laps of non-marketing staff, they forfeit any chance at marketing effectiveness and consistency. Not to mention, untrained marketers tend to end up burnt-out on marketing altogether, which contributes to a company’s growing To-Do list of marketing tasks.

Solution: Agencies Help You & Your Team Be More Efficient

Hiring a marketing agency means hiring a team to do one job, a team with one singular focus: getting marketing done so your non-marketing staff can focus on their work.

Keep in mind, in-house marketers with lots of additional responsibilities are often forced to shelve long-term marketing initiatives in order to put out smaller, more frequent fires. Having a partner agency ready to go-to-bat frees up your team to focus on what THEY do best.

3. Your Business is Mature, But Sales are Slowing

Symptom: You’re confident in every aspect of your business, except marketing.

Dream with me for a minute …

You’ve already built up a successful business that offers a rock-solid product or service. You’ve developed the sales process; you even hired and trained a sales team. Your customers are happy, and so are you.

Stories like this exist. And they can even work, until sales begin to stall.

Yes, it is theoretically possible to build a mature business without ever focusing on marketing. But, in order to effectively scale any business, you’ll be required to focus time and financial resources on developing and implementing a marketing strategy.

Solution: Hiring a marketing agency allows you to stay focused on business health and growth.

Your business isn’t going to scale itself, and no one is more qualified to keep the ship on course and the customers happy than you. But, very few small businesses enjoy an active sales funnel without some type of marketing program.

Hiring a dedicated marketing agency to fill your sales funnel allows a company’s leadership team to spend their time on activities pertinent to overall business health … instead of trying to figure out Twitter.

4. You Don’t Have the Right In-House Talent

Symptom: Your marketing team has a serious skill-gap.

First and foremost, there is nothing wrong with admitting your team has gaps in their skillset. You cannot expect people who lack a formal marketing education or practical marketing experience to understand the complexities of digital strategy. Even with an in-house marketing team, large and small organizations regularly experience skill-gaps.

In fact, according to a 2012 study from Eloqua, 75% of marketers say their lack of skills is impacting company revenue in some way, and 74% say it’s contributing to misalignment between marketing and sales teams. THAT’S A BIG DEAL!

Smart businesses are willing to admit when they need professional help.

Solution: Hiring a marketing agency means you don’t have to hire executives or specialized employees.

Hiring the right marketing agency gets you access to a team of specialists. You’ll essentially be working with:

  • Marketing Strategists
  • Marketing Managers
  • Content Writers
  • Web Developers
  • Graphic Designers
  • User Experience Experts
  • Videographers
  • Plus a lot more

Imagine the cost of onboarding an experienced team even half as diverse as that list. The salary requirements alone would be entirely unattainable for most businesses.

Which brings up another great point — depending on your circumstances, you could potentially save on overhead by hiring an agency, since agency resources don’t require typical employee benefits and salaries.

Don’t forget the technology gap!

Is your company deprived of crucial marketing technology resources? Or have you tried (and failed) to implement any number of incompatible marketing technologies over time?

The right agency partner can help you close the technology gap by onboarding their own time-tested software solutions, or help you troubleshoot your legacy technology assets.

5. You Have Capacity and Need to Start Growing

Symptom: You know you could (and should) be doing more marketing.

It’s painfully obvious when you could be doing more to market yourself. Granted, there’s no universal standard for the question “how much marketing is enough?” but you’ll definitely recognize the lag as it’s happening.

You’ll know if your staff can handle more capacity. Or if sales are beginning to plateau, you’re losing market share, or cash flow is slowing.

Maybe your company is poised for growth, but your marketing team is tapped for capacity and already firing on all cylinders. If your company is marketing itself today, you’ll inevitably reach a point when what you can do ‘in-house’ is no longer enough.

Solution: A marketing agency can scale your marketing program.

If you already have an in-house marketing team, imagine pairing their intimate knowledge of your brand with the fresh ideas and practical experience of an outside agency. The value of blending internal and external resources – when done right – is incredible.
Want to hear a recipe for business growth? Allow your in-house marketing team to actively scale their efforts by hiring a partner agency, which simultaneously frees up your leadership team to focus on internal processes.
Boom.

6. Inconsistent Marketing is Now the Norm

Symptom: Your marketing results and reporting are all over the place.

Focus is hard to come by in the marketing world, and a marketing team that cannot deliver the business-critical results and reporting you need to effectively run a business will consistently slow you down.

Inconsistent marketing usually isn’t cause to fire anyone or give up on a marketing program. You probably just need some outside help to regulate your efforts.

Solution: Marketing agencies sell consistency.

Historically, traditional marketing agencies weren’t concerned with consistency.

Awareness marketing (think TV, billboards, and radio) drove results in short, expensive spikes. But that was then, and this is now.

In the world of digital marketing, consistency has become a pillar of success.

With the right marketing agency, you can design a program that is both consistent and predictable. Your execution will be more regular, your results will be repeatable, and your reporting will be more relevant to your business.

You Have the Power to Solve Your Own Marketing Pain

Too often business owners focus on the wrong questions.

They ask themselves, “how can I afford to work with a marketing agency?”

Granted, agency partnerships aren’t for everyone, but most companies underestimate the cost of alternatively hiring in-house marketing talent, and totally overlook the long term value of having a marketing agency at their beckon call.

Instead of asking, “how much will this cost me?” they should be asking, “how long can I afford to waste my time, budget, and internal resources by ignoring my marketing problems?”

To recap, hiring a marketing agency can help businesses …

  • Get started with marketing and hit the ground running.
  • Be proactive and start knocking out long-term, important marketing tasks.
  • Free up leadership teams to focus on internal processes, instead of marketing.
  • Begin to scale by delivering a consistent stream of leads to the sales team.
  • Fill obvious gaps in your company’s marketing technology and skill sets.
  • Empower in-house marketing teams by giving them access to highly-specialized web professionals.
  • Get consistent execution, results, and reporting that moves the company towards long-term goals.

You can ignore your ongoing symptoms of business pain, if you want. You can continue to struggle, but there’s strength in knowing when to tap out and call in the big guns.

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