How to Balance In-house Marketing With an Agency

December 6th, 2018 by Paula Keller French

How Can an Agency Help Me If I Am a…

Single Person Marketing Team

Single person marketing “teams” can feel isolated and underappreciated. The business owner(s) expect you to handle it on your own, but as you’ve tried to run campaigns, manage vendors, write content, plan the strategy, update your website, and still get results, you find two key challenges:

  1. There isn’t enough time to do it all yourself.
  2. One person rarely has the skills to be strategic, create graphics, update a website, monitor results, and evaluate and manage vendors.

Business Owner

Business owners who manage their own marketing efforts, even when they are working directly with some local media vendors, find that:

  1. Marketing takes a back seat when business operations call for urgent attention.
  2. You got into your business to do what you love, not market what you love.
  3. You are reacting to promotional ideas as they cross your desk, with no real strategy about how to best reach your customers.

Medium to Large Marketing Team

Even medium to large marketing teams often leverage the support of an agency, as they recognize that:

  1. The internal marketing team needs some support in strategy and direction.
  2. The time it takes to execute tactics can get in the way of taking a step back and analyzing what is truly working (and what is not).
  3. It’s a struggle to keep up with new and changing marketing technologies and ideas.

31 questions to ask a marketing agency

But I Don’t Want to Give up Control! How Will I Know Things Are Going Well?

The best agency for you will integrate themselves as part of your team and will include you in the strategy and reporting of results, at a minimum. If you have an in-house team, you should expect them to work together very closely to execute the strategy.

Need help selecting the best agency partner for your business? Download our list of 31 Questions to Ask Your Potential Marketing Agency and read more about selecting the right marketing agency for you.

What Work Should I Trust to an Agency?

Below are just four examples of work we often see handled in-house that are typically better suited to be handled by a qualified agency.

Managing Paid Advertising

A Qualified Agency Will Make Decisions That Are in the Best Interest of Your Business

When you try to do it yourself, Google AdWords gives lots of suggestions that can lead you to spend more money on their platform. Our team leverages these to an extent, but we know how to analyze which suggestions will truly improve your results versus those that will waste your money.

Recently we were speaking to a fun and unique tour company that offers pirate-themed walking tours and learned that Google suggested that they should add “haunted tours” to the keywords for the campaign. While this may look related to Google’s algorithms, a human ads manager knows that when someone is looking for “haunted tours” they are looking for tours that show you the buildings and parks in the city that have haunted stories—and the pirate tour company did not offer such tours. Had they listened to Google and added this to their campaign, they would have spent money on unqualified visitors to their website.

A Qualified Agency Will Use Advanced Targeting Platforms, Not Simplified DIY One-size-fits-some Targeting Tools

Many paid digital advertising platforms offer do-it-yourself versions or options. This can be very appealing to an in-house marketer or business owner who wants to do it themselves (we find the reasons for wanting to do something in-house is either cost or control).

The most common are Google AdWords Express and Facebook’s “boost post” option.

These simplified versions are built to be easy enough that your grandmother can do it, which means there are limited options available. Do you want your marketing to be that simple?

Learn more about Boosted Posts vs. Facebook’s Ad Manager, and how Facebook’s Ads Manager leads to improved results via more robust campaigns.

Website Content
We often hear from businesses, particularly in niche or technical industries, that they believe only they can write the content for their website. Unfortunately, your most expert team members are often also the most over-committed. Our strategy to getting your in-house expertise communicated via your website is through interviews.

Our writer will arrange a call or meeting with the appropriate subject matter expert on your team to interview them about the topic. We will listen for industry language, words that are used, and the way you best explain your company and your services so that we can communicate your vision via your website content. Our team will do research on the topic at hand and come prepared with questions to ask to make the most of the time together.

Feedback & Reviews
A proactive review generation strategy is often done poorly or not at all. We find too often that businesses have something in place that at least checks the box but may not be effectively generating the results they need to protect their reputation online.

We’ll work with you to put automation in place to collect feedback and prompt reviews, while also coaching your team on how to leverage relationships with your customers to earn reviews and testimonials from your raving fans.

Our favorite example of a combo internal & external review generation strategy is Dr. Jeffrey Donaldson, a plastic surgeon in Columbus, Ohio. He has over 350 video testimonials he has earned by offering a best-in-class experience to his patients as well as doing something most businesses don’t—asking for the review!

Newsletters & Email Marketing
Another tactic we see often handled in-house to “check the box” is email marketing. As a recipient of these newsletters, we often find broken links, images, and missing elements that are key to successful e-mail marketing. Sometimes it’s just plain ol’ amateur design that gets in the way of an effective campaign.

We’ll work with you to curate the content, collect the most relevant and timely items to communicate, and take on the hassle and time commitment to make it look its best. What time do I send it? What should the subject say to get opens? Let us handle those questions—each detail impacts your open rate and conversion rate, and we’ll take on optimizing it.

Newsletters, nurture campaigns, or frequent email reminders—what’s right for your audience and your goals? Let us help you figure out the right mix to keep your audience engaged.

What Work Is Best Handled By Your In-House Team?

Build Relationships With Your Customers

This is one thing an agency cannot do for you! Your staff must be trained on how customer service ties into marketing and how each interaction impacts your overall brand.

Each customer touchpoint either has a positive or negative impact on that person’s perception of your business, and impacts their decision of whether they will return, and if they will be sharing a good or bad story when someone says, “Have you ever used X for that?”

Your internal marketing team can support positive interactions by defining and communicating core values and customer service standards, and monitoring and communicating testimonials and feedback (both positive and negative) at regular staff meetings.

Identify Unique Stories That Can Be Included in Marketing

You should also be building relationships with various departments and stakeholders within your organization so that you are more likely to hear about interesting happenings that can be leveraged in marketing. Let’s say you are marketing for a university, and one of your instructors learns of a unique story about one of her students who recently won an award for research. Would your marketing team hear about it?

If you make a point to educate your staff on your marketing goals as well as build relationships, you will increase your likelihood of learning of these stories that you can use in marketing.

Serve as Spokespeople for Public Relations and Media Opportunities

Pick a set of experts on your team with outgoing personalities to represent your company in earned media as well as self-created videos. It’s best to have a go-to list by topic of the best people to speak on a certain subject. This helps you to not always call on the same person, to reduce the time to respond to inquiries, and to have multiple people prepared and ready to speak externally about your company.

Create Day-to-day Organic Social Posts

In some cases, we recommend daily posting to be handled by our clients, provided you have the manpower and the skills in-house. With some of our clients, they simply snap the photo or take the video and pass it on to us to do the daily posting. This can be the best of both worlds—it saves you the time of writing the perfect caption, picking the perfect hashtag, and strategically placing those emojis for maximum impact, while still publishing timely, relevant content to drive new and repeat customers.

Evaluate Marketing Efforts You Currently Handle In-house

31 Questions Checklist square imageFor the aspects you are currently handling internally, take a moment and ask yourself if it’s the right responsibility for your business. As you go through each item think…

Yes, you CAN do it, but…

  1. Are you doing it well?
  2. Are you doing consistently?
  3. Are you monitoring results and making adjustments?
  4. If you were not spending time on this, what else could you be doing?

Want help evaluating your current strategy and approach? Our strategists can help you break down where your work should stop and ours can begin. Fill out the form to the right or give us a call at (504) 208-3900 and we’d be happy to help you figure out if we are a good fit to support your organization’s marketing and business goals!

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