When Does It Make Sense To Hire A Holistic Digital Marketing Agency Vs. An In-House Marketing Department?
E-commerce and direct to consumer service (including SaaS, aPaaS, etc.) companies, who want to grow by factors of 2x, 3x, or 10x plus, in the next 6 to 24 months know that skilled marketing has the highest potential for impact on brand awareness, engagement, sales, and customer loyalty. As you consider the best approach to realize that growth, here are the pros and cons of hiring in-house staff vs. enlisting a holistic marketing agency.
Although his article was written from the perspective of a holistic marketing brand strategist, you’ll learn why a holistic marketing approach builds profitable brands that last. You can also use the information below to gain insights and discover techniques to help you grow your business.
As you go through this article, make a list of what resources you currently have and what you’ll need, then see what makes the most sense for your business goals.
Here Are The Top 6 Considerations For Hiring Marketing Services:
- Your Goals and Requirements
- Direct and Indirect Costs
- Marketing Expertise
- Bandwidth and Scalability
- Brand Knowledge
No matter what you decide, remember that you’re investing in a job to be done and what you want is for that job to be done as efficiently and effectively as possible. The jobs aren’t just tasks you check off on a list, you’re hiring for a specified desired result.
You’re also hiring for experience and insight.
IBM founder Thomas J. Watson said almost the exact same phrase, "The ability to ask the right question is more than half the battle of finding the answer."
And Voltaire contributed similarly in this thought, "Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers."
Once you’ve explored the better questions, it’s time to focus on making the changes needed within your organization and your interactions with your customers to achieve the results.
The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.
— Albert Einstein
Your Goals and Requirements
What do you want to accomplish? Don’t rush through this section. Or, at least come back to invest time to get a clear perspective. This is the heart of your business. Let’s ensure a healthy heart with the proper exercises and what your company consumes (subscribes to, believes, and stands for).
Important Questions To Ask Yourself:
Do you want to be the authority in your industry? Do you want to be at least one of the top 5? After re-reading your vision and mission statements, where is your company 5 years from now? What are the best opportunities to reach beyond your goal? How have you established a relationship with your customers? What value do you provide them? Why won’t they go anywhere else?
Once you have a clear idea of the customer experience you want to deliver, what resources are going to be needed? Do you need a copywriter, a designer, a search engine optimizer, videographer, web developer, Amazon team, campaign manager, or a business strategist, etc.?
Now that you have a list, who on your current team has the experience and bandwidth to take on the work? Now, what additional talent do you need to make your vision a reality?
After having a clear understanding of what you want, do you have a clear path to take you there? Of course, there will always be the occasional surprise or obstacle. Do you perform a Cause and Effect Analysis for decisions?
How big is your dream? Who is in your circle challenging you and cheerleading for you to go bigger and help you succeed? Choose your inner circle wisely.
Who you hang out with determines what you dream about and what you collide with. And the collisions and the dreams lead to your changes. And the changes are what you become. Change the outcome by changing your circle.
— Seth Godin
Direct and Indirect Costs
In-house team: In the graphic below, you can see what the median salary is for each role you may be looking to hire. This may be slightly higher or lower depending on your location and the experience they bring to the table.
The indirect costs can be a lack of experience, training, turnover, and potential liability. Payroll expenses, sick leave, and a poor attitude also contribute to these costs.
“According to Gallup's State of the American Workplace: 2010-2012 report, employee engagement levels remain stagnant among U.S. workers. By the end of 2012, as the U.S. inched toward a modest economic recovery, only 30% of American workers were engaged, or involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their workplace.”
The above 2012 study from Gallup shows that 70% of U.S. employees were not engaged or committed to doing the job they had been hired to do. The pie chart image below shows a separate global study in 2020. While the engaged number is 11% higher globally, the unengaged is still high, and the Actively Disengaged is even higher than the Gallup study. How do these numbers compare to the culture in your company? How much do those who are actively disengaged cost your brand?
A holistic marketing strategy, specifically the internal marketing component, helps you find, inspire, and collaborate with people who believe in your cause who work enthusiastically to achieve your combined goals.
By adding or re-focusing your vision with a holistic approach, you’ll be able to square and strengthen your foundation, which prepares you for vertical and horizontal growth.
How Much Does A Holistic Marketing Agency Cost?
Once you determine what your needs and goals are, the marketing strategist will provide a bid for services as well as a schedule for performance.
The investment here is determined by how quickly you want to create awareness, connect with your audience, and grow your brand.
Your integrated strategist will meet regularly with you or members of your staff to assure proper integration and messaging. It is imperative we integrate with your team in order to achieve your desired results.
Holistic Marketing Expertise
For both the in-house team and the agency, finding people with the talent and ability to deliver results is determined by the individuals’ experience. Just like players on a basketball team, the longer they play together, the more likely they are to be cohesive and dynamic.
While generating sales on your e-commerce site is a valuable skill set, building a brand involves a team of experts, working together to deliver the experience that inspires your customers to become loyal promoters.
Your marketing needs to meet your audience where they are and lead them step by step to their own transformation. If your brand helps them achieve self-actualization, a better feeling about themselves or even instills hope, you’ll contribute to the individuals’ lives in a meaningful way.
As new technologies emerge, a marketing agency that works with a broad range of clientele will provide you additional benefits by keeping you informed of the most current trends, changes, and opportunities.
Other areas of expertise that are beneficial is familiarity with cognitive-behavioral psychology behind marketing [link to the psychology of marketing] and knowledge of the 12 brand archetypes.
Bandwidth and Scalability
At the beginning of this article, you may have looked at your current team to see if you could identify anyone with the skills, experience, and bandwidth to help achieve your company's goals. As your new advertising campaign brings results, you’ll be faced with scaling other parts of your business to accommodate the growth. Your marketing may also need to expand as new opportunities present themselves. For example, what is the capacity of your third-party suppliers? Is there a plentiful supply of raw materials? Do you have multiple sources in case one source gets eliminated or industry demand increases? How about new equipment investments and additional human resources for customer support, operations, and sales?
Growth for most companies is the forefront goal, and with a holistic approach, you’ll be able to plan with more foresight
With the networks and relationships with marketing talent and other agencies, our holistic marketing agency can pivot quickly to easily accommodate your new rate of growth. And, because of your integrated relationship with our strategist, we’ll advise and provide cause and effect analysis to help you better prepare for the growth.
You’ll also want to consider your production capacity and agreements with distributors to ensure the highest ROI possible. Consider your growing pains. Example: If you want to 5x your business in the next year, how much more product do you need to produce to get those numbers? Is your current production team capable of fulfilling those orders? Will you have to hire more personnel for your production team? If you are using a third-party production company, what will the costs be of producing more products? Will their fees increase or decrease?
Do you already have distribution agreements with other companies? Do those agreements give you a positive ROI after factoring in all the additional costs of production? Would your company benefit from becoming an e-commerce company only? These are the kind of questions a reputable marketing company can help you answer.
An understanding of your brand and your ethos plays a critical role in your voice and how you interact with your audience. An in-house team can definitely have the advantage here. As they interact on a daily basis with others across departments, and current customers, they quickly see firsthand the pain points, systems that work, and most importantly the systems that don’t. They can also collaborate on the fly and make quick decisions.
In hiring an agency, the ideal relationship would be to have regular meetings with an integrated holistic marketing strategist. In this way, they can help ensure brand focus and your campaigns are in alignment with the vision of the company, as well as problem solve and provide creative solutions.
One caution is how your products or brand can be limited by being pigeonholed into remaining who you are as a company and whether or not you evolve. The phenomenon that limits many companies is groupthink, which is common among teams that have worked together for years.
When the same group of individuals meets day in and day out for years, it’s possible to get stuck operating in “groupthink”. Below are two slightly different definitions.
- - The practice of thinking or making decisions as a group in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility. ~ Oxford Languages Dictionary
Investopedia defines Groupthink as a phenomenon that occurs when a group of individuals reaches a consensus without critical reasoning or evaluation of the consequences or alternatives. Groupthink is based on a common desire not to upset the balance of a group of people.
We've all seen companies that have been around for 30 or 40 years and are doing things the same way or mostly the same way they did things 20 years ago.
What are the problems you’ve experienced with groupthink? How does it currently affect your business? How do you protect your company from the limitations of future groupthink?
Although this may not be your culture and environment, it’s important to seek insight in uncommon places to bring fresh perspectives. This results in new innovations, both internally (which is part of the holistic marketing strategy), and externally with products and/or services that create more value for your customers.
An agency that works with a number of clients, can bring ideas and experiences gleaned from completely different industries as yours and provide game-changing observations.
Combining In-House Resources With A Holistic Marketing Agency
Growing a brand requires specialized knowledge and skills to market your vision, products, and/or services.
If you already have a marketing department with copywriters, designers, web developers, videographers, an SEO and ad specialist, an agency may still be able to improve your campaigns and/or execute your strategy with a novel and natural approach.
Sometimes the question isn't an in-house marketing team vs. a marketing agency, instead, the question is which marketing agency can add the most value to what has already been built.
Another service BeNatural Media provides is a custom holistic marketing strategy that can be implemented by your current in-house team.
If you hire a digital marketing agency, it's important that the team you choose can integrate into your brand’s why. They need to understand your vision and your products to continue to connect with your audience or segments.
The Holistic Marketing Agency vs. Non-holistic Agencies
As you’ve considered the pros and cons of hiring in-house staff vs. a holistic marketing agency to grow your brand, you might ask yourself how you’ll know if the marketing agencies you consult with, implement a holistic marketing strategy and why it’s important.
What’s the difference between marketing agencies? Many of the same digital marketing activities listed below will be used by both types, however, the distinction is in your why and how the marketing is engaged.
- Identify your ideal customers
- Know where to reach your audience
- Create the content your crowd wants to consume
- Social Media Marketing
- Calls To Action
- A/B testing
- Paid acquisition
- Email flows and funnels
- Graphic design
- Search Engine Optimization
- Video creation
- How to increase return customer rate, average order value, and conversions
- Relationship Marketing
- Internal Marketing
- Integrated Marketing
- Socially Responsible Marketing
The holistic approach is a concerted effort to build a brand that interacts authentically with its customers and innovates solutions directed at creating value for them.
Some startups have this long-term vision at their inception, while other companies catch the vision as they go. Either way, creating a clear message and reaching the right target market with a sincere commitment to serving them with a stunning experience beyond your high-quality products and/or services requires a holistic strategy that places marketing at the heart of the company.
Learn more about how to grow your business with Holistic Marketing
On the other hand, if you think, “I just need a new website” or “It’s time we start gathering emails”, it’s valuable to consider hiring a holistic marketing consultant because you’ll get long-term perspective built into your new site or campaign, which builds the foundation for success in the future.
A holistic marketing consultant will help you navigate your product or service through a series of questions that help you understand your why, analyze the competition, and put together a winning strategy to gain organic traffic from both search engines and referral sources.
If you aren’t currently satisfied with your brand marketing, hiring a holistic marketing consultant is the single best way to get started. If you already have a Marketing team at work, BeNatural Media can provide their expertise to provide insights into how to improve your existing marketing efforts.
Every company has a different starting point and different objectives. Contact us today for a brand analysis discovery call so we can help identify where you're at and help you get to where you want to be. ∎