The Pork and Digital guide to In-house or Agency Markers.

You Decide! !

If you find yourself here at The Pork and Digital guide, you have decided to tackle your companies marketing. You are at least contemplating your way through the treacherous path of digital channels. Or maybe you’re a marketing manager currently at stress point trying to juggle the companies already vast needs. The first question that usually pops up is something along the lines of “Where the f*%k do I start?”. Or, once we have composed ourselves; Should I hire in and develop full-time employees to focus the complex digital delivery of my marketing strategy. Should I seek out an agency to help?
First thing to state is there is no right or wrong answer, the answer depends on you. Your business, goals, budget, and ultimately how much time you’re willing to invest.

THE QUESTION USUALLY TURNS TO SOMETHING LIKE:

Should we hire, train and develop full-time employees, or do we actually need help from an agency? The Pork and Digital guide can help!

Let’s take some time to weigh up the pros and cons together sure, but let’s be honest! You may have noticed we’re slightly biased on this topic. We wouldn’t be working at a specialist agency if we didn’t believe in the value it brings to our clients. Marry that with the benefit of industry knowledge means we can hit the ground running (Sorry, shameless plug and I promise to keep this generic!).

We get it, Yes, shifting to an agency can feel like a risk, there has to be an element of trust. What’s just as risky, though? Not understanding the strains of hiring and developing in-house or not being prepared to work with an agency.
We aim to help with that stuff here in this the Pork and Digital guide, or if you want, get in touch here!

1: Specialisms

There’s a plethora of intricate factors to consider when comparing the expertise of in-house marketers to that of your agency, if we cut through the bullshit, it hinges greatly on the experience of the individuals. Usually, however, there are a few differentiating aspects to be aware of, care of the Pork and Digital guide…

Services

Of course, the marketers you hire on staff will have a set number of skills and services they can bring to your organisation, that’s why you hired them! If you hire a graphic designer, you wouldn’t expect them to write copy, right?? (I hope not)—you’d need to hire a content marketer for that. The days of the marketing unicorn is well and truly done! Scaling your in-house team quickly for a new product release or marketing campaign is difficult because your ideas are bound by your teams collective or individual specialties.

With an agency, on the other hand, ideas can grow, and strategic direction set without limits based on a team’s knowledge and proficiencies. Another factor, when working through a problem with an agency is you gain its collective wisdom. Agencies have not only encountered a wide range of problems, scenarios and challenges, but also have tried, tested and experimented with an assortment of tactical and channel specific solutions and may have specialist eyes for many missed marketing opportunities.

Winner: Agency

 

Brand and Industry Knowledge

Nobody understands your business better than your own people. Although agencies can well be industry trained, the complexities of your product and your own particular USPs, history, vision, goals, and competitors are just that, yours. Your people live it every day and what agencies are able provide in a perspective that is outside, they do, of course, lack in background knowledge. Your internal staff will always have more immediate access to in-house experts and in turn can produce more in-depth, technical, and trustworthy content.

Winner: In-house team

Perspective

The Pork and Digital guide knows it’s no secret that many brands end up producing content that feels overly promotional. The problem is, they have tunnel vision. Sometimes a problem with in-house marketers can be their struggle to take a step back and think objectively about their own brand. That makes it really difficult to truly get in the heads of their prospective audience. The result, which we see WAY too often, is content that speaks to the company’s goals and not to the needs of the audience. A good specialist digital agency can provide outside perspective on the content interests of your target audience and won’t be influenced by internal biases that could ultimately affect strategic direction.

Winner: Agency

Trends

A digital agency will only devote a portion of the time that a full-time staffer can dedicate each month, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing though as the time it does spend is focused, amplified and littered with best practice. Agencies have on going, first-hand knowledge of marketing trends that extends to their entire client list. While on-staff marketers can only ever bring their personal comprehension and experience. That can’t match the insight agencies provide after spending thousands of man-hours testing new channels, techniques, and concepts.

What about training for in-house teams? It’s no secret that it is notoriously difficult for in house marketers to get that time away to go and learn about Googles latest algorithms affecting SEO or Facebooks new business page update. It’s in the interests of an agency to make sure its staff are ahead of current trends. That can be leveraged by you for your latest campaign!

Winner: Agency

2: Competence

How quickly can work be turned around? How long does it take to get an email answered? What about quickly scaling for an event, emergency or time sensitive opportunity—how quickly can your team respond, and what processes are in place? This is of course another great metric to test a successful function in the Pork and Digital guide!

Process

An agency must use clear end-to-end processes as the basis for every relationship. They keep projects on schedule, reduce cost, time, spend, and help motivate creative minds. That innovative content doesn’t write itself! Process provides structure; from planning to execution. A systematic approach to ensure strategic decision-making and helps avoid missed opportunities and ultimately deadlines. Although internal marketing teams can certainly develop and refine their own processes, they often rely on priorities and other departments (ever worked along with an engineering team??) that can compromise approach.

Winner: Agency

Accessibility

Timely communications and turnarounds are the cornerstone to a marketing campaign’s success. With in-house idea sharing, you can meet and exchange thoughts and questions on a whim rather than compete with conflicting schedules and timelines. We as agencies do try and collaborate with the client often, but really, it’s never as efficient as running down the hall. Sometimes, phone and email tag with an agency can slow things down significantly.

Winner: In-house team

 

Drive

The daily grind is real. It can become easy to lose sight of strategy and what matters most to your customers. Office politics, role conflict, poor management, job demands, lack of support and feedback are all very real factors leading to In-house staff suffering with their mental health. The result; burned-out, inefficient, and cynical staff. We have all seen it!  When you’re marketing through an agency, the people aren’t important, just the outcome. Agencies have large pools of staff to draw motivated creatives from. These staff are constantly mentored and guided to reduce stress and promote a healthy work-life balance along with career development. Shit, we even have a pool table.

Winner: Agency

 

3: The Bottom Line!

OK, we’ve danced around the issues important to you CEO, MD and budget focused characters long enough—let’s talk about how much it’s going to cost, and which will provide a better ROI in the long run.

Flexibility

How much does it cost to recruit marketers these days? There’s the recruitment, salary, benefits, software licenses, support and training. Then there is always a risk the employees won’t work out (or take themselves off to your competitor!), and then you’re back to where you started! Agency pricing, on the other hand, typically falls under one of three models: monthly retainer, price per project, or price per hour. This model allows businesses greater flexibility in their marketing spend and allows you to determine the precise level of support and services you require to the pennies (or cents).

Winner: Agency

 

Scale

In-house teams are typically fixed and incapable of scaling for a company’s growing demands. To be effective, the marketing function needs to be able to ramp up quickly to meet customer/business demands. Now think of a time you had a show/event/campaign that needed more hands than you had with an agency it’s as easy as increasing your monthly hours with an agency—to have to recruit, train and commission new staff only to find out when the rush is over, they aren’t really needed. Oh dear.

Winner: Agency

 

Here we are at the end of The Pork and Digital guide. The reality is, this isn’t an “agency or done” situation. There’s no universal solution to the digital delivery of your marketing strategy, and every business is, of course, unique. There are plenty of companies who allow their in-house and agency teams to collaborate, outsourcing certain tasks while keeping others internal. The goal of any agency is to transcend the ‘Client – Agency’ dynamic and become a single, integrated, team working towards a unified vision.

Food for thought.

Ciaran.