In the grand scheme of marketing, most organizations are, or eventually become, aware that in order to have any success, you’ll need someone dedicated to doing it. Strategizing. Planning. Executing. Evaluating. Revising. Half-assed marketing efforts work about as well as that label indicates.
So step one is the recognition and realization that it’s time to get a dedicated team to use marketing to further your success. Great job! But that’s the easy part. The more vexing issue is who to hire: an agency, or an internal marketing director?
Over here at Luminus, we believe the most ideal scenario is “both.” The joint benefit of an internal marketing director and an external marketing agency working together is more than the sum of its parts.
Pros of Hiring a Marketing Director
Having someone on the inside is, frankly, a lot more convenient than having to wait and schedule a meeting every time you have an idea or want an update. A marketing director can help field, organize and prioritize all your ideas, comments, feedback, initiatives and goals. They can be strategic about what to act on and when, or how to achieve a specific marketing goal (i.e. we need more people to fill out our contact form, we want to show up higher in search results, etc,). In our ideal scenario, they can then take that organized and prioritized plan to the partnering agency for collaboration and execution.
Familiarity & Focus
An internal marketing director can also become a subject matter expert very swiftly. Because they have a singular focus, their energy is fixed on your organization and learning as much as possible about what, how and why you do what you do. This makes developing strategic marketing initiatives easier, and sets them up for increased success. While a marketing agency will be dividing up their time between clients, an internal marketing director will remain focused on your organization for 35-40 hours a week.
The Value of a Generalist
Often, the best candidates for a marketing director position are people who received their education in marketing and communications and have spent their time working at other internal marketing agencies – or in a strategic or accounts role at an agency. Most marketing directors have limited design and copywriting skills, but understand what goes into various roles within a marketing team. This is what we call a “generalist” (compared to an agency, which has mostly specialists). A marketing generalist can stay focused on the big picture and the overall results without worrying too much about any individual role or aspect. This makes them a great asset to your organization – they can drive the marketing efforts forward without getting stuck in the weeds.
Pros of Working with an Agency
Have you ever walked into a home with large dogs and wondered how the owner can’t smell that? Something similar can happen within your company if ideas are only coming from the people who work there.
Perspective is everything. And when you own or have worked at a company for a long time, yours starts to shift. The more you know about your organization and what it does, the more difficult it is to take an objective look at your image, your messaging, your audience needs, and your visual brand.
Outside perspective is often the single most valuable aspect of hiring a marketing agency.
“We’ve always done it that way” doesn’t exist for a marketing agency. We don’t know how you’ve always done it – so we’ll have only new ideas, or new twists on previous ideas. We’ll also be able to ask questions that challenge what you think you know about your company and your audience, opening you up to a whole new world of opportunities that otherwise may have slipped through the crack of familiarity.
We see your organization and brand much more similarly to how an unfamiliar audience will – and we have the talent and expertise to help you optimize that.
Talent & Experience
An internal marketing director is your best bet to manage your organization’s marketing goals, objectives and budgets. But executing on those projects takes more than a single person. Marketing agencies tend to have a large talent pool to pull from, and a high concentration of talent within the team.
Each member of an agency production team has spent their careers getting very good at their specific role, and collaborating with the others. This includes graphic designers, developers, UI/UX designers, copywriters, digital marketers, marketing strategists, creative directors, content writers, and more. As a result, you get work executed at a significantly higher level of expertise than a marketing generalist (or even a full internal team) can pull off alone. An agency allows you to have a team of specialists at your fingertips without paying 5 or 6 full-time salaries.
Depending on your experience with marketing, you may feel like adding an agency to your roster will cost you more than you can afford. But remember – an agency can offset the cost of 3+ full-time employees and often yields better results.
Agencies are built to work around your budget, so an agency can execute on several complex, strategic projects to propel you forward – or focus on a single initiative. Hiring a marketing agency is a significantly lower financial commitment than hiring additional full-time personnel to cover your marketing needs.
Why They Work Best Together
Single Point of Contact
For reading this far, you are rewarded with an insider tip: our clients have no idea how much time is wasted gathering a kitchen sink of opinions from an ever-changing list of stakeholders.
We’d never tell you to stop getting buy-in from key people in your organization, but what we often see is a collection of varying opinions and no one willing to make final decisions on what feedback we should act on, and what can be left alone.
Do not underestimate the importance of having an experienced person to streamline communication and drive your marketing progress forward.
Just as your agency likely has an account director or executive who serves as your main contact and liaison between you and the production team, an internal marketing director can serve the same purpose within your organization. Which saves everyone time – and time is money.
Unified Vision & Expertise
Similarly, creating something that everyone is happy with can be a tall order. Having an internal advocate for your organization with deep knowledge of marketing principles and best practices is the best way to make sure your agency is able to achieve your goals.
As with most industries, there is a knowledge gap in marketing between those who live in this world and those who don’t. By having someone on your team that lives in the marketing world, you can bridge the gap. They may be able to explain things that your agency isn’t recognizing as a gap, or explain your ideas to an agency in a way that helps us understand your true objective.
By combining expert forces, both sides can better achieve their desired goals.
In short, combining an experienced internal marketing director for vision and strategy with an outside marketing agency for expertise, production and execution (and strategy support), you’re optimizing your marketing efforts for the best possible outcomes. Both sides can focus on what they’re good at and what they know, and that will show in your long-term marketing results.