Agency Vs In-House: A First Hand Perspective

SocialB Digital Marketing Blog Last modified: 26 Oct 2017 by Tom Fleetwood
Digital Strategy

I sat in a meeting recently with the SocialB team, pitching a digital marketing proposal to a potential client. The client was impressed with the services on offer but was honest in revealing that they were considering recruiting someone to work in-house on their digital marketing. The question was put directly to us: “What would you say is the advantage of working with an agency?” My colleagues turned their heads towards me, the new kid on the block at SocialB. Having worked for several years in-house prior to joining the agency, I was best placed to answer the question. Here is an extended version of the answer given to the client, which will hopefully be helpful to anyone facing the same predicament.

Two Heads Is Better Than One

One of the biggest advantages of working with a digital marketing agency is the level of expertise you are gaining access to. When I was working in-house, I lost count of the number of times I came across a problem and was alone in trying to find a solution. If I encounter an issue at SocialB, I’ve got a team of colleagues to ask for help. With the broad knowledge and experience in the team, someone can usually provide a solution and be failing that, we’ll all put our heads together to research the best course of action to take for the client.

Likewise, if someone makes a breakthrough with one client, the success can be shared with the rest of the team to see if they can apply it to their client’s work. This again is a knowledge pool which means that ideas and experiences can be drawn upon from a diverse range of industries. Having a ‘eureka’ moment is never as satisfying if you are the only one in the office who knows what a conversion funnel is in the first place.

It Takes Time

More often than not, I found that even with the best-laid plans, there was never enough time to properly execute all elements of a digital marketing strategy. You may have the ideas and the know-how, but you’ve also got a million other things to do and it’s all too easy for simple tasks to get pushed to the side and never returned to. An agency can help keep you and your strategy on track and stop things getting neglected.

When you are paying for the services of an agency it is important to make sure you have regular contact, something which I believe should work both ways. This communication is how decisions get made and work is completed to deadlines. From an agency perspective, we perform best when we’re furnished with as much detail as possible from client’s who know their businesses inside out. I also know that from a client’s perspective, a lack of communication can make you and wonder exactly what work is being done by an agency.

Extension Of Your Team

It seems like a bit of a cliché but in my experience, the best way to build a successful working relationship with an agency is to view them as an extension of your business. Even if you are currently managing some digital channels in-house, an agency can provide real value to a small team who need a push in the right direction. It should be a collaboration that is working towards one aim, growing your business. At SocialB, our ethos is all about helping our clients to achieve results through digital marketing, going the distance to make sure that happens. That means we work closely with the people in your business, from marketing executives up to managers, directors and decision makers.

Providing More Clout

Digital Marketing may be something that your business knows it should be doing more of but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has the full backing of everyone in the organisation. It can be extremely frustrating trying to get resources and investment for digital channels which may be new to the business and even more difficult to show what value it could bring. This is where an agency can help. An agency has the expertise and knowledge to provide a clear strategy which is focussed around providing your business with a positive return on investment. This comes through monthly reporting which shows a breakdown of your investment and the revenue it has generated. How useful could that be in your next budget review meeting?

Fresh Set Of Eyes

Keeping your digital marketing in-house obviously has some major advantages. As I mentioned above, nobody knows your business better than you and having that knowledge in-house can be really valuable. The danger is that you can be too close to see what’s wrong and what can be done to improve. An agency can provide a fresh set of eyes and see things from a different perspective, one that you may not have even considered. As with a lot of things in life, sometimes you have to take a step back, be critical and honest about what is not working. It’s a lot easier for an agency to do this than someone in-house.

Day In Day Out

I think one of the ultimate advantages of working with an agency is that you can rest assured that we live and breathe digital marketing, it’s what we all do every minute of every day. We look at your analytics and figures daily, weekly and monthly, constantly looking for improvement. Everything is put under the spotlight. Digital marketing is new and it’s always changing. If you don’t work on digital each day, it’s easy to get left behind.

Ultimately, there are benefits to both choices and it is important to find a solution that works for your business. If you do decide to go down the agency route, my main piece of advice would be to make sure that your strategy and objectives are clear from the start – it’s the easiest way to measure success.

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