As exhilarating and empowering as running a startup or young business can be, you will inevitably face plenty of challenges in the beginning stages.
There is one expense that many company owners often consider foregoing, and that is investing in marketing. For many startups, it can be tempting to adopt the mindset of “marketing is something I can worry about later.” After all, when sales are still slow and costs are high, business owners have to prioritize expenses. Many choose to perfect their product or service instead of reaching out to new clients.
However, marketing is the only company activity that actively makes you money. It’s what gets you new sales from your target audience. By neglecting marketing for budget purposes, you are postponing your startup’s lift-off and profitability.
Rather than waiving the marketing budget altogether, there are financially viable solutions for your business to benefit from marketing without huge costs. One of those is to hire a marketing agency to help your marketing department bring in revenue.
In-House Marketing vs. Marketing Agency
Once a startup or young business realizes it needs to invest in marketing in order to succeed, it’s faced with two options:
- Employing an in-house marketing team, or
- Hiring a marketing agency.
In our experience, hiring a marketing agency makes the most financial and marketing sense. However, let’s go through all the benefits and drawbacks of each option, and you can decide which one suits your business goals best.
Hiring a Marketing Agency Pros and Cons
Hiring a marketing agency means that you can tap extraordinary talent at an affordable cost.
Marketing Agency Pros
When you hire an agency, you become one of many clients they have. Because of this, you benefit from the agency’s years of experience with many different kinds of brands. They will know the best marketing route for YOUR brand, will discuss with you your needs, and create a marketing strategy that fits your brand and requirements. Think of this as a shortcut to your success.
Other pros include:
- Expertise: This is the most important thing an agency brings to the table. It has talent, it has skills, and it employs a variety of people who each specialize in different aspects of marketing. You will be dealing with experts in their fields. It would take you plenty of time and money to gain this level of experience and expertise. Shouldn’t you be spending these resources doing what you do best—running your business?
- Speed of work: A marketing agency has already established the right processes for each task. It knows how to unfold proven strategies. This lets the agency provide results quickly, with approaches that have been proven to work. An agency is quick to produce results based on its experience with similar projects.
- Cost-effective: Although hiring a marketing agency can feel expensive, in the long run, it is not. What is more cost-effective: bleeding money for years or making a profit in a few months? For the quality of work and the experts you will be hiring, a marketing agency usually comes much cheaper than an in-house marketing team.
- Innovative: Marketing agencies have access to specialized platform providers. Such partnerships offer them better prices and access to technologies and innovation. Marketing agencies also follow their industry closely, since their livelihood depends on being at the forefront of new marketing opportunities. They know the industry standards and are the first to learn of new openings and novel marketing tools, thus letting you leapfrog your competition.
Marketing Agency Cons
- Communication: You will have to communicate via email, phone, or other long-distance methods, rather than just walk down the hallway and poke your head into a colleague’s office. If the marketing agency is not based in the same area as your business, you may still be able to meet in person but will have to schedule meetings well in advance. This distance troubles some business owners.
- Initial costs can seem expensive: The initial cost can appear expensive at first glance, as you may be asked to pay for more marketing services than you feel you need. Of course, trustworthy marketing agencies will tailor their proposal to your actual needs.
- Feeling neglected: A marketing agency has many clients. If you are looking for a team dedicated to only you, you may feel that your marketing agency is not paying your business enough attention. On the other hand, the marketing agency hones its skills with each client they handle—skills they then transfer over to your business.
- Brand familiarity: No one knows your business as well as you. There is a learning curve involved with hiring a marketing agency. They will need to understand your industry and learn your brand culture to apply the appropriate strategies for your business.
- Sensitive data: You may be concerned about sensitive data being in the hands of outsiders. You will be relinquishing control of an aspect of your business, which can create insecurities. This is usually handled through the signing of a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA).
In-House Marketing Pros and Cons
In-house marketing means you hire a team of marketers to run your marketing department. You will be paying them a salary and they will be working for your business only.
In-House Marketing Pros
- Dedication: You have a team of marketing experts dedicated to your business needs. They will be accessible any time of the day and always be available to discuss projects and marketing strategies.
- Networking: Your marketing team will be networking with the rest of your staff, creating synergies and cooperation at all levels. When many people work together, they tend to be more creative and innovative.
- Focus: They will focus 100% on your brand and your business and become highly knowledgeable about your business culture and what your brand stands for. This will help your marketing team create a strategy that truly represents your company.
- Control: You will be in full control of your marketing staff and the results they produce. You will be there to monitor and supervise the team’s efforts.
In-House Marketing Cons
- Expense: Hiring a whole team of marketing experts could increase your budget significantly. In order to have a comprehensive team, you will need—at the very least—a top SEO expert, a content writer, a web designer, and a social media expert. If you include insurance and taxes, this quickly escalates to a much higher cost than simply hiring a marketing agency.
- One-person-does-it-all: If you choose to hire one person for all your marketing work, this person will soon be overwhelmed. It is very hard to find one person with all the marketing skills and talents required. It’s even harder for such a person to fulfill all jobs in a timely fashion. Even worse, they may quit and then you’ll have to train someone new from scratch. Expect delays and rushed work!
- Lack of creativity: We have observed how a marketing team member can become settled in a position. They accept the business culture and follow it without question. However, thinking outside of the box is what makes marketing successful. Being challenged by colleagues and other marketing experts and seeing how other campaigns have worked increases productivity and success.
- Scalability: Running larger projects or expanding into a novel marketing channel could confuse your marketing team. They may lack the availability and know-how to work on a new project or expand their marketing scope.
Startup and Young Business Challenges
Having worked with both new and young businesses, we have come to realize how many hurdles they face.
Startups face competition from established businesses. Additionally, they have budget limitations since they rely on investors, loans, and personal funds until sales start picking up. They must be careful and creative about how they run their marketing campaigns to capture market segments or create a new market in the industry.
Young business owners are also called to do many things at the same time: run the business, organize payroll, improve sales, invoice, and hire and train staff.
Some business owners choose to do a little bit of everything. Unfortunately, while it is possible to do a few things perfectly, it’s impossible to do everything perfectly. When you stretch yourself too thin, tasks pile up and lead to a decrease in the quality of your work as you struggle to work through the backlog. Management and staff lose focus and the business inevitably starts to suffer.
Why Should a Startup Invest in Marketing?
Given all the challenges startups face, why should a startup invest in marketing, to begin with? Perhaps word-of-mouth will work just fine?
Well, it’s simple. A startup should invest in marketing because that’s how you make money! No one can buy your product or service if they don’t know you exist.
Businesses need marketing to differentiate them from their competition and create a branding personality. Marketing helps companies target the audience that wants to buy from them. It creates new leads and generates demand and sales.
While word of mouth alone may work in rare cases, it may take years before your brand starts gaining any traction.
In short, marketing lets you grow your company and turn your startup into an established business.
Choosing the Right Marketing Agency
There are plenty of good marketing agencies out there. The secret of a successful collaboration is to choose the one that fits your needs and business culture.
Your marketing agency should provide you with a detailed, customized plan of their strategy and its implementation and explain what results they will be bringing in. They must also be willing to learn what your business stands for and adjust their strategy to your brand.
The fact that your marketing agency is not located in-house doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be answering your calls or emails. Distance is not an excuse for poor communication. A quality marketing agency will be available and dependable.
As for sensitive data, you can sign a non-disclosure agreement with your agency to make sure your business data and sensitive information are not divulged.