As the head of marketing for your organization, when you think about all of the initiatives you have on your plate this year; content marketing, demand generation, tradeshows, webinars, paid media, direct mail, public relations (and probably others,) how do you determine what to manage internally and what to outsource to an agency?
As the director of sales here at IMPACT, prospects interested in working with IMPACT would ask my team and I “Why should I hire you vs. doing this in-house?” quite a bit and, in full transparency, we used to spend a lot of time educating them why it made sense to outsource their marketing.
As long as a company had someone internally who could dedicate about 5-8 hours per week owning and managing our relationship, we were happy to accept and manage as much inbound marketing, website development, and paid media work on behalf of our clients as they needed.
However, times have changed.
We’ve changed how we advise clients and prospects on the types of marketing services they outsource.
Before I get to why we’ve changed, let’s talk about the way it used to be.
Give a Man a Fish
Most agencies will take pride in how much work they can offload from your team.
“Not to worry, we’ll do the fishing for you. You can just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.”
Hey, everything about that sounds awesome, right? The more work the agency takes on, the easier your job. But hold that thought.
The agency could follow through on the ‘give a man a fish’ model in a couple of different ways.
1. They’ll could meet with a client once a month to review marketing metrics, which will mostly be comprised of deliverables shipped during that period.
This likely happens without any input or insight from you or your company and then they’ll proceed to showcase reports that show traffic, conversions, leads, keyword rankings, and other metrics.
For some companies, this might seem like a good enough approach because as long as the charts trend up and to the right, you are likely getting your money’s worth, right?
2. They could meet with their client contact once a week, discuss deliverables and content edits, seek approvals, review campaigns, and strategize.
The agency will still handle many of the tactical deliverables with slightly more ownership, involvement, and oversight on the client’s part.
In both of these situations, whether the results are good, bad or indifferent, the agency-client relationship is very much give-give.
Meaning, the client is giving the agency the power to own 100% of the results, while the client just rents the agency’s time.
Any financial expert will tell you that it’s always better to own something than to rent something.
So, let’s get back to what caused IMPACT to change the way we recommend and deliver services.
Teach a Man to Fish
Back before IMPACT and The Sales Lion merged and became one company, each agency, respectively HubSpot certified partners, practiced different business methodologies in their regards to the execution of inbound marketing (i.e. content management, content creation, blog article writing, downloadable assets, video content creation, organic SEO, HubSpot implementation, etc.)
IMPACT was in the “do it for you” business and The Sales Lion practiced the “teach a man to fish" business, more of a consulting model.
Before I continue, I should mention that this primarily applies to content management, content creation, blog article writing, downloadable assets, video content creation, organic SEO and HubSpot implementation - the core drivers of inbound marketing.
Both models worked well and created two separate successful agencies, that delivered great results for their clients, however, what we found once we joined forces is that the clients who saw the most success, like life-altering, business-changing success, were the companies who adapted the teach a man to fish model.
Revenue growth from $30m - $120m from content marketing alone
Traffic and leads doubling every year from 2011- present
750,000 website visits and 8,000 leads every month
Since 2011, 30 million website visits, over 320,000 new contacts, and over 12,000 new customers.
The recipe for success for these clients, and others is that IMPACT didn’t flat-out do the work for them. Rather, we empowered these businesses to invest in their own employees and insource their own content management, content production, and HubSpot implementation so that they could learn to drive their own success and not rely on the expertise of our agency for the long-haul.
The reason we empower our clients to do this is because we believe that no single agency staffer or outsourced writer knows your business better than your own employees. When your employees, salespeople and subject matter experts write content answering the questions your prospects are seeking answers to, businesses close deals faster. We call these types of blog articles, The Big Five. Another reason we empower our clients to do this is because it saves them money, like a boatload of money. When we used to write content for our clients, it would drive up the cost of marketing retainers significantly, easily a few thousand dollars or more a month.
Now this doesn’t just apply to content creation or content management, it also applies to Hubspot implementation. Too many companies waste money by paying their agency to do work inside of HubSpot for them. Sure, you can rely on your agency to give you guidance and strategy on how to leverage HubSpot, but you shouldn’t be paying them to push buttons for you, it simply costs too much. Invest in your own employee’s knowledge of Hubspot, they’ll thank you for it.
The practice of teaching companies how to fish not only saves on their agency costs but also makes them money faster. This makes most agencies nervous and uncomfortable because it reduces the amount their agencies make. Here at IMPACT we’re not afraid of that and our clients appreciate it. If we can help free up your budget to do other things like paid ads, video production or a website redesign, we’re happy to do it because we know it’s the right thing to do and that it gets much better results.
What could you possibly need an agency’s help with if you don’t outsource your content creation and HubSpot implementation to them?
We’ve got a few ideas. If you are curious, keep reading.
What You Should Outsource to a Marketing Agency
There are plenty of services that you shouldn’t be afraid to outsource.
I mean, you’re not superhuman. We all need help from time to time because we can’t specialize in all things digital sales and marketing and every business is different.
Here are some examples of things we find are almost always better outsourced to an agency.
Some companies will have the strategic, design, and development talent in house to tackle a website redesign, but if you’re like most businesses and you don’t, you should absolutely consider outsourcing your website redesign. When done internally, redesigns can take much longer than if an agency managed the project. Most companies add this to their staff’s already full plates and it’s simply not realistic to cost effectively and efficiently redesign in house. Using an agency can also help align stakeholders and ensure the project accomplishes everyone’s objectives. Not to mention, I’ve seen many redesigns gone sideways because the company either tried to build a custom site, not leveraging commonly used platforms like WordPress or HubSpot and after the developer who built the custom code leaves an organization, the website becomes unusable.
Before you do a redesign, read this article about ‘Why Every Website Redesign Needs a Strategy.’ It will save you a lot of time and frustration to ensure you get the website you need to hit your goals. One last note on design, it’s possible that you may not need an entire website redesign. You could just need some help with sales collateral design, a brochure or a tradeshow booth. Agencies can help turn around projects that your internal team just may not have the time to take on. If you have a brand style guide that you can share with an agency, they can pick right up on where your internal designers would have, just as if they’ve been a part of your team from the get-go. Or you may want an agency to create a brand style guide for you along with an initial design project, so that your internal team can then use as a future design guideline.
If you don’t have an in-house videographer to produce effective video content for your company and you need video content produced quickly, outsourced video production can be just what the doctor ordered. It can help you quickly connect with prospects on your website and increase conversions and sales. Sure you could hire someone and do video production in-house, in fact we consult with companies who have in-house videographers, but if you haven’t quite secure the budget for a full-time videographer, you can find an agency to shoot high-quality, effective, video.
With video stats like these, you shouldn’t wait to get started:
70% of consumers say that they have shared a brand’s video. (Wyzowl)
72% of businesses say video has improved their conversion rate. (Wyzowl)
52% of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions. (Invodo)
65% of executives visit the marketer’s website and 39% call a vendor after viewing a video. (Forbes)
Paid Media & Ads
Of all of the hats I see marketers wear, the hat I like to see them wear least is the paid media hat.
It takes a full-blown specialist AKA genius at their paid specialty, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, to generate a positive return on ad spend -- and that’s not because paid media is ineffective. It’s because paid media takes serious skills.
An agency can help you fix problems or get set up properly so that your ads are as effective as possible. I’ve witnessed clients who have tried to manage their own paid media efforts do it all wrong and we end up having to spend hours upon hours fixing pixels issues, reconfiguring or setting up ad managers and negating bad strategies. If you start your paid ad campaigns with an agency, it can net you tens of thousands even hundreds of thousands of dollars more sales. I’ve witnessed this happen.
It’s possible that after your agency gets you on the right track, they can teach you how to manage ongoing campaigns so you don’t end up with monthly management fees as well, but those kinds of transitional projects are a whole different topic, I’ll save for another day.
When it comes to CRM implementation, technical SEO or even product integrations, I always recommend outsourcing to a partner because they have specialized expertise and can get work done efficiently. Here are a few specific technical implementation cases that would warrant hiring and agency partner or consultant.
Let’s say for example:
You have invested in a new CRM and you’ve never used one before. You want to ensure that you set it up properly to match up with the stages of your sales process and you also need to ensure that your team is trained on the tool and that the tool gets adopted and used. In this case you could go it alone, but you may need some strategic guidance from a services arm of the CRM company itself or consulting from a certified partner. Some partners will even help with configuration and set up and employee training.
You invest in HubSpot as a marketing platform but need HubSpot to talk to a third party platform that doesn’t have a native integration. Unless you have a specialized team of developers can connect anything to anything, outsource this project to a certified partner who has done this before.
You notice that your website has a sudden dip in traffic and that your page load time is becoming very slow. It might be time for a Technical SEO check-up. It’s tempting to try and use site speed analyzers to identify problems and then try fix them yourself, I’ve seen it in action and it usually ends up in more problems to fix. So, find yourself a specialist who eats and sleeps Technical SEO, and has demonstrated success in helping companies regain search engine result status and increase conversions as a result of their work. Think of it this way, if you accidentally cut yourself and needed stitches you could also stitch yourself up but it would be horribly painful or you could visit a surgeon to comfortably get you looking and feeling like new again. Doing it yourself would be silly, leave it to an expert.
Effective or Ineffective?
The answer really is, it depends on what you’re trying to accomplish and what your goals are for the future. Certain marketing initiatives will bring you long term success if you learn how to fish for yourself, but other times, you’ll accept the fish and say thanks!
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