“If entrepreneurs can buy digital media, why can’t the brand team on Tide, Dawn and Crest be entrepreneurs and do the same? They can, and they will.” - Mark Pritchard - P&G.
That's easy for you to say, Mark.
These brands are pretty much top-of-the-game already. On the contrary, you get a few ignorant marketers excited to make believe this is their next best shortcut to marketing success.
So what's wrong with your marketing agency?
"Yeah, but you know what? Those agencies are always out and about chillin' instead of working." - Anonymous
It's true, more than a few agencies and media buyers are engaged in unethical practices, half-truths, and unreliable metrics.
But if the reality of big data and algorithms only struck the digital marketer in you right now,
"You ain't doin' your job well enough, son".
Sooner or later, even the CMOs catch on to this...don't they?
In any case, agency or otherwise, it all depends on a company's make-up. The founders, the org culture, the market environment etc., all contribute to the practices learned and implemented.
Running an "in-house" marketing agency ain't no easy business
Pulling campaigns off in-house and maintaining 'the vibe' while doing it is no cake walk. Neither is coordinating a team with a dozen marketing specializations to work with singular purpose.
Just look at the number of new businesses popping up in the Middle East, only to crash and burn.
We've seen companies that took their marketing in-house right from the start. By the time their decision makers and marketing execs got a grip of things, they're pretty much imploding and opening doors for financiers to fuel another injection of 'crisis relief'. This is particularly common with SMEs and Startups, not to rule out B2B biggies as well (because the smaller ones don't do jack).
True agencies dedicate themselves to cracking the code with every algorithm update, just 'cause we can (and we don't give a crap about awards.)
It's all about the relationships
At the end of the day, it's the relationship that decides how much control brands maintain over their agency's activities. And by relationships, we don't mean fancy presentations to dazzle upper-management, gifts aka "ethical bribes", or Happy Hours.
Learning to keep things balanced is an effort that takes time, dedication, knowledge share, limitless support, and a mindset for mutual growth.
A mere 15% agency fee or media commission holds no value in this relationship when your entire marketing budget is peanuts split across geographies, verticals, ad units, languages and so on.
Forget all the jargon for a second. "Common Sense" Marketing comes first.
AND EVEN IF you grow enough to have your own custom-performance monitoring dashboard...
No matter how good your full-time designer, developer, and digital marketing 'superman' are...
You're still at the mercy of the big media houses.
The bottom line is this
You need to hire an agency only if...
The need is specific and it does not make sense to hire someone full time (yet) to fulfill that need because it is a one-time audit;
You have taken a strategy or channel as far as you can and need an expert to work alongside your existing team who are not experts in that channel;
You have the skeleton of a team in place and cannot hire more internally to execute on the strategies you have in place;
You have in-house teams dedicated to that channel but do not have a large backlog and need to determine your future plans for that channel and build out your backlog.
Your HR is incapable of head hunting the right people to fit what's happening within the company already.
Still dead-set on handling everything in-house?
That's totally OK.
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