Think you can’t afford an agency to help you build your brand? Worried you’re not big enough to warrant specialist creative help? Time to think again about what an agency can bring to the table, says Ashgrove Marketing’s Terry van Rhyn

The debate has long raged over the pros and cons surrounding agency marketing versus having an in-house team, but there is far more to consider than first meets the eye.

Frequent arguments against using an agency are based on fears that they will be too costly, they don’t know your business inside out in the same way that a member of staff would or that they may come up with something different to what you’ve tried and tested.

Happily, there are good reasons why you should put these fears aside and consider what an agency can bring to the table – and how, by working together, you can help build a stronger brand and positively impact your bottom line.

Cost

There is a common perception that agencies are expensive. Whilst this might be true if you want to hire a London or New York-based “big name”, there are plenty of agencies that offer cost-effective services at realistic prices.

In fact, using agencies can actually be a bargain compared to the cost of recruiting and retaining in-house marketing staff. Sometimes businesses forget that, for every member of staff hired, there is an associated maintenance cost both in monetary terms and in results. Staff also have expectations related to training and, if you are in charge of a team, you will expect your team to keep up-to-date with all the latest trends.

One issue here is that the skill base required to succeed in marketing is increasing and already companies are struggling to find the right combination of staff to tick every box required for a full service team. Whilst in the short run you may be able to train one member of staff in multiple disciplines, it won’t be long before their work load becomes unmanageable and output starts to suffer.

Agencies take the strain away from trying to source these marketing ‘unicorns’ and will produce results at a fixed cost. As an added bonus, we also have access to the latest technology which we invest in regularly and it is essential for us to keep abreast of the latest developments.

Risk

Marketing, perhaps more than any other business sector, is a slave to the market. When times are good, companies invest more in their marketing but, when things get tough, marketing is often the first thing that is cut from a company’s budget.

Whilst we don’t agree with this approach, the ability to scale an agency is much easier than a permanent member of staff. You don’t lose all the time you have previously invested in interviewing, hiring and sorting work permits, plus the money involved in salaries. You are not left with a much depleted skill set.

When you hire an agency you are hiring a marketing manager, a design team, a digital specialist, writers, event planners and the kitchen sink, and they will only cost you money when you actually need them. They don’t require a full-time salary, benefits or coffee. No risk, all of the reward.

Diversity

The nature of agency work is that we interact with a variety of industries through a number of clients. Our perspective stays fresh because we are constantly having our realities altered through our interaction with new and unique approaches.

We also have a wide team of people we can call on who can each bring a new insight or specialist expertise to solve a problem.

Challenge

A huge part of an agency’s role is understanding who your company is and the story your brand is trying to tell.

We know first impressions are important and, looking from the outside, we can offer an independent opinion on how well your brand is telling that story and where it may need to improve.

We can use our experience and market knowledge to challenge how a business or organisation perceives itself and we can offer an honest interpretation of your marketing reality.

Agency staff are not trying to curry favour with the CEO for a promotion: the integrity of an agency’s work is of paramount importance to their long term survival so you can rely on honesty…even if it isn’t what you want to hear.

Culture

Agencies usually enjoy a much flatter structure and far less red tape than the in-house teams of larger corporate companies or organisations.

Yes, we sometimes wear jeans to work and keep unconventional hours but that freedom just means that when an idea strikes, be it 4:59pm or 2am, we get to work. The work we produce is the result of far fewer restrictions than those imposed by a corporate culture.

From our perspective, the quality of the work we produce is a reflection of who we are. We are never going to cut corners, miss deadlines or deliver a product we aren’t happy with because that work is who we are and who our clients think we are.

Passion

Beyond all of the rational reasons listed above, marketing is simply what we do. It’s what we are passionate about and what we’ve committed our professional lives to.

We approach every task with an integrity and fervour to do our very best and give our clients value for money as we help them build their brands bigger and better.

So, if you’re on the fence about engaging agency help, don’t be fearful: be brave and be confident. A good agency will help you optimise your marketing spend – and your impact – as well as bring a fresh perspective. Something that could be worth far more than you imagine.



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