With businesses looking to increase their capacity to stay in line with evolving digital trends, many are considering boosting their spending in areas such as PPC, SEO and social media. The question is, how do they expand their resource? Could the increasing trend of using agencies to bolster marketing departments leave businesses with a future skills gap?
The agency touch
Increasingly, businesses look to specialist agencies for support in certain marketing areas. This can have its advantages, as an agency can be brought in on a project basis to help with a particular one-off initiative or on a rolling basis with a monthly retainer. There is normally more flexibility and less commitment involved with agencies as opposed to taking on permanent team members.
With an abundance of digital agencies continually cropping up, a good agency will fight to win your business with innovation and a great pitch. With niche knowledge and a proven track record in delivering successful campaigns for previous clients, an agency can sometimes have the magic touch an organisation needs. What’s questionable is whether a client/agency relationship can ever take the place of a robust in-house marketing team in the longer term.
Should businesses be spending more time and money on developing the talent they need in house and doing much more internally? Or, is it a combination of agency support and in-house resource that’s the winning formula?
Thinking long term
There’s no doubt that agencies can add real value, especially as they’ll have to deliver tangible results and ROI in order to survive as a business. Many companies will feel more confident in using an agency with specialist skills and a proven track record – there may be fewer perceived risks than embarking on a venture unassisted.
For some organisations, digital and social media marketing is fairly unknown territory so it is approached with a certain amount of caution. The thought of an experienced agency leading them through a project and helping to achieve certain deliverables can be appealing, comforting and can instil confidence.
With other clients, it’s more about seeking a quick fix solution, rather than long term planning. They may use an agency to cover short term projects, a temporary shortfall in staff or to bridge a knowledge gap in their team. For organisations not wanting to invest in full time, permanent members of staff – using an agency might be a good option.
However, having all the marketing skills you need in-house and at your fingertips could be worth thinking about in the longer term. Your in-house resource will be focused purely on your brand and in pushing your brand forward on an ongoing basis. Sometimes, clients can feel disgruntled at sharing their agency’s time with other clients and are left feeling as though the agency is perhaps not dedicating enough time to their particular cause. Typically, communication issues are less likely to arise within an in-house environment, as permanent employees will be fully in tune with the brand’s story, messaging and have more access to the business as a whole.
Of course, agency and in-house resource do not need to be mutually exclusive, but if you’re heavily reliant on agencies, it could be worth re-assessing the acquisition and development of your internal talent.