In Season 1 of Marketing Rocketfuel, Drew from the marketing agency Escape Plan Marketing, and his colleague Michael discussed the hidden costs associated with business marketing. In Season 2, the conversation begins to shift to making the next steps in marketing your business. You must decide how to move forward with marketing your business. Will you do it yourself, or hire a marketing agency? By knowing the types of marketing agencies and possible red flags, you can determine if you have the right mindset to move forward with using a marketing agency or if you need to do it yourself.

Types of Marketing Agencies

Drew and Michael state that there are several types of marketing agencies. Marketing, particularly for small businesses, can be done by a specialist agency, a product package agency, or a full-service agency. The differences between these types of agencies can be vast.

Marketing Specialists Agencies

There are marketing agencies that will focus on a certain aspect of marketing. These are called specialists. Specialists or specialized agencies may only, for example, focus on marketing for social media outlets like Instagram or TikTok. They may do one or two types of marketing really well. These agencies will then connect you to another agency that is equipped to handle other aspects of marketing for you. A specialized marketer may also not even be an agency, but someone who freelances for several agencies.

Product Package Agencies

Another type of marketing agency is one that sells a product package. Product package agencies are more like software developers. These companies have people on staff who are dedicated to guiding you on how to use that particular product. They may have an app that has multiple marketing components in one app. However, you are locked into the capabilities of that software with little wiggle room for much else..

Full Service Agencies

Full-service marketing agencies by and large have the ability to do most of the things that you need. Generally, they will not need to outsource to another company to complete your marketing. Full-service agencies will have enough connections to make ensure your marketing gets done. A full-service agency should be upfront about what they can’t provide in terms of services and products. It is important to note that a solid full-service agency will be completely transparent about what they have the ability to provide. If they can’t provide it, they will know who to connect you with in order to meet your marketing needs.

Hiring An Agency: Marketing Red Flags

There are a few red flags that you need to be aware of when trying to hire a marketing agency. For starters, Michael says to be leery of anyone who is pushing you through the process. A marketing agency should be leading you, but not pressuring you. A solid marketing agency will guide you and teach you throughout the marketing process. In fact, an agency that is confident in its skill set will not feel threatened if you know and understand what you are paying for.

Another marketing red flag is when an agency leads you to believe that they are a full-service marketing agency and they simply aren’t. They may state that they can handle all aspects of marketing for your business without asking deeply thought-out questions. For example, they will want to know about your business model and your product or service in depth. This type of agency will be very eager to agree to do all of the things you ask, but in reality, deliver very little. Realistically, there are very few agencies that can handle every aspect of your marketing needs.

Maintaining a Healthy Mindset Toward Your Marketing Agency

Therefore, it is extremely important to have a healthy mindset when it comes to marketing your business. Part of having a healthy mindset is knowing that the price you pay for marketing is an investment. If you take the approach that marketing is just an expense, Michael states that you will only see a minimal return. Your expectations will be low and you will view it as a profit drain.

On the contrary, you should view your marketing, particularly your digital marketing through your website, as your biggest asset. Your website will grow in value by having great content, continual updates, proper maintenance, a way to drive traffic to your site, and making adjustments to your audience. Starting with a proper view of marketing will lead you to a like-minded marketing agency.

When you establish a healthy mindset toward marketing, it will also keep you from bouncing from agency to agency. If you don’t establish a relationship with your agency, you will feel burned out. You may never understand why you aren’t making headway with your marketing. Going from agency to agency will prevent you from making serious growth in your digital influence.

Further, part of keeping a healthy mindset is by having measurable and attainable goals that have a clear deadline. Your goals will serve as a baseline to help you continuously reevaluate where you are and where you are headed. This can in turn help you to readjust your goals as necessary.

The Cost of Small Business Marketing

It may be shocking to learn that a reasonable marketing budget should be anywhere from 7-10% of revenues. Keeping in mind that marketing is an investment, that amount of money can move your business to the next level of sales. As your company grows with solid marketing, the return on investment will snowball. The fruits of that investment will be increasingly evident.

When Do I Outsource My Marketing?

When you have a mature marketing team already in place and the right amount of dedicated staff, you probably don’t need to outsource to a marketing agency. Companies that reach over $20 million in sales tend to use in-house employees to focus on marketing. If you need every member of that team every day, then you shouldn’t be outsourcing that work.

On the flip side, if you are just starting out or only have up to 3 employees, or you are on a shoestring budget and can’t spend the 7-8%, don’t hire an agency! This is the time that you need to do your own marketing. You will get plenty of emails to entice you to hire a boxed marketing package: don’t take the bait. Give it your best effort and monitor how your marketing is going. If you treat marketing as a side function, then that is the return you will get and nothing more. Staying focused and keeping your online presence visible will help you to grow your business. Once you have gone to the next level, start carving out 7-8% of your budget to handle your marketing.

Should I Hire a Marketing Director as an Employee?

So why not hire an employee to do my marketing? Because at this point, it will cost you much more to hire the staff you need. The cost of hiring an agency is much more effective. By hiring an agency, you get a full team of people for one price. If you hire out a single marketing director, the median salary in the Charlotte area is $120,000/year. You will also need to pay various taxes and fees to employ this person. Even then, you will still need to outsource some tasks. With all of this, you will wonder where the return on investment is! By hiring a marketing agency, you may spend $10,000/month, but you are getting an entire team versus one person to do all of the work.

What to Look For When Hiring An Agency

When you hire an agency, Drew and Michael have a few recommendations on what to look for in an agency. Some questions to ask are:

  1. Do they have a marketing framework or system that they use?
  2. What is the agency’s plan or strategy? What is their marketing roadmap?
  3. How do they make content?
  4. How will they coach you and give you an unbiased perspective to keep you on track?

Action Tip: Write Down What Your Dream Marketing Team Would Look Like

Put on paper who you would hire for your marketing team and how much that would cost. Make sure to include all of the roles, salaries, equipment, software, taxes, office space, etc. Spoiler: it adds up fast!

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Next Time…

Drew and Michael will sit down and discuss marketing directors. Who is a marketing director? What do they do? What is their role?