You (or your marketing team) is stretched too thin
No one strives to be a one-trick pony. We all want to be, and to work with, multi-faceted performers. While it’s healthy to want to diversify your talents and to hire strong people who can serve the organization in multiple capacities, everyone has limits. We’re not talking about limits on intelligence or capacity for growth. But limits of time, manpower and attention.
We talk about multi-tasking as a skill, but there are plenty of arguments against it. These points show that if you’re trying to split your focus between too many things, it doesn’t lead to great success on any one of them. The more we try to take on at once, the less we’re able to actually give to those projects. Yet, we only have to look at job descriptions for digital marketing roles to see the expectations being placed on single individuals.
We expect one “proficient” individual to plan, manage, execute, measure and repeat strategies across channels like SEO, PPC, affiliates, mobile, email, social media, content, and public relations. No to mention, coordinating internally and externally to push these initiatives from conception to evaluation. It’s exhausting just to think about. If you have one person, or a small team, dedicated to these efforts there’s a solid chance they aren’t really excelling at all of them.
This isn’t to say you can’t find great people who have multi-channel experience or a deep enough understanding of digital to influence strategy in several specialties. It’s also not always feasible to hire people whose only job is to focus on only SEO or PPC or any other digital tactic. Budgets often demand multiple competencies from single individuals. But that makes it possible to overlook the fact that any single channel could be a full time job.
That’s where an agency can come in handy. Many agencies have individuals or teams who are completely devoted to mastering the finer points of one channel. These people have often spent years honing their craft, learning from trial and error, and living through the evolution of their channel. That kind of focus means that you have a better chance of developing more informed campaigns and achieving more impressive results.
When someone wears too many hats, it’s likely none of them fit perfectly. But an agency can provide desperately needed support to internal teams helping them to refine campaigns, or carry part of the load. This allows your staff to focus more on their strong suits and the specific business intelligence that only internal staff can achieve.
You Need Expertise You Don’t Have on Staff
We all like to think we can be good at anything we put our minds to. Some people can. We all have that friend or co-worker who just seems to kill it at whatever they try. If you are, or have one of those people on your team, you’re winning at life. But if, like most of us, you aren’t equally adept with Photoshop and Google Analytics then perhaps you need some assistance.
We showed a tiny sample of job ads that called for marketers with diverse skillsets. But let’s look at the application of those elements in terms of the coordination of a single display ad.
For that one banner ad, we see how all of those specialties must blend seamlessly together. The whole here is a representation of the sum of its parts, but each of the parts must be equally strong in order for it to be effective. For a single person or team within a small business, it’s likely that there will be a weak link somewhere in the production chain.
If you know where that weakness lies, an agency might be the best solution to help fill the gap. If design isn’t a strong suit in your business, an agency can serve a critical function there. This also applies to other marketing components like video production or a trade show presence. It may also be that you have an astute analyst or strategist who isn’t necessarily the best copy writer. Again, agencies often have dedicated writers who spend the bulk of their time helping brands define their brand identity and structure their voice. Whatever your pain point is, sometimes it makes the most sense to look externally to find the expertise you need.
Data and Technology Challenges
We all know that digital is constantly changing. A new platform that will be the future of public relations or a Google update may have launched while you’ve been reading this. Things happen that quickly in this world. There are also constant changes to data acquisition and attribution that allow us to measure more and measure it better. But how is a small team that is already over-tasked and trying to create cohesive campaigns going to stay ahead of the changes and beat the learning curve?
Restricting marketing to only an internal team may result in a silo of data and technology. There is a certain set of key performance indicators (KPIs) that are measured, and that it how success is gauged. A certain set of tools or analytics is employed and that is the only data measured. While this will continue to provide valuable information to drive ongoing strategies, it is unlikely that the tried-and-true will yield revolutionary insights.
One of the functions of an agency is to live on the cutting edge of awareness and adeptness when it comes to data and technology. You’ll often find agencies among the early adopters for new user tracking programs, techniques and omni-channel data integration.
Why is this more common among agencies than companies? Simply put, agencies have no choice. They are in the business of selling a service in an increasingly saturated field. A marketing firm that is not able to learn and effectively apply new sources of data or new reporting or automation tools is not going to be able to remain competitive in their own space. That competition is a benefit to businesses that would rather spend their energies focusing on understanding their best customers than understanding the intricacies of segmenting and structuring lead nurturing sequences in an automation platform.
Agencies are also in a position to help you identify technology and data based solutions for your common problems. With multiple clients, often across different verticals, they have the opportunity to see how things work in a number of different circumstances. They have likely tried a number of solutions and have a sense of the strengths and weaknesses of different strategies and applications. Their successes, and failures, can help save a business from having to overcome those obstacles on their own and build a short cut to the best answer for each brand’s unique marketing challenges.
Using an external marketing partner, if it’s the right company, can fundamentally change your business. We’re not just talking about the bottom line either. Obviously, more customers and more profit are always the ultimate goal, but collaborating with an objective, outside source can give you a brand new perspective on how people beyond your own team see and perceive your product and brand. They can also provide the valuable and versatile resources you need to become the best and most prolific version of your business.