As small to mid-sized outdoor companies grow, it becomes tougher to be the CEO wearing all the hats. You feel trapped between your need to grow and the realities of hiring an employee. In the beginning, it was possible to bring in a steady stream of leads and convert them while marketing the company and integrating a strategic direction for the organization. But now, as your outdoor business continues to grow, so does your to-do list.
I went through some of these struggles as I built my marketing agency. As my client list grew, I was stretching myself too thin trying to keep up with their needs while still trying to bring on more clients. I finally hit a point where I had to hire employees to help. While at first it stung seeing my overhead go up, in the long-run, I’ve been able to maintain consistent leads, maintain current client satisfaction, and be able to enjoy dinner with my wife and children every night.
A common question for many outdoor businesses is, “Do I hire an internal marketing team or a marketing agency to attract, convert, close, and delight my growing customer base?” And while we would love for you to hire us, sometimes it makes more sense to build an internal marketing team. Today I want to review the pros and cons of hiring an internal marketing team vs. hire a marketing agency. Every outdoor company is different so take a moment to think about your company’s needs and vision to make the best decision.
Hiring an Internal Marketing Team
- Expertise: An internal marketing team will live and breathe your industry. Or at least that’s the hope. As you search for the perfect hire, you’ll gravitate toward a marketing director who has experience in your industry.
- Speed: Because of their expertise, your internal marketing team can get things done quicker. They also don’t have a list of clients pulling them in different directions so they can buckle down and focus on your projects.
- Accountability: Since the in-house marketing team shares a wall with your office, it’s easy to supervise projects. I’m not saying you’re a micromanager but there’s something to say about walking down the hall and getting an immediate status update on projects.
- Company Insight: Working in the same office as the CEO keeps the marketing team abreast of company goals and culture. They are always “in the know” of what’s happening so they can adjust their strategy to fit the needs of the business.
- Hiring Process: Hiring an internal marketing team can take a lot of time. A lot. Not only will you need a marketing director who has the knowledge and experience to lead a team, you must find a coordinator and/or social media guru and/or graphic designer. The list goes on depending on how deep you want your marketing bench. Once you decide how many people you want to hire, you’ll spend time recruiting, interviewing, and making offers. Once you’ve found the right people, you need to train them and finally, they can start developing a strategy. This could take up to 2 months…and that’s being gracious.
- Employee Issues: Now you’ve found the perfect hire, it’s time to start the hard part. Managing them. Employees call in sick, take vacation time, quit, and sometimes they aren’t the right fit so you have to fire them.
- Cost: According to Glassdoor, the national average salary of a marketing director is $116,000. A marketing coordinator? $47,000. Graphic designer’s national average salary is $48,000. Depending on your market, these salaries could be more or less. Not only do you have salaries to pay but to be competitive, you’ll want to include benefits. On top of all of this, your employees need a workspace, computer(s), software, etc. Hiring an in-house marketing team can add up making it costly.
- Limited Skill Set: Let’s say you hire a marketing director and coordinator to keep costs down. There’s a good chance they won’t be as skilled in graphic or web design meaning you must find an independent contractor or agency to help. Unless your company is able to afford a full-blown internal marketing team, you’ll most likely outsource a lot of work.
Hire a Marketing Agency
- Manage Expectations: A well organized, marketing agency knows how to manage their workloads. Because they are working with several clients, they are able to churn and burn projects and adapt to changes in a marketing plan. It is not in their best interest to stretch themselves too thin if they want repeat clients so they will be very transparent on what they can deliver.
- Wide Skill Set: Marketing agencies need a large talent pool to give clients what they want. Instead of having to work with several independent contractors, an agency can support your business from strategy planning to content creation to web design and more. Depending on your company’s needs and the agency you work with, you can also just “a la carte” services.
- Easy to Cancel Agreement: Unlike an employee, if you’re not happy with the marketing agency it’s easy to end the contract. Sure the ease of canceling a contract depends on the agency but there’s a lot less paperwork to fire an agency. Also, you’re not committed to renewing the agreement each year.
- Creative Ideas: Because an agency is working with a variety of clients and projects, their creative brain is constantly working. They are not immersed in one company’s culture so they can bring fresh ideas and insight to your marketing projects.
- Less Oversight: Once you’ve discussed goals and approved a strategy (which usually happens in the first 30 days), the marketing agency is off to work. The agency is able to work independently and only needs your kiss of approval on certain things, leaving you free to manage your company.
- Disconnect: An agency isn’t immersed in your company culture like an in-house marketing team. It can take a little time for a marketing agency to fully understand the day-to-day needs of your business.
- Response Time: Because you’re not an agency’s only client, it’s harder for them to drop everything for you. First-class agencies thrive in a fast-paced environment with tight deadlines but they still have other clients to take care of.
- Location: If you’ve opted to hire an agency outside of a 60-mile radius, it is difficult to get that behind-the-scenes video to post on Facebook. Or a candid photo for Instagram. It can take more planning to get these moments captured.
Making The Decision
Hiring an internal marketing team or a marketing agency has its pros and cons. Before deciding, it’s important to think about your company’s goal. We would love to work with your outdoor business but our main goal is for your company to thrive. If your business will thrive with an internal marketing department, then start hiring. We’re here to help in any capacity now or in the future.
If you’re not sure what to do, contact us today! We are not in the business of selling you something you don’t need so if it makes little sense, we’ll be transparent.