There’s a delicate balance between the DIY approach, bringing on new staff, and hiring an agency to help push a project and the bottom line forward. Understanding this balance is easy in theory, but difficult in actuality. There are some organizations that will never hire an agency. All the work they do has to be in house, no questions asked. Other companies choose to operate lean and work exclusively with agencies and tend to keep a smaller staff. The “right” mix is always subject to interpretation. What’s good for company A, might not work and be completely wrong for company B.
Cost vs. Return
Instead of asking how much hiring an agency or brining on additional staff will cost, ask instead what will the cost be if the decision is made to not make the investment and keep things exactly how they are right now. An investment towards online marketing is meant to improve efficiency in one or multiple areas. An investment towards SEO for example should ultimately end up driving higher amounts of relevant traffic to your site. It’ll cost less if you opt to do all of the SEO work yourself, but you have to ask the difficult question of what type of results am I expecting.
There’s no better example of this than web design. Take a look at a do it yourself site (someone who doesn’t know anything about design), a $500 website, and a $5000 website. The business that opted to go for the low cost option may think they’re saving five grand by doing it themselves, but over a period of time could end up missing out on thousands of dollars worth of business due to poor user experience. The same holds true for search, email, and social marketing.
Hiring an agency is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Be prepared to ask the following questions:
Do I have the staff on hand, in both number and expertise, to address my online marketing needs?
What type of opportunities might we be missing without outside help?
What expectations do we have as far as time of completion and reaching benchmarks is concerned?
Do we have an agreed upon solution for monitoring and collecting analytics data?
What type of software do we need to have in place in order to reach our projected goals?
How much competitive analysis needs to be done? Does our team have those capabilities?
Before choosing to go with or without an agency, commit to asking a lot of questions and be open to a combination of different solutions. The best answer isn’t always the most obvious.