Agency Is Better Than In House: A Common Sense Approach to Better Results and Lower Costs

Organizations hire an agency for a number of different reasons. Most utilize an agency because they lack the focus or expertise in house and need an expert with the right tools, contacts and experience to deliver – much like hiring an accountant or an attorney. Rarely are those functions contained entirely in house – the expense is simply too high for most small to mid sized organizations. Additionally, you don’t necessarily “need” them all the time. For larger organizations, they typically hire a firm because they may not have the expertise in house to implement a certain program or more likely, they simply don’t have the time, the tools or the focus. While we agree that there are some amazing folks in house, no one knows everything – so having a firm offers opportunities for new ideas, fresh insights and keys to creativity. If you’re considering hiring a firm, but are on the fence, here are some items to consider:

1. Expense

In general, hiring a firm is far less expensive than hiring in house. Think of it intuitively. If you are a small to midsized business, chances are you don’t need to hire someone who’s average annual salary in this area is $60,000 – even entry level is $25K, plus you have to consider computers, software, training, taxes and other overhead. And remember, one person or even two in house won’t be able to handle nor will they have the comparable tools nor the expertise of a good agency. Annual salary overhead of $85,000 will get you significant time AND work product with a good firm. $85,000 in salary gets you exactly that – salary – you’ll still need to purchase “the marketing stuff.”

2. Objectivity

Folks in house often revert back to “company speak” and a fear of speaking out on a variety of leadership issues. Entry level folks, of course, are typically the most challenged by this. Marketing your business and good marketing communications is not an area for ‘yes’ men or women. You need someone who can comfortably and confidently walk you through programs, realistic budgets and concepts designed to increase X. A good agency is there to objectively counsel you on best avenues, based on budgets, to achieve a given objective. There aren’t (at least there shouldn’t be) any politics or ulterior motives. In addition. agency can save you from the barrage of media representatives calling you to advertise in any manner of media for any matter of opportunities. If things are a bit stagnant or stale, it may be a good sign that you could use some objective expertise and creativity.

3. Focus

Perhaps the best reason to choose an agency is the focus they would have on your organization. A good firm would have a team dedicated solely to your business success, and will take the time and focus necessary to achieve stated goals. Many businesses, particularly when they get busy, lose focus on important and core activities – such as getting fresh articles out, setting up events and promotions, and other activities that drive leads. What happens, unfortunately, is that the business stops developing marketing initiatives to service new clients and before you know it, the pipeline has dried up – and when you’re slow again, you find yourself almost starting over. A good program and a good business is constantly looking at and pursuing good opportunities to increase market share, product awareness and brand.

4. Contacts

Agencies have the necessary contacts immediately at their disposal for just about any marketing situation you could think of, and many you haven’t. Those contacts could be good print vendors, sign manufacturers, media contacts or even Elvis impersonators. Instead of running all over town (or surfing all over the web), a good agency is ready and able to contact a colleague with a good story or for a quote on a new project. Why waste your time – chances are your agency already “has a guy.” Remember the adage: It’s all who you know…well, never has that been more true in agency. Now, that doesn’t mean a lousy story will still get placed because I’m friends with the reporter from USAToday, but when we develop that good angle, we’ll know exactly who to contact.

5. Tools

Do you have any idea how much all the tools cost your mechanic so they can properly fix a car? Probably a lot, and if you’ve ever done work around the house, you know that often times “it’s all about having the right tool.” Same is true in public relations and marketing. We have all kinds of nifty things that a good agency invests in to assist us in doing our job – ProfNET, Vocus, Expert Click. And, don’t get me started on the expense of graphic design software. It all costs money – dollars that the agency invests in to do good work for its clientele. Costs that YOU don’t nor shouldn’t have to incur. Creating pieces in Publisher are simply no longer acceptable, and why are you doing those types of things anyway? Having an agency with all the nifty tools streamlines work, increases coverage, offers new creative potential and overall makes things look professional. Agencies are also great at being hip on all the new things available to a client to promote their work, such as podcasting, mobile, social media and literally a host of additional opportunities.
About Rodger Roeser
Roeser is the president of Eisen Marketing Group and the founder of the Public Relations Agency Owners Association. He served as the 2005 president of the Cincinnati Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America and is the founder of the organization’s successful Blacksmith Awards program. He is a board member of the Newport Business Association and a member of the professional development committee of Legacy. A multiple award winning public relations expert, his firm is a designated Emerging 30 Business as one of the fastest growing businesses in Northern Kentucky. Roeser is currently the host and founder of national online radio show “That Marketing Show,” and local online television news magazine “Business Focus.” Roeser is an award winning print and broadcast journalist and former newspaper editor and television and radio news anchor. Roeser sits on numerous boards and philanthropic organizations, and donates his time and services to a host of worthwhile causes.
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