In House vs Agency Partner | JUICE Digital Marketing
How do you decide if an in-house team or agency partner is the right move for your brand? Check out our guide to help you answer.
Whether you’re a startup or a well-established brand, marketing in the online world is an absolute must. Finding the right strategy mix can be a daunting task for even the most savvy business leaders, and having the right supporting team can make or break a brand’s marketing efforts.
So, how do you find the right partner or team for your brand to navigate it all? How do you choose between an in-house team and an agency, and how would you go about choosing the right agency? JUICE breaks it down for you so you can make the right call for your business.
In-House vs. Agency Partnerships: Understanding the Differences
First, let’s explore the key differences between an in-house marketing team and an agency partnership.
An in-house team is a collection of individuals employed by you to work exclusively for your brand. In many cases, brands will have marketing generalists that can “do it all.” This comes with many benefits, such as having more direct control over the day-to-day operations of the team and negotiating compensation. An in-house team might also have a more intimate knowledge of your brand and be singularly focused on your micro and macro business objectives.
The alternative is to hire an agency partner. Agencies offer an external team of individuals with specialized expertise and experience that are dedicated to hitting your business goals. While agencies will typically have a book of business and several clients to attend to, the good ones will always work towards a seamless synergy with your brand, making it feel like an extension of your team. Agencies often come at a lower cost than hiring an in-house team, and you’ll have a built-in package of experts and specialists at your fingertips.
Pros & Cons of
- More control over individual contributors.
- Intimate brand knowledge.
- Singular vision of business goals.
- Team may be more accessible outside of “office hours.”
- Team members may be generalists who will have to wear many hats,which can lead to inefficiencies.
- Costs of employment (compensation, benefits, etc.).
- Building and managing an effective in-house team can be time-consuming and challenging.
- Lack of ad platform representatives unless your brand has a high enough ad spend.
- Dedicated team of experienced specialists in diverse areas.
- Single point of contact for all marketing needs.
- Scalable and Flexible – agencies can support multiple functions at once.
- Built-in access to costly tools & resources.
- Access to ad platform representatives if the agency is reputable.
- Cost-effective alternative to employing a team.
- Goal & growth accountability.
- Stay up-to-date with the most recent marketing best-practices.
- Would not be the only client.
- Access outside of “office hours” may be limited.
- Less control over assigned individual contributors.
What To Look For In A Digital Marketing Agency:
Choosing the right digital marketing agency to partner with your business can be a difficult decision (we know because many of us at JUICE have been there ourselves). You may meet with several that have something unique to offer. Your selection will have a direct, long-term impact on your brand’s success, and it can be a nerve-wracking, and potentially overwhelming experience. Here’s what you may want to consider when evaluating potential agencies:
Expertise and Specialization
Digital marketing evolves rapidly and includes a long list of items your business needs to pay attention to. Because every piece of your marketing puzzle relies on one another – SEO, content marketing, social media, PPC, email marketing, and more – an inability to strategically mix them together could have a ripple effect across your business. The ideal agency, like JUICE, will have specialists in the core areas of your marketing mix, and take an integrated, full-funnel approach to achieving your core objectives.
Another question to ask is what tools and resources do they have access to? Some agencies will invest heavily in resources and supplemental tools (such as feed management, audience segmentation, automation tools, etc.) to ensure the best possible outcomes for its clients. See what solutions might be available for you to benefit from.
You may also want to consider if an agency has worked with brands like yours, what that experience was like, and what it was able to accomplish for those brands. Good agencies have seen it all, and may have specific experience in your vertical that you can benefit from or fresh perspectives you may not have considered. Ask for relevant case studies and the experience of key individual contributors.
Proven Track Record
In addition to understanding your industry, choosing an agency with a proven track record of meeting and exceeding goals that are important to you is crucial. How has this agency tackled lead generation, or scaled consumer product ROAS? An agency’s past performance is a strong indicator of their capabilities, and a reputable agency will have a portfolio of successful campaigns and satisfied clients that will show you how they can help you meet your goals.
The ability to produce strong ad creative is critical to reaching and converting new customers. Many agencies struggle with this, and have inefficient processes for generating creative assets – some even avoid creative work altogether. A winning agency will be one that can be a creative champion for brands, and take a strategic approach that blends performance data and creative expertise. Ask your prospective agencies what creative capabilities they offer – otherwise you may be left with ads that are hindering your efforts and lead to inefficient ad spend.
Transparency and Communication
Effective communication is a critical part of a successful partnership. Look for an agency that is transparent about their processes, reporting, and pricing. They should be open to discussing strategies and progress regularly, and be willing to have honest opinions about what’s working, what strategies need to shift, and what you may want to consider cutting from your strategy.
Project management & cross-team collaboration are frequent challenges for advertising agencies that can create bad client experiences and lead to underperformance. Strong agencies will have processes in place to ensure effective collaboration both internally across disciplines as well as with your brand. Ideally, you want an agency partner that functions as a seamless extension of your team. JUICE, for instance, offers a single integrated client success manager for its clients that creates a stronger bond between brand and agency.
Expertise is great, but what if you need to pivot? Especially for growing brands, pivots can happen quickly. Brands may outgrow tactics, new platforms and features emerge, and consumer behavior can be unpredictable in certain markets. Growing brands need an agency that can pivot with you and find new avenues for growth. With this in mind, highly specialized agencies or in-house team members could potentially be a liability when the need arises to be agile. Good agencies know this, and stay ahead of the curve and have the ability to stay on their toes.
They are Invested in Your Success
Some brands only engage an agency to fill one or two functions, and that’s completely valid. However, a great agency will be a champion for your overall success. They will be invested partners who want only the best for your business, and will be stride for stride with you in helping you achieve your goals. Too many agencies fulfill the bare minimum of the agreement, sticking to surface-level channel metrics but not taking the time to understand the full picture of impact on your business. If an agency isn’t asking the right questions in terms of business objectives and taking an integrated approach, they may not be what you’re looking for.
By following the above guide, you should have a better idea of what to look for and consider when growing your marketing team. At JUICE, we’re happy to address our approach to any of the above points. Feel free to CONTACT US to start a conversation and see if JUICE is a good fit for you and your brand.