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In-house Stagnation to Agency Innovation

A hitchhiker's guide to reaching for the galaxy

Marketing and brand managers everywhere understand the struggle. You need talent. You have the budget. Should you hire in-house or bring on a creative agency?

IN-HOUSE STAGNATION

In a couple of months, you, the brand manager, will be re-evaluating your marketing plan for the year to come. Being responsible for presenting your small but rapidly growing organization to all external audiences, you really want to get your brand out there, get your message heard and your demand generation pipeline filled. And, of course, your budget isn’t made of spandex. 

What are your options? The first thing that might come to mind is to hire a marketing manager to help you strategize and oversee the year ahead and a couple of marketing coordinators to execute it. A designer would be great too—campaigns can’t always be text. And you really need a front-end developer to build custom landing pages and make website tweaks—things the existing engineers have no time for, being busy with the internal product. Maybe you can even build an app. You start thinking about the engagement curve. In other words, you’re thinking big. 

You write down the benefits of having an in-house team:

At the same time, you remember Amy, a brilliant senior copywriter, who was with the company before you even joined and was so good that when she left to co-found her own startup you couldn’t find anyone else with the same level of expertise to replace her.

And you think of John, whom you hired last year as an SEO specialist. There seemed to be an ocean of SEO optimization to swim through. But six months later, most of the work was done and, as Amy resigned, there just wasn’t enough bandwidth to produce new content. The SEO work dwindled to nil. It was hard to let him go. 

After you tally up the cost of expanding your marketing department once again, you start having seconds thoughts. Luckily, your friend mentions a retainer agency model. 

AGENCY INNOVATION

Traditional thinking says companies hire agencies on a project basis: build a website, an app, design a new brand identity or campaign. In reality, your needs are never quite fulfilled, holistically. You keep moving. You need to engage a variety of specialists at different times. The question to ponder is how do you stay flexible enough accommodate all of those needs within your budget and timeframe? 

Our answer is a retainer-based continuous agency relationship. 

Good branding agencies are versatile, comprised of talented strategists, designers, developers, copywriters—all of whom play crucial roles at various stages of your brand strategy. They’ve helped dozens (sometimes hundreds) of clients and, like athletes, always keep themselves in top shape by researching, testing and implementing new approaches.

Things that an agency can help with:

Making further inquiries about the retainer model, you realize it could cost somewhere between a monthly salary for one full-time marketing coordinator and marketing director, but in return it provides you with the equivalent of a fully equipped team of brand strategists ready to dive into work at any moment. As a pragmatic brand manager, you make the right choice.

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