Hiring Outside Expertise Can Make all the Difference
It goes without saying that COVID-19 caused a dramatic shift in consumer behavior. And as a result, people are changing how they engage with brands. More people are working remotely. There’s been a surge in e-commerce. Videoconferencing and social media use are at all-time highs. And even telehealth options are becoming embedded in our healthcare infrastructure. It seems like nearly every facet of our lives has changed.
Marketers know this shift firsthand. Not only are they experiencing the same changes in their personal lives as everyone else, they’re also grappling with what it means to be successful in their field. New trends emerge daily, and as a result, effective, efficient marketing requires in-depth knowledge that’s constantly needing to be refreshed. Marketers should also be well versed in all content channels plus be able to choose and integrate an effective tech stack.
As a result, business marketers are feeling the heat as we found in our attitudinal research study. It unveiled a breadth of insights into the marketing landscape, such as how marketing leaders feel about their organizations’ strategy and success. In today’s blog, we’ll talk about the pressure business marketers face and one of the solutions they’re using to tackle today’s challenges — external agencies.
Measuring Marketing Success
Our last blog shared insights into how organizations evaluate marketing leaders. Organizations look to marketing leaders to impact customer relationships. Check out some interesting findings from our research:
- 63 percent of marketing leaders say their organizations evaluate their efficacy based on how much revenue they bring in from new customers
- 59 percent say the number of new customers they acquire is indicative of their success
- 53 percent say their organizations evaluate them on the return on investment (ROI) of marketing spend
- 31 percent say they need to show their organizations that they’ve reached an acceptable degree of spending below budget
Budget management is a substantial concern for our survey respondents, which showed three distinct attitudinal segments: Accomplished Marketers, Anxious Strugglers and Strategy Believers.
While Anxious Strugglers are less likely than the other two groups to say they’re evaluated on revenue from new customers, all segments say they’re evaluated on the above parameters to some extent. Business marketers across the board are under scrutiny and are expected to reach new heights during extraordinary times. In addition to the challenges shared above, our research highlights a lack of expertise within in-house marketing teams and a high rate of staff turnover within the past six months.
If you don’t have the expertise on your team to deliver a demonstrable ROI and if your team lacks the resources needed to make the most out of your budget, it will be challenging to succeed—like coming in under budget, demonstrating ROI, or engaging new customers.
That’s where an external agency comes in.
At Avocet, our approach has always included being seen as a member of clients’ teams. When marketers find the right partner, especially during challenging times, they can become a partner for life. That kind of reliance—when we are living the brand day in, day out—creates harmony. It allows us to anticipate our clients’ needs versus just being reactionary. It also makes plugging holes so much easier. When a marketing agency and client are in lockstep, you can ride out the tough times together.
Hiring a Marketing Agency Is the Solve
Many organizations look at marketing as an expense rather than an investment. And because marketing ROI is often a long game, it can take a long time to see the results of your efforts. On average it takes up to 26 interactions with a brand before a customer will make a purchasing decision. If you’re just looking at click-through rates in email analytics, you’re not going to see the whole story of the customer journey.
Marketing is much more complex, requiring expertise to convert customers—and keep them returning for more.
External marketing agencies are masters at marketing, and working with one can come with a range of benefits:
- Their entire focus is marketing, so they’ve been able to build substantial expertise and specialization within this field.
- They can access results-driven technology, such as data and analytics platforms and automation software that can embed efficiently in your marketing operations.
- They have built lucrative relationships to help you reach your marketing goals, such as preferred vendors and established partnerships.
- They help determine how to get the most out of your marketing budget because they can tell you what’s worth the time and resources and what’s not.
- They have extensive experience with media buying, including social media ads, and can share that knowledge with your internal marketing team.
You may say you can’t afford to work with a marketing agency. We say you can’t afford not to.
If you’re a business marketer whose organization sees marketing as just another expense, you should consider whether or not you should stay. The truth is, marketing is a revenue generator and should be treated as such. The outdated mindset that it’s an expense means that the organization doesn’t have the right tools in place to measure success, that there is friction between the sales and marketing teams, or that the C-suite is simply using antiquated methodologies that won’t achieve their goals.
Working with a Marketing Agency
A recent study by Bannerflow found a relatively even split between the three primary models of in-house marketing.
- 36 percent of respondents say their in-house team is fully autonomous without assistance from an external marketing agency.
- 33 percent say their in-house team works with a specialized external marketing agency.
- 30 percent embrace a hybrid model with their in-house agency separate from the marketing team plus occasional contract work with external marketing agencies.
Through our own attitudinal research study, we found that:
- 30 percent of respondents say their organizations don’t work with marketing or advertising agencies
- 25 percent work with one agency
- 32 percent work with 2-3 agencies
Our research demonstrates that a substantial portion of business marketers’ organizations do not utilize agency expertise, and those that do work with a small number of agencies.
Of those who say their organizations are not currently working with marketing agencies, about one in two say working with an agency would definitely or probably be beneficial to them—yet 41 percent of them say their organization only might work with an agency in the future.
Of those who are working with agencies already, less than half—41 percent—say they’re using external marketing agencies for strategic guidance. 29 percent say an agency is instrumental in annual marketing planning.
As we’ve mentioned, a strategy-first mindset is essential for marketing success. Strategy guides alignment across your organization. It ensures you’ve buttoned up your competitive advantage and have designed an audience engagement blueprint that reaches the right people at the right time on the right channels.
Ask yourself: If you’re working with an agency, are you getting the most out of that relationship? How many opportunities pass your organization by without external help?
Within many in-house marketing teams, there is a lot of work that is not getting done due to lack of resources, high turnover or inadequate budgets. Bringing in an outside marketing agency and creating that productive, close relationship brings a multitude of resources to the table that will allow the in-house marketing team to get more done. It lets the in-house team do what they do well and brings in the outside expertise that’s lacking.
Define your swim lanes. When everyone is headed in the right direction, that’s when you’ll find true harmony.
To learn more about each segments’ behaviors and the opportunities they present, check out our entire executive summary and webinar. And to further ignite your own marketing strategy, check out our podcast