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If you really want your small business to take off, an effective marketing program is a must to create awareness and generate sales leads. But what type of marketing should you do – and do you have the time, skills and budget to do it?

Inevitably, most small to medium-sized businesses come to that intersection where they need to make a decision. Do they outsource marketing to an agency, or hire in-house?

Here’s a checklist of things to consider as you make the right decision for your business: 

  1. COST – Hiring an employee to do marketing comes with additional, often hidden costs like pensions, perks, holidays, training and management time. In most cases an agency will be less expensive and offer less commitment.
  2. SKILL SETS – Modern digital marketing methods require a variety of unique skills: graphic design, analytics, social media, website coding, SEO, designing email campaigns, content creation, video and more. This sophisticated blend of talents is often difficult to find in a single person.
  3. BUDGET FLEXIBILITY – Marketing agencies allow you to scale your marketing spend up or down depending on your needs. In many cases, hiring a marketing agency can be like buying flowers. If you tell them how much you want to spend, they can usually create a product or experience that will work within your budget. On the other hand, adding an employee to the payroll may not allow you to scale your marketing spend up or down as easily.
  4. OUTSIDE PERSPECTIVE – Sometimes we are limited to what we know, or we know too much about our products and services and have a difficult time creating a simple message that will resonate with the target customer. Depending on how creative your new marketing hire is, you may benefit from an outside perspective and best practices used by “like” businesses to maximize the ROI on your marketing spend.
  5. FOCUS – Some companies try to get around hiring in-house marketers, social media personnel, content writers and SEO experts by asking their employees to add marketing tasks to their daily routine. While some people will rise to the challenge, most of the time, the distraction of marketing activities ends up costing the business more than they saved in lost productivity. Unless employees really enjoy marketing tasks, the end result is often equal to their level of commitment.
  6. MARKETING STRATEGY – Navigating through the plethora of marketing options today can be overwhelming. This is why most marketing efforts should begin with a solid strategy that will require a good understanding of the anticipated ROI achievable through “old school” vs new school digital methods. Again, depending on the talent you have in house, sometimes it’s a good idea to engage a marketing professional to help you with your plan before you decide how to best execute.

In general, the best agency for your business will understand your unique industry, what you’re trying to accomplish and be able to support your marketing objectives within a defined budget. With few exceptions, the perceived high cost of hiring a marketing agency can be quickly justified by an internal salary or the funds allocated to an unsuccessful campaign. This is why more and more organizations are leveraging affordable outside expertise so they can maximize their marketing results and spend their time running their business!