Hiring a marketing agency: 4 reasons why entrepreneurs shouldn'tNov 23, 2021
You have some traction in your business and you’re ready to grow. You want more leads to drive more sales and you’re thinking about hiring a marketing agency to help you lead the effort.
Chances are, you’re about to waste a lot of time, effort, and money.
There are four reasons that hiring a marketing agency to grow your business is usually a bad idea. (And the one situation that does make sense to outsource your marketing.)
1. Your Marketing Strategy is Your Business Strategy
All the elements of a clear marketing strategy are also the elements of a clear business strategy. Are you clear on your:
Voice of the business
These are all the things that make your business... yours. They separate you from the competition and, frankly, determine whether your business will flourish or fail.
Do you really want to outsource the critical, strategic decisions to a third party that doesn't share your vision or have skin in the game?
Not looking for an agency to do all that stuff? Want an agency that just "runs some ads to generate leads for us"?
Let's address that one real quick...
2. Scalable Marketing Works As A System, Not One-Offs
Marketing strategies work best as part of a whole system, not a standalone item . When marketing is executed in silos, it's inefficient, incomplete, and ineffective.
We recently conducted a sales & marketing audit for a SaaS company that hired a marketing agency to run Facebook ads for them. The reported $214/lead looked great based on the price of their $3,588 annual subscription.
But how many of those leads showed up? How many were qualified? How many bought? How much did they buy? How many remained customers? Or referred new ones?
When we measured the entire revenue cycle, that $214/lead was more like $2,942/sale. And that didn't include cancellations.
It's because of these silo-based approaches to outsourced marketing that most entrepreneurs end up asking, "If this data is true, why in the hell am I still not growing my bottom line?"
Which leads me to the next reason outsourcing growth to a marketing agency is a mistake...
3. You Can't Hold Agencies Accountable Until You Understand Marketing
Outsourcing marketing is most tempting when you don't understand it. A lot of entrepreneurs treat it like going to the doctor: They don't know it as well as someone else, so they hire an expert and trust 'em.
The big difference between doctors and marketers: Marketers don't lose licenses or go to jail if they suck.
And the worst part is, I’ve found far more agencies committing malpractice than ones doing things well.
Marketers need to be held accountable, and until you know what good marketing is, you don’t have the knowledge you need to do that. How do you know if they are blowing the doors off with performance, or completely bullshitting you?
Don't get me wrong, you don't need to go get a marketing degree or become a Chief Marketing Officer to hold an agency accountable. But if you outsource something as critical as marketing without being able to differentiate between terrible, average, and awesome, it puts you at a massive disadvantage to competitors.
That's why programs that teach entrepreneurs what good marketing is, like Technology Marketing Toolkit for IT companies, SaaS Academy for B2B SaaS companies, or our own Repeatable Revenue for solopreneurs, are so effective.
But you don’t have time to learn marketing from the ground up. We get that. Which brings me to my last point…
4. You’re Probably Underestimating The Investment of Time & Money of Outsourced Marketing
Marketing is a substantial part of the business, and you should run from any agency that implies it isn’t.
The cost of switching is almost always underestimated by optimistic entrepreneurs that want to see results quickly.
But when the digital ink on contracts dry, you’ll quickly learn about all the work that goes into getting a marketing agency up to speed.
They’ll likely need to review the:
Value of customers
Social media channels
And a lot more…
Meanwhile, you start stroking checks on day one.
It’s not uncommon to see months of evaluation go into the onboarding process.
All the while you’re wondering if this blog post you’re reading right now was right and if you’ll see any ROI at all.
So when does it make sense to outsource marketing?
Outsource Execution, Not Strategy
The time to hire a marketing agency is when you’ve made key strategic decisions about the marketing strategy, clearly understand your needs, and need help executing the plan.
As counterintuitive as it may seem, only once you:
Have a well-defined target audience,
Know where they are and how to reach them,
Clearly understand the pains they have,
Can articulate how you address those pains,
Understand what messaging will resonate ,
And have a clear vision on how your business should be positioned in the market…
…is when it’s actually time to hire a specialized agency to help execute on the strategy.
Hiring an agency prior to that almost certainly results in lighter pockets, lost time, and getting back to where you started - if you’re lucky.
What Should Entrepreneurs Do That Don’t Have The Foundation In Place?
When I beat up on marketing agencies, I’m often asked, “So what IS the answer if not outsourcing to an agency?”
Great question. And candidly, THAT is the right question to be asking.
If you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs and don’t know how to create a marketing strategy from the ground up, I recommend getting help with that specifically.
One way to do that is by joining a reputable program that has the content to help you learn marketing principles and the coaching to help you apply them.
You can also check out our 360° Audit, which is a customized audit of your business’ sales and marketing systems to learn what’s working, what isn’t, and exactly what you need to do to hit the goals you have in mind. The 360° Audit gives you an objective look at where your biggest opportunities are and a clear roadmap on what to address right now.
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