Here we are on the cusp of Q4, and my email is suddenly full of requests to meet with companies eager to outsource their marketing. More often than not, this happens in the wake of staff cutbacks or employees leaving for (seemingly) greener pastures.
Interesting, and shades of 2008-2010...
This time it’s a little different though. I don’t see marketing budgets being pulled back—just staffing. And I’m catching a few hints about what's going on:
It’s hard to hire.
A typical marketing department includes project managers, copywriters, digital strategists, web developers, graphic designers, public relations specialists, video producers...the list keeps going, but you get the picture.
For most companies right now, there are bigger priorities than growing and sustaining this department. (And to be honest, hiring anyone right now is a challenge.) Working with an agency gives companies access to all the diverse skills and special expertise that teams bring to the table — often for less money than it would to take to fill a single full-time position.
Agencies also provide an important continuity of service. There's no worrying about an employee quitting and leaving the company without access to its social media accounts, to cite a common (and frustrating) example.
Inflation is still with us, yet jobs are aplenty, the worker is calling the shots (for the most part), and consumers are still spending. Employers need flexible options in case things go south, and an agency relationship can provide the option of scaling up or down when needed while fulfilling the day-to-day needs on a contract basis.
I’ve been doing this long enough to know the signs and read them, yet this is still the strangest economy—and one that doesn’t exactly conform to what we expect. I also know from first-hand experience that the organizations that cease their marketing rather than pivot have a lot of catching up to do once the economic winds calm down.
Let's say you're ready to grow your external marketing resources. Should you establish an ongoing relationship with an agency partner or use a freelancer to pick up the slack, when needed?
This is a tough one—and we’re biased, of course. But not every company budget can support a full-service agency. And freelance labor can help. No matter which option you chose, here’s what to look for in the person (or team) you want to work with:
1. Longevity: How long have they been doing this?
Too often, companies hire freelancers who go AWOL with their files, or leave them holding the bag—sometimes with contracts for services or software they have no idea how to use. Choose someone who is established in their freelance practice and openly shares files with you. Be leery of signing contracts for software they operate on your behalf without extensive training.
2. Security: How do they store your data?
This may seem like an unimportant detail, but what happens if they have a breach or loss of data? What type of data do they have access to and what are their protocols to keep it safe from hackers? What is their data storage policy?
3. Insurance: Do they have it?
Again, it might not seem to matter, but in rare cases it can. Having business insurance with an Errors and Omissions (E&O) Policy can be important in a worst case scenario.
4. Quality: Let’s see some work!
Spend time looking at their website and the work they have completed for clients. It doesn’t matter as much if they have worked in your industry as it does that they are reliable and produce quality work.
Stressed about staffing? Worried about the continuity of your marketing efforts? Reach out. We’re always up for a candid conversation about the best ways to drive revenue for your business.
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