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Penguin Strategies

Do B2B Marketing Agencies Suck?

Do B2B Marketing Agencies Suck?
25 Jan 2023

Let’s talk B2B Marketing Agencies vs hiring in-house.

I have met many marketers who have told me, ‘It doesn’t matter what, it is always better to hire in-house. In the odd case, you can plug a hole with a freelancer.”

But let’s move past blanket statements. 

In 2023, marketing teams throughout the industry will be required to deliver beyond capacity (hello recession). Oftentimes, a budget will dictate decisions and the B2B Marketing Agency vs in-house debate is nuanced with no one-size-fits-all solution.

I will never say you should always hire an agency, but there is also no way you should NEVER hire an agency.

So how can you maintain quality while meeting 2023 goals?

WHY AGENCIES SUCK

If you already know why agencies suck, skip to the next section.

If you think agencies are amazing, contact us, and let’s get to work.

 

I’ve heard a lot of reasons why agencies suck.

  •  They aren’t reliable and disappear

  • They put seniors in front of me when they sell, but juniors when they execute

  • They don’t understand my business in depth

  • They have a lot of "overhead" that I need to pay for 

And it goes on.

But let’s think for a second: Do in-house marketers also suck?

  • They take ages to onboard

  • They specialize in only one or two marketing skills

  • They quit after you invest in training them for a year

  • They are on TikTok all day long

So some agencies suck, and some marketers suck. But on the flip side, some agencies are awesome and some marketers are awesome! How do you know what’s right for you?

PROS AND CONS: IN-HOUSE VS AGENCY

Let’s assume you already know of an agency that is vetted and reliable (hmmm maybe Penguin Strategies?). You have a budget this year to either engage them or hire a new employee. What do you decide?

We will talk about use cases in another blog, right now let’s talk about parameters. What is most important to you?

Focus & Control - you have control over an in-house employee’s priorities and work time. You can have them focus on campaign ‘x’ in the morning and then 20 minutes later turn around and say, “Drop all that and focus on getting this page live!” 

With an agency, you are one of multiple bosses and can control priorities inside your project, but the decision about your account or another is out of your hands. 

Accessibility - Your in-house marketer can pop in to ask product or R&D subject matter experts questions if they need quick clarifications or support.

An agency employee will likely have more difficulty reaching subject matter experts inside your company unless there is a clear and quick line of communication. 

Capabilities & Expertise - Your new hire who is 100% focused on you will be skilled in one or two marketing fields, possess some knowledge in others, and have minimal to no knowledge in the rest. 

An agency will have a team of specialists in each marketing field available part-time for your needs. You can set up an agreement to include your needed specialties and know that your agency team is always supported by senior marketers who surround them.


Scalability - You’ve been killing it lately. Q1 brought a ton of income thanks to your brilliant campaigns. It’s time to ramp up your marketing activities. Can you start tomorrow? 

An agency has in-house talent to provide for your needs. A single employee cannot. 

Other considerations include:

  • Talent recruitment - Building and maintaining a complete marketing department requires a large investment from you and the HR team.

  • Costs - Employee costs include salary, benefits, and overhead. So make sure to compare total costs when budgeting.

  • Turnover - Employee turnover can result in a period with no solution while you are hiring a replacement. Agency turnover means you will have a new contact at the agency but service will continue throughout.


SO WHAT SHOULD I DO?


So, can a B2B Marketing Agency create a successful start-up growth machine?

Definitely.

Is it right for you?

That depends, every situation is different. A good agency salesperson will help you understand your pain points to see if their services are the right fit for you (inbound sales philosophy).

Besides providing a one-stop shop, an agency can help you test channels, move faster, offset headcount, and create space to build a team amongst many other benefits. 

Agencies like ours are built to provide you with complete marketing services so that you can take advantage of specialists in all marketing domains but pay for a fraction of their time.

An in-house team will do what it’s built for and when your requirements change, you will likely need to hire or outsource to complement the in-house skillset.

Freelancers can always help with spot tasks and provide an external opinion on in-house work, but they will know less about your company and domain.

What should you do? That’s up to you! But you can get some ideas by watching our MeetUp: Marketing During Times of Financial Turbulence. 

Yoni Grysman

Written by Yoni Grysman

Yoni has 10+ years of experience in digital marketing, strategy, and writing, with a specialization in technology and lead generation.

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