If you're a marketing or sales executive or even a business owner looking to grow your company's marketing efforts, you probably have a whole range of questions.
What marketing strategies and tactics are making a difference, and how can I support them? What type of support can we actually afford right now? Should we look at hiring a new marketing person, or does it make sense to work with a foodservice marketing agency?
In reality, there are no easy answers to these questions. In terms of tactics, traditional marketing methods will never go away in the foodservice industry. Things like print and tradeshows will always be important, but there are ways to make them more effective. This is the essence of digital marketing in the foodservice equipment and food supply industry.
Budget, on the other hand, is obviously dependent on the overall health of the company and the company's fiscal priorities. If this year requires greater investment in R&D versus marketing, that will likely impact the funds available to hire additional marketing resources. What can you actually afford?
But the last question listed above is worthy of a longer discussion...
Is it better to work with a marketing agency or hire a marketing employee?
What do you expect from someone you hire? Do you need that person to have a certain amount of experience performing a specific task? Does that person need to have paid her dues in the foodservice industry? These are typical resumé-type requirements that should be considered.
When hiring a single person to support your marketing efforts, you condense all of these requirements into a single seat in the office. Now, that can be both good and bad, and here's why.
The good thing about hiring a single person is she will fulfill the requirement of being available, in-house, eight hours a day, five days a week. From Monday through Friday, nine to five, you can expect her to be at her desk, working on assignments you task her.
This is not the case with an agency. Most agencies communicate remotely, and even though they might be quick to respond, they're not down the hall.
The Choice: Do you need someone in house, full time? Or are you comfortable with remote access to your marketing partners on scheduled intervals?
The bad thing about hiring a single person is, no matter how good he is, that's all you get. Just Johnny and what he brings to the table.
With an agency, you can get the expertise of a whole range of people. Maybe one week you meet with someone dedicated to your company's social media efforts, while the next week you're talking with an entirely different person about content creation and the use of video. The next day, you might talk with an expert about aligning sales and marketing and closing the loop to determine the ROI of working with that marketing agency.
Let's say the agency you hire has five people partially dedicated to your company. Each person will likely have varying skill sets with different periods of experience. With an agency, it's not inconceivable to work with more than 50 years of combined experience across five different disciplines, versus working with one mid-level person who has less than 10. If you're a foodservice equipment manufacturer's rep, you know exactly what I'm talking about here because this is a value prop of your own businesses.
The Choice: Does access to a range of experience make up for someone not being in the office every day?
The last factor is really the kicker. You can hire what you can afford to hire. At the end of the day, when you compare the monthly retainer an agency will charge versus the salary of a full time employee, those numbers can be comparable. Let's take a look at the national average.
According to Payscale, the median salary for a marketing manager is just over $60,000. These are the people "within a company who supervise and help create the various advertising or merchandising sales campaigns the business uses to sell itself and its products. A marketing manager can be assigned to a single product, a product line, a brand, or the entire company. The manager typically must incorporate a variety of input from creative, research, advertising, and sales teams."
As a point of comparison, digital marketing agencies are often quoted around those same figures, and in some cases, even less. With an agency, it's possible to secure a team that will help with sales enablement, lead generation, lead nurturing, content creation, social media marketing, email marketing, and more with expert resources dedicated to those disciplines. These services often go beyond and above what a single, in-house hire can provide.
The Choice: How does the annual salary of your ideal candidate compare with the annual retainer of your ideal digital marketing agency? If they are equal, which option brings greater value to your company? If the costs are not equal, is spending the extra money on one going to be worth it? How will you know?