It’s no secret - we’re big believers that, for most growing brands, it makes more sense to outsource marketing to an agency or consultancy than hire in-house. Generally speaking, working with an agency gives brands more flexibility, diversity of thought and value.
But what, specifically, makes agencies more powerful and agile than in-house teams? Agencies are far more capable of identifying and staying ahead of new trends, techniques and technologies - for a variety of reasons.
To begin with, they can afford enterprise-level tools and have access to resources that are prohibitively costly to individual businesses, and have the chops to use them to their full potential. They also have exclusive and/or early access to preferential features and premium support from major platform partners. Perhaps most critical, they can tap into the knowledge nexus of their experts and a substantially larger data set from working with a larger number of clients.
Here’s how agencies take advantage of tools and resources, partnerships and shared knowledge:
Agencies use a variety of tools and resources - some company-wide, like eMarketer for consumer insights and transformations in the marketing landscape, and some channel-specific, like Mailcharts for competitive email marketing analysis.
Other tools and resources include those for business intelligence, keyword research to find SEO opportunities, competitive traffic analysis, customer persona development, social listening - the list goes on.
But simply being able to afford the most robust features of each of these platforms (which gets pricey quite fast) wouldn’t be much of a calling card. Agencies have much deeper experience implementing these features across a broad spectrum of challenges and goals, whether they’re prohibitively priced or completely free.
Think about it - if agencies aren’t getting the most from the platforms they use, they’ll take their business elsewhere. It’s in the platforms’ interest to maximize their value to agencies.
That’s why agencies often receive credits or access to beta test new features and products. Not only does this mean they can learn how to most effectively put these features to use long before in-house teams even catch wind of the update, but they also get to influence product development by providing feedback to shape the features to their benefit. That’s something in-house teams can only dream of.
Additionally, with dedicated account managers and points-of-contact, agencies receive white-glove support unavailable to individual brands, entailing around-the-clock communication with speedy resolutions to issues.
Many platforms also provide regular training to their agency partners to ensure they’re getting maximum functionality.
Knowledge sharing is perhaps the most important catalyst to an agency’s ability to innovate. The fact is, five specialists collaborating in a room will always outperform one genius - and with dozens (or even hundreds) of experts under one roof… you do the math.
Simple organizational advantages like regular team meetings and brainstorms - where team members share industry news, insights from client campaigns, results from testing new platforms and ideas on how to use those insights across other strategies - result in exponential effects on the speed and scale at which agencies can verify and implement the next big thing.
Peer reviews create an additional layer of innovation and quality assurance. Often, in-house teams only have a single specialist for each channel (or worse, a jack of all trades to handle everything) without an experienced peer or manager to provide a different perspective or fresh eyes for quality control.
Agencies have the means to access and utilize a multitude of powerful, enterprise-level platforms to quickly discover and implement new insights. They capitalize on strong partner relationships to test and shape new features, get help quickly and maximize the value of the platforms they use. Most importantly, they leverage the network effect of shared knowledge, combined brainpower and complementary perspective to accelerate innovation.
It’s this combination that lets agencies stay on the bleeding edge of tools and technologies while many in-house teams develop tunnel vision.
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Erik Huberman is the founder and CEO of Hawke Media, and a digital marketing thought leader. Erik has earned prestigious honors and awards, including Forbes “30 Under 30”, Inc. Magazine’s “Top 25 Marketing Influencers”, and Influencive’s “Top Influencive Influencers of 2017”.