Marketing is and always will be about managing relationships.
In the Digital Age bringing in new customers for your business means new challenges, opportunities & maybe bringing on new staff.
In order to get the word out & shout from the rooftops about how you are here to change the world, you're going to need to invest in marketing.
But, what does that mean? Where do you even start? How much is that going to cost? Is there a 1 size fits all approach?
Before we answer any of those questions, you as the business owner need to acknowledge this absolute fact.
It’s 2020 and marketing mediums have made leaps & bounds from flyers on a telephone pole or costly billboards & magazine cutouts.
Today, we’re overflowing with new options in the digital landscape and business models made to promote all kinds of businesses.
A debate that is not being had enough is whether to hire an In-House Marketer or outsource using a SMMA?
You might be asking... What's the difference?
When it comes to delivering your company message, your relationship to the messenger needs to be a top priority in order to dominate the market.
The difference between the professional (In-House Marketer) & the service (SMMA) are worlds apart and could be your best or worst option depending on how you do business & communicate with your staff and/or partners.
Let's get to the bottom pf this and succinctly breaking down the defining qualities of both Mediums and where they shine or drag.
First, who is the In-House marketer & What is a SMMA?
Since this position was here long before SMMA's came around, let's look at the In-House Marketer, what do they do?
This is an employee that primarily works for your company, is 100% available for your business and has been trained to operate according to your business values, systems & procedures.
Usually the In-House Marketer works out of your company offices with direct access to you along with other in-house departments like sales, service & fulfillment, etc.
In many cases there is a team of In-House Marketers that fulfill different areas of marketing.
Some may specialize in a certain niche or marketing role like an Senior Media Buyer and some may have general knowledge and fill more of a supporting role.
Either way they are trained to work according to company SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures).
Now, what does SMMA even mean and why should I care?
It is a simple abbreviation for Social Media Marketing Agency.
Just like a traditional marketing agency, the agency is NOT your employee rather a business partner who’s role is to free you and your staff of the burden that comes with developing, managing and deploying Social Media Marketing strategies & campaigns.
Every agency is different but is always comprised of team members assigned to specific roles & responsibilities. Media Buyer, Sales, Copy & Creative, etc.
Typically an SMMA is designed to be a virtually hands off service with team members that work remotely and if the job is done right, review a full report of their KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) on periodically scheduled virtual meetings. (ex. Zoom or Skype)
Many SMMA’s also offer In-House Consulting, in which case a Team Member is brought on sight where you and your team have direct access to pick their brains.
So tell me what they're good at and why they seem to arch enemies?
In House Marketing positions have been around for this long for a reason, right?
When you have an In-house marketing team the osmosis effect can be beneficial in understanding your product or service from the ground up when creating ads.
Direct access to other departments can make for a great sense of team, influence the quality of work being done & likeliness for campaigns to stay consistent with the brand.
Upon hiring you have the ability to train your employee from the ground up or hire based on experience to fill a specific gap in an existing team.
Once your team is set up and you’ve laid a solid foundation, getting new campaigns off the ground should be streamlined due to a consistently up to date audience profile.
This means that during hiring process you are looking to take on this individual for the long haul as integrating a new piece of this puzzle take immense time and focus.
Now, the SMMA comes with a whole new set of rules.
Because you are working with a team that has niched down rather than an individual(s) who is multifaceted, you are getting multiple prospectives that were designed to compliment during every step of the process.
In other words, you’re adopting a hive mind that specializes in getting the most out of your social media ads.
Any time, Any place...
Keep in mind that you're bringing in an agency with their own systems & procedures to streamline their work that has been tested & proven, time & time again.
So naturally, you do give up a bit of control but this is to relieve yourself of the stress that comes wth overseeing your own team.
Since SMMA’s have the ability to work with multiple clients simultaneously, you can expect their depth of knowledge in the field to be much more vast and up to date with current marketing trends.
Quick decisions based on what works for who are made faster than someone who only knows what works for you and maybe your closest competition.
This kind of macro view allows good agencies to rapidly set up an effective marketing infrastructure specific to your business.
This cuts down time for testing & market research and works great for launching new products, periods of rebranding & standing out from your competition.
Lastly, SMMA’s provide ‘For Hire’ services…
If you decide to part ways after the initial agreement or continue your partnership as needed, you are able to do so depending on the individual terms agreed upon.
SO, THE BUSINESS MODEL IS VASTLY DIFFERENT BUT, WHAT'S THE COST TO BE THE BOSS?
Now that you get the gist of what puts each of these mediums in their own class, let’s get down to the brass tax.
Proper marketing skills are not cheap but need to be looked at as an investment rather than an expense since the job literally is, to generate sales & leads.
In order to give a fair assessment we will comparing the SMMA’s retainer to the role & salary of a Social Media Marketing & Communications Manager since they both hold similar responsibilities.
-Organize Marketing Strategies to leverage Social Media Outlets
-Develop & Maintain digital content that generates interest & attention
-Utilize established relationships in the online community
-Ensures project milestones/goals are met at approved budgets
-Manage a team’s day to day operations & performance
According to Salary.com the median annual salary for an In-House Social Media Marketing & Communications Manager ranges from $77k - $155K.
This does not include the cost of physical office space, supplies, computers & software, healthcare or any possible liabilities.
If this position is filled at Full-Time, that probably means you have a team working under them with additional salary’s, office space, etc. which will cost you a pretty penny.
In exchange you have full control & can oversee the whole marketing process in whichever way you like.
Alright, this answer requires us to go a bit more in depth.
Most, if not all Agencies charge a monthly retainer. At Bout It Co. we have a 3 month, $1k/mo minimum which we feel is standard but some would say is generous.
The monthly retainer can range from $1k/mo. to upwards of $10K+/mo depending on your customers LTV (Lifetime Value) & volume of your business.
This is calculated based off numbers your company is currently producing and will reveal your earning potential with the agency, which shows us what your appropriate monthly retainer would be for your business.
This ensures that you’re never in the red due to an exorbitant service fee and that we price our services respectfully.
(Pro Tip: If an agency gives you a quote but no clear cut reason or formula for how they arrived at that number BEWARE, better yet... RUN! Seriously if they can't justify their price tag, what else are they leaving up to chance?)
Speak With a Team Member to find out what your Customer LTV is Today!
Though this may be more price efficient, remember that you are working with an agency that has their own systems, procedures, workspace, software & team members that you don’t manage.
They report back to you and troubleshoot any issues without your supervision (which is kind of the beauty of outsourcing).
This is a plug & play option designed for speed & efficiency. If control and micromanaging every step of the process is something that makes you feel secure, this might not be the best option for you or the agency.
WHICH IS YOUR MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN?
All of this wonderful and eye opening information is here to help you decide which of these professional service is the Undisputed Marketing CHAMPION !!!
Well, put the Michael Buffer Voice away because I can confidently tell you that neither of these options holds the Golden Ticket.
I say this because every business is different, with different needs, resources, budgets & capabilities which makes the superior option is 100% percent dependent on the nuances that determine what is best for YOU.
You must have been waiting for me to give you the short & clearcut answer...
Don't be disappointed, let's instead break down which is the best fit for who.
If you want complete control and have the money to invest in a marketing team & offices with the time to develop procedures that are 100% in line wth your brand, a long term investment in an In-House Marketer or team is more likely what you're looking for.
When you’re building from the ground up it can be nice having someone (or a team) present to grow with your business and ensure they have access to you and the rest of the team at all times.
If you are looking to be more hands off & cost effective but hitting the ground running with current industry & marketing knowledge that makes the most out of a product launch or business and have more time on your clock to focus on other tasks, the SMMA is by far the obvious choice for you.
If you are confident in allocating tasks, trust the people you bring into power and want to buy more time for yourself to work on multiple areas of your life, this option was bread out of the efficiencies that todays technologies were made for to do just that.
Bringing in an SMMA is just doing that at Scale.
BUT WHAT IF I ALREADY HAVE A TEAM IN PLACE?
In some cases we see a mix of both In-House Marketing AND SMMA which tells us that you're operating at a very high level.
When a larger company already has a marketing team in place that is well versed in more traditional methods of marketing but doesn't have the time to hire & train a Social Media team, it’s common for them to outsource that responsibility to an SMMA that already knows how to shift gears.
If you're looking to train and utilize your existing team, some agencies offer Consulting Services with a Team member from their Agency.
With this, you get an in person experience as they revamp your systems and set your team up with proper procedures to manage ads on digital platforms like Facebook/Instagram, YouTube, Google, Etc.
So there IS a way to get the best of both worlds.
Hopefully, today we cleared up your view of what an SMMA is and how different it can be for your business than a traditional marketing professional on staff.
It's quite clear that this new wave of boutique marketing agencies are much more agile by nature but there are still a few details to consider before moving forward on the right marketing choice for you.
Finding the right agency or employee is a process and should be carefully considered based off of what you need and what they are able to provide.
For example, Bout It Co. is a boutique agency focused on E-commerce businesses in the Health & Fitness Industry.
We are personally & professionally invested in this market, know the lingo and are passionate about all angles of this industry so this is what we do and do well.
We are NOT Real Estate buffs so if you are a real estate company looking to generate leads we might not be the best option to run advertisements for an industry we are not versed in, just as you wouldn't hire a Content Marketer to be an Ad Account Manager.
If not, with careful consideration we will point you in the right direction of another agency or marketing method that would best suit your business.