If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re a financial firm considering whether to partner with a marketing agency specialising in financial services, or to employ an in-house marketer.
Which one is cheaper, and which one carries more risk? Which option can deliver more results?
Are the two options even mutually exclusive? Are there ways to combine the two?
This is of particular interest to smaller businesses such as financial adviser and planners, who tend to have a dedicated marketing budget which can often only really account for one of the two options. If you are in that position, then this article is for you.
Marketing Agencies: Pros & Cons
A marketing agency will typically comprise two or more people, who devote their time and energy towards marketing for their clients. Here at MarketingAdviser, for instance, we are a relatively small team which specialises in digital marketing for financial advisers and planners.
There are many clear benefits to working with an external agency, which we will outline here before turning to the potential drawbacks:
- Specialisation. Certainly, it is true that not all agencies will serve a particular niche, but many do (e.g. ourselves!). This gives financial firms, in particular, a real source of value. After all, marketing is not easy under most circumstances, so it really does pay to have a partner who understands your clients, business model and industry jargon.
- Capacity. An in-house marketing manager, no matter how good, will always just be a single pair of hands. With an external agency, you can draw upon several specialist team members to assist with managing and optimising your campaign. By vetting agencies from the outset, you can be more confident that your marketing needs will actually be met, going forward together.
- Flexibility. Some agencies will require that you sign up to a minimum time period for their services, such as 6-12 months. Others will operate on a rolling, monthly contract. Here at MarketingAdviser, for instance, we allow clients to walk away if they were ever to find themselves unhappy with our service, provided they give 30 days’ notice. This means that you are not “tied in” with your marketing agency, and gives you potential breathing space to find another option down the line if things don’t work out with your choice of agency, for whatever reason.
There are some possible drawbacks to working with a financial marketing agency, however:
- Expense. Marketing agencies usually charge a monthly fee for their services, which is likely to range in at least the hundreds of pounds. There are cheaper options, such as employing an offshore freelancer to help with your Google Ads campaign, for instance. However, here you run various risks where the person might not fully understand your language, or how your business works. There are possible security risks with handing people login details.
- Inexperience. It is possible that you might end up choosing a marketing agency which claims to be able to deliver, and has done so for other financial firms, yet turns out to be a waste of time. It’s a shame, but unfortunately, there are bad apples in any batch which can make a bad name for the rest. Here, we recommend that you check an agency’s portfolio of past work carefully, and research areas where they have claimed to deliver strong past results.
- Misunderstandings and/or miscommunications. An external agency will naturally “sit outside” your business, and so there is some risk that they might not fully understand your marketing needs or goals. To mitigate this, it really does help to find an agency with a strong track record of working in your industry.
Marketing Managers: Pros & Cons
Turning our attention now to employing a dedicated marketing person, within your business:
- Knowledge. By “bedding” someone into your business, they have the opportunity to really get to know your brand, who your clients are and where your company needs to go. They can become part of the fabric of the team, and help positively shape the firm’s direction.
- Focus. By having a dedicated person employed to deal with your marketing, it frees up headspace for you, as the company director, to focus on other important things that need your attention.
- Workload. Naturally, having an extra person in-house means that you have an extra pair of hands, when needed, to assist the rest of the team during exceptionally business periods when everyone needs to pick up and spin some extra plates (e.g. at the end of the financial year).
Here are some drawbacks to employing a marketing person, however:
- Limited capacity. As mentioned above, even the best employee will only be able to devote so much time, energy and attention to your firm’s marketing. They cannot possibly do everything.
- Expense. Employing a marketing person, even on the lower end of the scale, can actually often end up costing more than the services of an external marketing agency. Especially when you factor in things like National Insurance contributions and taxes into the picture.
- Inexperience. In all likelihood, most candidates you will be considering are likely to be just starting out in their careers. People with significant experience in financial services are harder to find, and come with a much higher price tag. That means that you are likely going to need to take on someone who, to some degree, will need time to get to know your industry, business and clients.
In our opinion (and of course we’d say this), partnering with an experienced, specialist marketing agency is usually the clear winner.
However, there can certainly be enormous value in employing an in-house marketing person if you find the right candidate, and there are many cases where it is possible to have both together – i.e. partner with an agency for some of your marketing needs, whilst delegating the rest to your employee.
If you are interested in speaking to us about how we work as a digital agency, and would like to talk over a possible digital marketing campaign, then we would love to hear from you. Get in touch today, to arrange a free, no-commitment marketing consultation with a member of our team.