In-House or Agency – What’s The Best Startup Marketing Strategy?

April 14, 2016
By John

Britain’s a nation of shopkeepers. Don’t take our word for it, listen to the Rt Hon Lord Young (the Prime Minister’s advisor on enterprise) who published a report at the start of 2015 showing that small firms in the UK account for 48 per cent of employment and 33 per cent of private sector turnover.

2015 was a record-breaker, according to Companies House data analysed by StartUp Britain and the Centre for Entrepreneurs, with 608,110 new businesses started over the year, beating 2014’s previous record-breaking 581,173.

Those are phenomenal numbers that show the passion and commitment of our nation to roll their sleeves up, get out there and try it for themselves. Nobody starts their own business on a whim, though, and we bet the vast majority of those startups will be desperate to grow quickly, year-on-year.

The best way to do that is through marketing, and those with serious, fast growth in mind will have considered a startup marketing plan. There’s a catch, though; what’s the best way to spend that startup marketing budget? Hire in-house employees or partner with a startup marketing agency?

The pros and cons in-house of startup marketing

When starting out you’ll want to make sure every penny of your startup marketing budget is helping your business stand out against your competitors and getting you in front of your target market.

To that extent a lot of people will like to bring in their own people to execute their startup marketing plan. There’s nothing at all wrong with that; if you have the money available to hire four or five close employees to keep an eye on your startup marketing strategy then it’s certainly an option to consider.

There are reasons why some find that approach preferable when startup marketing. The business owner will be on-site at all times to oversee what’s going on, will be able to collaborate with their employees at a moment’s notice and have that element of control that they may not have with an agency.

However, there are caveats to keeping startup marketing in-house. Marketing isn’t an all-in-one solution; say you’re committed to using inbound marketing to grow, it’s better to have various inbound specialists than a Jack of all trades.

Considering a startup marketing agency

There are so many channels to advertise on to reach potential customers – especially socially – that business owners must be wary of doing things by half when startup marketing.

To really make an impact in-house for rapid inbound growth then it would be wise to employ specialists in search, biddable media, social media, analytics and reporting, email marketing, and possibly more depending on the results you’d like to achieve.

Again, the budget has to be there to have that knowledgebase in-house, and there’s still no guarantee of results. As well as extra staff costs and a potential increase in overheads, there will also be the added pressure for them to perform in what is an industry with constantly-changing algorithms and shifting sand.

Partnering with an agency can help alleviate those problems, though, and as many startups have found is an affordable way to quickly grow their business and find their niche online.

An agency that specialises in marketing for startups will have those specialist departments mentioned above and more; most importantly, an insight into market trends in your sector and the tactics your competitors are using to attract customers and reach out to prospects.

A good agency will be able to look at your startup objectively and see your business as your potential customers do, and use their insight and knowledge to build a creative strategy that gets you both instant attention amongst targeted customers and effective long-term inbound gains. The most important thing that an agency provides is something that you simply can’t buy: time.

Having an in-house marketing team will give you the security and the knowledge that you and your team are in control of your own destiny, but managing them and overseeing the strategy will keep your eyes firmly on the marketing side of your startup instead of other areas that need just as much attention to grow.

Partnering with a startup agency will allow them to concentrate on your creative marketing efforts with specialist knowledge of your sector, building a strategy with your approval that helps your young business capture a targeted slice of the market at a budget that suits.

Most importantly, though, you can let them get on with the job of attracting new clients and custom while you concentrate on the parts that made your business special in the first place.

The times are changing, outbound is outdated and in some cases, can be potentially dangerous for your brand financially and in a reputational sense. Big fines are being handed out to serial data offenders. With inbound you can avoid this and get the best from your leads so read our blog “How to create Inbound Strategy Masterclass” for more information.