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Should you hire an in-house team or a digital marketing agency?

OK.I might be a little biased here 🙂 as I am running a small digital marketing agency in Dubai but still if you read this article, you’re going to learn a few things here for sure. Let’s start reading then.

No doubt, having an in-house digital marketing team has a lot of advantages for a small business. For example, you are fully in control of the digital marketing process that can ensure the quality of work. However, keeping an in-house team works best for a large organization that can afford to pay the salaries. Unfortunately, it is really difficult for small businesses to hire a team of digital marketing specialists.

 A big company can hire, for example, an SEO Specialist, Content Specialist, PPC/Google Ads Specialist, Social Media/Community Manager, Videographer and Graphic Designer. The entire team is led by a digital marketing manager or director.

In contrast, most small businesses neither has the money nor the willpower to commit to having a full-fledged digital marketing team. Therefore, it is better for a small business to hire an agency to take care of the digital marketing process. This way small businesses can get all the specialized services of digital marketing at much lower cost while freeing itself to focus on the core process of their business.

Today, both the client (a small business) and the agency have to work very closely to succeed. The agency’s team has to get involved in the clients operations. They have to develop a winning relationship that should ideally result in growth for the business as well as the agency. It would not happen overnight and most small business do not appreciate the challenges/cost involved in digital marketing. They think everything is supposed to be cheap and do not want to pay the appropriate amount for the services. Of course, they want the best service but don’t want to give the agency the right budget. In other words, they try to outsmart the agency to get the best deal at the expense of the agency’s interest. It is bad business and never works.

 On the other hand, every business has a different set of challenges that ,sometimes, a digital marketing agency fails to appreciate because the team is over-confident about their digital marketing skills/experience. In fact, the business development team of an agency can encourage a business(client) to expect immediate results after writing the first check. Not to mention, the over-commitment that often haunts the team later.

It is important to note that most agencies are not specialized, at least it is the case in Dubai.

Therefore, to avoid unnecessary complications & issues, both business and the agency can start with an open mind and accept that both have limitations when starting a new business relationship. Both partners need  to run the digital marketing process together for at least 2-4 weeks sharing knowledge, communicating their perspective, and clarifying expectations. In fact, they can write a formal contract after the trial or test period.

The problem often arises when a small business develops unrealistic expectations and the agency fails to address the issue at the start of the project. As per my experience in Dubai, small businesses mostly fail to appreciate the importance of digital marketing. When they do give you a call, they have a huge list of services but are not willing to provide the appropriate budget. In response, some agencies take over the project because they need the work, but then they start cutting corners almost everywhere, resulting in a bad experience for both.

Besides, a lot of businesses hire one person who might be just a skilled graphic designer or SEO expert but they expect the employee to do everything such as online advertising, manage the website, social media and content writing. Often, the pay is less than $1900. In the end, the results are not good. Thus, making the owner skeptical of digital marketing. Of course, the owner would not see anything wrong with their approach or mindset here as they are practically planning to fail here.

In conclusion, hiring a digital marketing agency’s service is a good option for a small business provided that both the agency and the business are willing to develop a mutually beneficially partnership through sharing profit, knowledge and expertise. One can hope that an agency would lead the process at the initial stage of a project, and the client would honestly participate in the process. It is no use to start mind games to outsmart each other, it is simply unhealthy business practice.

The case for Digital Marketing during the Covid 19 pandemic

Digital Marketing can help reduce the cost of brand promotion/marketing. As people have to observe social distancing or prefer staying at home, therefore, many people prefer to do shopping online. Digital marketing can help communicate a brand message and connect with the target customers/audience online via social media or app promotion. Today, the number of people who opt for buying online is growing rapidly in Dubai making digital marketing an essential tool in the marketing mix of a business.

It also depends on the nature of a business. I reckon most small business can benefit from content marketing as it costs way less as compared to direct advertising but produces great results. In fact, through content marketing a small business can put itself in the league of big businesses in terms of getting the desired eyeballs.

However, if you can afford online advertising along with content marketing, then it is an added advantage and can get you quick results. Perhaps the best approach is to do 360 degree activation of your brand.

Every industry has its own set of challenges and limitations. I like to focus  on small and medium size businesses. For example, a corporate law firm or business consultancy can run both PPC/Google Ads and do content marketing (including SEO). Similarly, an electronics wholesaler/distributor can use YouTube/Social Media such TikTok/FB to reach potential retailers in Dubai, African and the central Asia. They can also run Google/FB ads in a target country to produce quick results while doing SEO in the long-run.

Some eCommerce sites in the garments category reach small design boutiques through Instagram to increase their subscription.

In short under the current circumstances, deciding the best digital marketing channel for both B2B & B2C business depends on the nature of its industry and where the target customers can be found.

Note. the article will be edited and refined, it’s based on a conversation I had with someone last week.


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