When considering adding or strengthening your organization’s digital marketing capabilities, it is important to strongly consider what you don’t know about a digital marketing agency versus a full-time marketing head.

Let us explore what we do and don’t know and what we often assume

A digital marketing agency comes across as attractive because of its perceived range of skills sets, technological sophistication and its roster of clients. Not to mention their trendy offices. The idea of having your own digital marketing power-house – all in one place – is ideal in one’s mind because of the above mentioned and because, ideally, there would be little room for fragmentation and miscommunication within the digital agency’s organization, leaving the client to focus on their business. For those organization’s that have experienced a digital agency partnership, the honeymoon period for most in the industrial sector quickly shifts into two major points of frustration.

As an example, the first major frustration is the famous monthly retainer and how it gets eaten up by 15-20%, with that time going to administrative tasks like meetings, emails, phone calls, and even note-taking. While admin hours are necessary in the way these agencies function, they begin to build frustration for the client that takes the time to monitor how the retainer is being used. When a client is on a retainer agreement for $10,000 per month and $2,000 of that goes to administrative functions, the client begins to see their hours eaten up quickly. Hours that could have gone to copywriting, email or landing page development, keyword research, etc. could have been completed within that month’s retainer, and now must be pushed to the following month, delaying critical initiatives.

Another example of client-frustration is the lack of understanding of the client’s brand. Your industry, customers, how customers respond to your products and services, customer needs, and your brand’s language, combined have a hefty learning curve. We see many digital agencies that are excellent in the B2C space and think they can apply the same strategies and techniques to B2B but end up causing frustration with their B2B clients because of the “infomercial language” they use to get a prospects attention. Again, retainer hours play a critical role here because the digital agency just doesn’t have the time to learn the client’s brand-language and personality. As a result, you see campaigns with strong “infomercial language” like “Buy Now!” and as a result, the client that has a good idea of what he/she wants their brand to look and sound like has difficulty accepting what the digital agency is producing. There are digital agencies that specialize in industrial or healthcare, for example, but those are few-and-far-between and need to be vetted carefully by management and/or by an experienced digital consultant.

Compared to hiring a dedicated in-house marketing head, organizations experience similar frustrations. While the talent may look good on paper, he/she may be missing some critical skill-sets and experience. These needs must be defined prior to conducting the talent search. While this is obvious, a critical eye is required at the organization’s operational level. Too many organizations base their digital marketing talent needs on assumptions (read the previous post). Like the digital agency, the talent is an upfront investment in time and money which is why it is critical that an early needs-assessment is done. Along with the upfront investment, one must realize that the talent, in some cases comes into the organization and continues to spend. It isn’t unusual to have the talent hire additional digital marketing support, like an agency. If not an agency, then perhaps a digital media company focused on ad buys and paid search marketing. Other outsourcing efforts are also common when a digital marketing head takes the reigns and to be fair, some may be necessary. Graphic designers, SEO experts, website developers, CRM admins, are just a few. Also, realize that the talent may look to spend on expensive software services that they have used in the past.

Assessing the organization’s operations is critical to being able to vet talent. Skills and experience such as being hands-on, strategic and technologically literate are huge for organizations that are looking for their marketing head to do much of the work.

What does a strategic, hands-on and technologically literate talent look like?

If you have a talent that is strategic, hands-on and technologically literate, then he/she may have the ability to handle some or all the following: Planning/execution, basic or advanced WordPress development, marketing automation and inbound marketing efforts, CRM reporting and build segmented lists for smart marketing campaigns, ability to create and deploy email campaigns, create landing pages, and basic graphic design skills. There are more skills and experience to cover but the point here is organizations must be intentional with their talent search. You don’t have to get overly sophisticated with digital marketing efforts. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit that can be harvested. The wave of technology in the media and the buzz amongst colleagues and competition have organizations in a scramble to play catch-up. With new development around AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning, and Blockchain, organizations tend to feel left behind because they can’t even get their sales folks off a spreadsheet.

Our advice is to be conservative. Understand your operation’s and organization’s needs at the most basic level and look at what tools and talents you have at hand so that your talent search can lead to a successful marketing and operations initiative so that your customers and your employees will benefit.

BIC RECRUITING has bolstered highly sought-after B2B digital marketing talent to its recruiting armament in order to help organizations to work through past assumptions, evaluate current operations and begin building and/or restructuring your digital marketing department by placing the most appropriate digital talent.