Why Hire a Marketing Agency?

To outsource or not to outsource is often a hot topic within many associations and membership organizations.

The arguments on why current staff should do the job are pretty well know, so I wanted to share some reasons why I believe it can make good sense to bring onboard a marketing agency. Here are five opportunities presented by through an agency.

1. To Bring Perspective and Objectivity – Just as an individuals can benefit from a counselor or coach, there also are situations where an outside perspective is very helpful for an organization. A marketing agency can bring an objective eye to help an association work through issues that are complex, controversial or politically sensitive.

2. To Provide a Proven Methodology – Does it really make sense to reinvent the marketing wheel? There are proven marketing solutions that agencies have developed and tested that can be rolled out right now. By hiring an agency, you can leverage the methodology of these solutions at a fraction of the cost that it would take you to develop them alone. An agency with the right experience may have the right tool at the right time for the job you need done right now.

3. To Raise Accountability – There are times in every organization when the urgent distracts from the important and key goals are not accomplished. Hiring a properly qualified marketing agency with clear definitions of scope and outcomes can bring focus and accountability to a task and get the important item done on time and on schedule.

4. To Supplement Existing Staff – There are times when the workload is just too much for an existing staff to handle. It might be because of vacancies, special projects, or large events. Theoretically, an association could carry staff for these situations, but this might add extra costs for salary, benefits, computers and software, office space, and recruitment or severance. A marketing agency can join your team to help your staff through this time and move on to the next assignment when the crunch is over.

5. To Share Specialized Knowledge or Skills – If you need surgery, you look for the doctor that has done the procedure the most times. You want the doctor with the best specialized skills and knowledge. That’s because no one can be an expert in everything. However, a strong marketing agency is composed of top specialists with very specific skills ranging from print production management, to media and list research, to online advertising lead generation. So when there is an important assignment or program that requires a specific knowledge or skill set, a marketing agency with specialists who have successfully accomplished the assignment dozens of times might be just what the doctor ordered.

If bringing a marketing agency on board is something that you want to consider, I have one other piece of advice. Please remember that hiring a marketing agency is not a commodity purchase.

To find the right agency you will find having a dialogue with candidates much more productive than issuing an RFP. I understand the need for an RFP process and I do get some that are excellent. So this post in no way is meant as a criticism or critique of any RFP that I have received.

However, I have seen much better outcomes for both clients and agencies when the parties meet with each other and help define the specific challenges and needs and then jointly build an appropriate solution.

Full disclosure, I obviously manage a marketing agency and therefore have an opinion on this subject. So I am curious to hear from you. Do you agree or disagree on the benefits of hiring a marketing agency or the process of entering into a relationship? Feel free to post your thoughts.


Vinay Kumar said...


This is really really well said. While I am posting, I just want to say couple of things about you as an advisor & consultant, as I have known you for so many years and have observed you closely in your dealings.

As far as subject matter expertise on membership marketing, no doubt, YOU are THE membership marketing guru. But what I appreciate the most about you Tony is that you put your clients interest ahead of your own, always doing the right thing and your very best for them, which I have observed time and time again.

Building on this, therefore the only thing I would potentially add is that in addition to qualifying the agency, be sure to also speak with your advisor/consultant and the team with you you will be working. This is because for greatest success, as these relationships are long-term, you want to make sure you also would enjoy working with the team.

Well done, my friend.

Tony Rossell said...

Vinay -- Thanks for your thoughtful comments. It is nice to come to a place in life when you do what you do because you truly enjoy the work and the people that you get to work with and for. It makes living by the golden rule seem almost easy. I think you operate in the same way. Tony

Anonymous said...

What does it cost to hire your firm for a small association of about 500 members?

Tony Rossell said...

Thanks for the question about hiring a marketing agency like my firm. We would typically charge a monthly retainer to cover staffing and overhead and then develop and implement a plan based on your budget. In some cases, we will also do some of our membership marketing work on a contingency basis if we have identified a particularly good growth opportunity. Feel free to email me with more details about your organization for more specific cost figures. Tony