Marketing is rarely a one-player activity. In any given B2B organization, there are likely more marketing to-dos to be done than a solitary human could ever hope to do—or at least do well.
If you’re in a sales or leadership role in a small-and-growing technology or software company with little or no marketing resources, you’ve likely seen this for yourself when taking on some marketing tasks out of necessity. Why’s it so hard to get things started?
The marketing challenge all growing B2B organizations face
There are many hurdles you’ll face in a growing B2B organization with a marketing team of one or two (or zero). But most of these are variations on the same problem: a lack of internal resources.
There’s just a finite amount of time, budget, and people at your disposal. This is especially true if you’re taking on marketing as a side project and still have other essential work that must be done.
While you may find it impossible to scrounge up more budget or squeeze more time into the day, the “people” part of the equation seems solvable, right? You can hunt for new talent to staff an entire team (unlikely) or (lightbulb moment!) hire an agency.
There’s a reason it’s Ocean’s 11 and not Ocean’s 1, after all. To pull off a big job, you need a big team of specialists. George Clooney—or Frank Sinatra, if you prefer—wouldn’t have gotten too far without a team with unique skills, a shared gameplan, the ability to communicate, an understanding of the latest tools and techniques, and the capacity to adapt to changes.
If you’re the one tasked with managing marketing or part of a skeleton crew starting from scratch, you know that’s all easier said than done. And it certainly feels less glamorous than an elaborate casino heist.
I spent much of my career in a similar position (spinning up marketing teams solo—not orchestrating heists.) Working internally building and running marketing teams for small and medium-sized tech and software companies, I saw that when marketing opportunities arose, the solution always seemed obvious: “Let’s bring on an agency!”
But, without fail, I discovered there is one big issue that results from that thinking.
The problem with “let’s bring on an agency”
In one role, I remember bringing on an agency equipped to help us generate leads. They did outstanding work, but they had a singular focus. Meanwhile, my focus was anything but singular, and it was driven by changing organizational objectives.
With each tweak in strategy or new opportunity uncovered, it inevitably meant bringing in another agency or specialist. First it was to get help with SEO. Then marketing automation. Next up was the bigger-picture strategy of aligning sales and marketing.
It felt like one of those cartoon scenarios where you’re attempting to plug leaks as they pop up until you run out of fingers and toes.
And after all that, the underlying problem remained: we still had a lack of internal resources. We could achieve occasional small wins, but overall our marketing efforts were floundering or dead in the water.
I brought on help because we were overwhelmed, but then I was overwhelmed trying to manage multiple vendors, ensure projects get completed on time, and keep all the external parties up to speed. Using multiple agencies and specialists only multiplied the amount of work I had.
How can you effectively run a marketing team and get the most out of your external investments when you need help all over the place?
Fortunately, I would eventually find the answer: a full-service B2B marketing agency.
What is a full-service B2B marketing agency?
A full-service marketing agency is basically an outsourced B2B marketing department. They help you work toward your marketing goals and design marketing programs to achieve those goals. They’re not limited to specific channels, as some agencies are, so you’re not paying one company for help with paid search and another with B2B content strategy and so on.
This is accomplished by having a diverse team with a broad range of skill sets—specialists who are well versed in their unique piece of the marketing puzzle and bring to the table an understanding of the processes, tools, and best practices that have helped transform other B2B organizations’ marketing efforts.
They can run integrated campaigns, measure KPIs, and are—essentially—an extension of your team. This allows even a small start-up to tap into the strategic power of an enterprise’s dedicated marketing team.
Where I found a piecemeal approach to working with agencies or specialists to be unsustainable, I found working with a full-service marketing agency provided the “break in case of emergency” help I needed right away—while simultaneously laying a strategic foundation for future success. It was the kind of work I would have done myself if I had a few more hours in the day and clones of myself.
Reasons to leverage a full-service B2B marketing agency
From a resource standpoint, when I was a team of one (or a few) trying to manage everything was impossible. Bringing in a full-service marketing agency that could support my organization all the way through saved me multiple times over the years.
Here are a few benefits of bringing in the right agency.
1. Efficiency and cost
Hiring isn’t cheap. And even if you did have the budget to take your marketing time from 0 to 60 in record time, it’s also not particularly easy to hire right now in the midst of “the Great Resignation.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports almost 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July, the fourth month in a row of record high quits.
2. Process and productivity
There’s another big cost and efficiency-related bonus that comes with a full-service marketing agency: process and productivity.
A full-service marketing agency is essentially a turnkey solution. The team doesn’t need months to ramp up and plod about creating processes. They’re experienced and ready to be productive on day one. Just give them the green light and some guidance on your objectives, and they’re off to work for you.
Just because a full-service marketing agency offers a wide range of services doesn’t mean you have to use all of them. But it does mean they’re there when you need them.
Suddenly realize you need support around virtual events and email marketing? Or maybe you just need to level up your LinkedIn ads. Your full-service marketing agency is plugged into everything you’re doing, including business and marketing strategy—context that would eat up precious time in introductory calls if bringing on a new, separate agency.
4. Measuring performance
One of the most common reasons I’ve seen organizations turn to a full-service marketing agency is to understand what is working and what isn’t working. I learned early on that measuring performance is essential to marketing, and a good agency will track your success and report on results so you can keep an eye on that ROI.
5. Skill sets and best practices
Even if you’re not engaging a full-service marketing agency for support around things like SEO or website optimization, you can trust that there’s an understanding of these areas (and their importance) on your team, meaning your efforts are informed by best practices from a broad spectrum of marketing specializations.
6. Trends in marketing and tech
We don’t know what we don’t know. It may be a cliche, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true.
Often organizations may not even realize the skills or tools they need, so how can they possibly seek them out? Especially when it comes to the latest and greatest in marketing tech and trends.
A full-service marketing agency will be up to speed on up-to-date approaches that deliver the best results and the ever-changing tech tools that make marketing more effective.
7. Marketing and sales alignment
Marketing and sales can have a contentious relationship in organizations—if they have any relationship at all. An outsider with an understanding of productive sales-marketing alignment can help bridge the gap between sales and marketing and eliminate any friction.
In my experience, getting marketing working with sales brings tremendous benefits. One of the immediate ones? Sales enablement.
Sales enablement puts insights and tools needed to close more deals in the hands of your sales team, and any full-service agency worth your time should place a high priority on it.
What about my existing resources?
What if you have some marketing resources in place? Surely then a full-service agency would be difficult to work into the mix, right? Not at all!
A strong agency has the ability to plug in where needed and help with processes and development of internal resources. You divide up what your internal team can handle, outsource what you can’t, and work together to accomplish a shared set of goals.
By ensuring everything works together from top of the funnel to sales, the impact of a full-service marketing agency will be felt far beyond the marketing team.
Is a full-service marketing agency right for you?
When you’re lacking in marketing resources, it can be challenging to know where to begin. But working solely to address immediate needs or a single problem can put you in a reactionary position. For me, I saw working to put out fires caused my teams to overlook bigger-picture strategy work that would prove foundational to future success.
A full-service agency can dive in on day one to achieve your immediate to-dos all while creating a sound marketing strategy that connects marketing efforts to sales objectives, builds out processes and technologies, and offers reports on marketing efforts.
Wondering if a full-service agency is right for you? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do I understand what is working and what isn’t?
- Am I struggling to hire an internal resource with the broad range of skills I need?
- Do our lead gen efforts rarely see success?
The right partners make all the difference
Sales departments and leadership have enough on their plate, which makes finding the right partners and managing them a luxury most can’t afford. The challenges can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re wrestling with a lack of resources and an abundance of tasks.
But the right agency can help. I’ve seen it first hand—both as the internal marketer bringing in a full-service marketing agency and, now, on the other side having built my own agency.
I’ve taken the lessons learned from internal marketing to place a high priority on the areas that make the most difference for marketing in small and medium-sized tech and software organizations:
- Laying a strategic foundation
- Prioritizing sales enablement
- Aligning to work with existing teams
- Measuring performance
If your organization is ready to take its marketing efforts to the next level, we’re here to help. Get in touch and let’s talk about what’s next for your organization.