What does that headline mean? It means generating leads for any business is not getting easier, it’s getting harder. It means generating leads takes very specific skills, expertise and tools. It means what you did last year probably isn’t what you should be doing this year.
It means the playing field is changing, and what you do has to change too. It means that you need a well-designed go-to-market strategy that positions your company to be remarkable in your industry, so your prospects notice you and want to do business with just you.
It means designing and orchestrating the most complex set of tactics into highly personalized and omnichannel campaigns that launch with a set of expectations and then get optimized over time.
Is your current team capable of doing that? Is your current agency? I didn’t think so.
Here are your options for navigating these choppy and uncertain waters.
Unfortunately, this is a common direction for many businesses. You might be wondering why people choose to continue to do what hasn’t worked. The answers are obvious:
People who chose this option hope that this year will be different. But hope is not a strategy, and the results are likely to be the same.
This is another fairly common option when it comes to ramping up lead generation. It’s one that some people think is a less expensive option than hiring an agency, and they think that hiring in-house means that their people can focus on just them.
This approach isn’t without merits.
However, some misconceptions should be clarified before you move in this direction.
First, it’s not less expensive, and it’s probably more expensive when you look at it closely. If you hire one director-level marketing person to run your lead generation efforts and assume you leave them alone to just focus on lead generation, you’re looking at $100k to $150k all in with taxes, benefits and equipment.
This is the level you need to deal with today’s complexities, and this is the level you need to allow any CEO or business owner to provide direction but leave the day-to-day to their new marketing director.
Hire anyone more junior and you should be prepared to be the director. This means you’ll be doling out assignments to your new junior marketing person. That’s not optimal in my mind. You should find someone who knows how to generate leads and let them do that.
Next, it’s likely that this person, while amazing, won’t be able to do everything that needs to be done. For example, will they be able to redesign, make changes to or relaunch a new website if you need it? Are they a graphic designer? Are they an accomplished copywriter? Do they have expertise in your marketing technology platform? Do they know how to run campaigns on Google, Meta and LinkedIn?
It’s unlikely that they are expert at all those different parts of generating leads, which means you might need one or two other people. Those people might run you $60k to $75k. But let’s assume you’re smart, and instead of hiring them, you hire contractors to limit the cost. Those people, at least the good ones, run around $100/hour.
But wait, there are other options here. You can find resources overseas for $25/hour. They don’t work your hours and some don’t speak your language natively. They require a lot of direction and oversight, and in many cases can be unreliable.
My point here is not that this can’t be done but that it introduces a lot of risk. Now your annual investment is probably closer to $200k for your people and any outside support. So, it’s not cheaper to hire your own team.
Plus, these people you just hired can quit at any time. Expect some degree of turnover inside your team. This requires you to recommit time and money to find replacements, further setting you back or delaying results.
Finally, how long is it going to take to get this team together, give them the needed direction, let them form into a highly functional team and start to produce the leads you need to grow? The answer is six months at a minimum. Be prepared to wait six months AFTER your team is complete to start to see results.
Yes, this is a viable option, but go into it with open eyes and realistic expectations.
An alternative to hiring your own team is to hire an agency. You’ll find agencies of all sizes, and hiring an agency offers many advantages. But you need to navigate risks, too.
The first and most significant is you get what you pay for. Please put agencies in the same category as your other professional consultants. Is your attorney the cheapest in town? Is your accountant the cheapest you could find? If you built a house, did you look for the least expensive architect to design your dream home? Of course not.
Agencies provide services at discounted rates for a reason.
First, they hire less experienced people who costs them less money. This translates to you directly because they won’t have the experience to guide and advise you – they’ll simply ask you what you want them to work on. This is fine if you know, but most people need help and guidance to fix what hasn’t worked for years.
Next, you’ll get junior-level work, because that’s the best they can do. They might be nice people and they might work hard, but with limited experience it’s going to be hard for them to get you through the complexities of lead generation and to your goals.
Most agencies like this don’t have proprietary frameworks, systems, processes and tools that they’ve designed to help their clients get better results and for them to deliver work efficiently.
They simply line up the work and knock it down day in and day out. This means it’s hard to create repeatable, scalable and predictable marketing campaigns for your company. It also means the people you’re paying for are starting from scratch on every program and request.
While you’re paying them less, everything they do takes longer and requires rework before it’s done. Now it’s not as affordable as you originally thought because your program is dragging along.
These agencies also tend to have high turnover, because their junior people are working harder for less pay and often find better-paying positions at other companies. They move on, leaving you to start with a new junior person once or twice a year.
Finally, because the agency needs the business and is willing to discount services, they’re not going to try to explain to you why you might need a better message, to be more differentiated, to understand your prospects’ buyer journeys and to create an experience for prospects that makes you the clear choice in your industry.
Instead, they’re going to hop right into the tactics and execute as best they can. Deep down, they know something is missing from their work, and they probably know that the program is going to produce less-than-expected results. But they keep their fingers crossed and plan for a certain amount of churn inside the agency.
No, this isn’t optimal, but it is the agency community today.
However, there are alternatives to the experience above, and even if that’s the experience you’ve had, it doesn’t mean it’s the experience you have to settle for.
Some agencies know what they’re doing and are designed to share it, apply it and install it for companies like yours.
I would encourage you to rethink how you view marketing. It’s not an expense to be managed or controlled but rather an area of the business that needs to be invested in so that it can grow and become a part of your company’s overall growth strategy.
As I stated earlier, if you were sick, you wouldn’t look for the cheapest doctor to help you get better. If you were arrested, you wouldn’t look for the cheapest lawyer to keep you out of prison. If you were building a house, you wouldn’t engage the cheapest architect to create your design docs. Yet day in and day out, CEOs and business owners select their marketing agency based on which has the lowest price instead of which brings the most value.
High-value agencies bring specific elements to their clients, and it’s these elements you should be looking for when selecting an agency.
Any agency that doesn’t start with strategic work first should be eliminated from your search efforts. It’s impossible to generate leads at a scale if you don’t first work on strategy, messaging, differentiation and campaign orchestration.
Lead generation and revenue growth can be systematized, and you should be looking for an agency that has a system, is willing to use that system for you, has proven the system to work over many years and is willing to teach you the system if that’s something you and your team want to learn.
As part of any system, the best agencies have processes, tools and frameworks used day in and day out to make sure they can scale their client programs. These agencies make money because they are smart and execute efficiently, not because they have to hire junior people or offshore resources.
These are the agencies you trust because you have transparency into what they’re working on, and they involve you in the co-creation process associated with that work. They’re making recommendations to you and discussing your options with you. You’re setting the priorities, and they’re doing the execution and showing you the metrics that validate the programs are working.
While this level of professionalism and expertise might cost you more, it’s a lot less risky than hiring someone who has to figure it out on your dime. In the end, this might be a less expensive proposition, as you’ll see more results and quicker than with a lot of other agency options.
You have a choice. All four options presented here are choices you can make related to how you want to try and grow your business. Proceed at your own risk, but know that the team at Square 2 is here to help.