Should You Use An Advertising Agency?

Should you use an advertising agency or conduct the operation in-house? Although each has its own specificities and ways of operating, their role remains similar: to take care of your advertisements to bring you as close as possible to your business objectives.

Some will offer a turnkey service, and take care of everything. Others will involve you in the process. For example, it is common for an agency to offer you to create the advertisements yourself and only manage your budget.

Also, some will specialize in certain channels (eg only Facebook advertising), and others will offer services that go beyond advertising, such as SEO on Google or content creation.

The Agency (with a capital A!) is often seen as the only way to delegate its marketing strategy to obtain results, as a compulsory passage for a company.

Fortunately, not only is this not the case, but in addition, several other options may be more advantageous for your company, depending on its situation.

In many cases, the advertising agency is not the best solution to achieve its objectives. And Charles Davignon says this despite the fact that he founded the online advertising agency, Antilope , over 4 years ago.

The reality is that too many businesses turn to an agency for their ads when a better, less risky, and wiser option may exist.

It all depends on your situation, your budget, your risk tolerance and your marketing strategy. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not working with an agency is actually a good idea for your business.

The agency is not the only option
The first thing to consider before thinking about delegating your online advertising is the technical accessibility of advertising platforms.

Today with a few YouTube videos or online training, it is possible to learn in a few hours to use advertising networks.

Where before, platforms like the Facebook ad manager were huge maze of buttons and menus.

Today… it still is! But fortunately, creating a simple first advertising campaign is more accessible than ever.

So if you want to experiment with online advertising for a short time, or with a relatively limited budget, and someone on your team has a few hours to spare, it’s totally possible to create your first advertising campaign on your own. -same.

In the same vein, rather than completely delegating your advertising to an agency, the consultant option is possible: an expert can bill you for a few hours to support you in setting up your campaigns, rather than do for you.

In short, it is important to understand that the agency is not your only option for advertising online. Sometimes it is useful, and sometimes not.

What is your budget?
The budget is the first determining factor in your decision to hire an online advertising agency for the simple reason that an agency is not free.

Thus, in addition to having a budget to devote to the distribution of advertising, which is called the media budget, it will be necessary to think about paying this agency.

If you have a small budget to invest, like less than $1000/month, an agency is rarely a good solution.

Agency fees will eat up the majority of your budget, and there will be almost nothing left in the media budget.

In other words, it’s not worth paying your agency $600 to manage the remaining $400 of the budget.

In a case like that, it is better to take the $1000 and invest it yourself. Even if the results are not as good as with an agency, the additional budget invested will have much more impact.

If your budget is higher than 1000$/month, we enter the “it depends”. On the other hand, the idea remains the same: it is rarely interesting to pay your agency more than the budget that you invest in advertising.

On our side, once in a while, we take on a client, and their advertising budget is smaller than our costs. In a case like that, we want to get results quickly and increase the media budget to find a more suitable proportion.

Other agencies will offer extremely low prices to accommodate smaller budgets, but will only follow a reduced service.

Finally, above $5000/month budget, it is generally more interesting to hire an online advertising agency.

Even if its cost impacts your budget, the performance it can bring will normally be greater.

In other words, it’s worth paying an agency (even if it means reducing your media budget), because it will manage this budget well and bring you even more results than if you had done it yourself.

But of course, not everything is always so simple, and budget is only one factor in whether or not you should hire an agency. Another important factor is your risk tolerance.

What risks are you willing to take?
Another important factor is that of risk. Because yes, investing in advertising involves risks: it may not work as expected.

No matter how confident you are in your business, there are always scenarios where your advertising investment is not getting you anything.

The reason is simple: investing in advertising ensures that your offer is seen by more people. But of those people who see your ad, not everyone will click, and not everyone will buy.

Many businesses view online advertising as an “easy recipe” for getting tons of sales fast. Obviously, this is not the case.

If you are starting your business, and your product/market fit and positioning are not yet proven, do not invest in advertising expecting to generate sales.

A product that nobody cares about without advertising will not become more attractive with advertising.

And when everything is aligned, it can take several weeks, even several months, before being profitable with its advertising investment. Makes sense: Just because people see your business today doesn’t mean they’ll be ready to buy immediately.

In short, between the time you start investing in advertising and the time you can reap the rewards of your investment, your business should not be short of money.

Ideally, we want to make sure that the money invested in advertising is money that we are ready to lose.

Too many companies take a leap into the void by investing in advertising, and find themselves in financial crisis, three months later, because it did not work as planned.

If, for your budget, working with an agency (or even investing in advertising) puts you in a risky position, it is better to wait and see what alternatives are available to you.

Do you have a marketing strategy?
The role of an advertising agency is to design and implement your advertising strategy. But that’s not enough. An advertising strategy without a broader marketing strategy is like having the prettiest storefront, but nothing inside.

In a marketing strategy, there is the work of positioning the company, the different communication and acquisition channels, the content, the brand identity, the customer journey, the shopping experience, and lots of other things. other important things.

Without a minimal marketing strategy, your ads will not perform to their full potential.

Moreover, a reflection on your marketing strategy (by hiring a strategist or doing it internally) will allow you to identify your marketing objectives and priorities, and thus determine whether advertising is really a good opportunity for your business right now.

We often have companies that come to see us ready to put the necessary budget into their advertising, but who quickly realize when talking to us that other options would be more interesting in their case, such as SEO or content creation.

Advertising is not a marketing strategy in itself, and it is not the answer to everything. It’s up to you to decide if this is the right option!

Where are you going to find your customers?
Do you already have a marketing strategy in place, or even a sales strategy? So a good way to consider how advertising can help your growth and whether an agency is needed is to look at how your customers are coming to you right now.

If you have a sales team
If your sales come mostly from canvassing, prospecting or any other form of direct selling, advertising can help you generate qualified leads.

The “typical” scenario (which you can adapt to your sales cycle) is to use advertising to generate sign-ups for a lead magnet , such as an e-book , webinar, or simply a request for contact.

For example, if your prospects are currently entering their email to use a calculator, you should simply put forward this same calculator to try to generate a greater volume of leads.

Indeed, it should be kept in mind that as advertising brings “cold” people to the site – that is to say people who do not know your company -, prospects are likely to be further from the purchase than the average.

In a case like this, hiring an agency can be a good option, because targeting and advertising performance can make a big difference in the quality of leads that come into your pipeline .

That said, if your canvassing is done by cold call / email directly to individuals or companies without them having had contact with you before, the advertising could be less effective quickly.

In this case, it is possible to use advertising as a means of increasing your visibility, without expecting short-term results. Eventually, your representatives will contact people who have potentially already seen your company and, thus, may already be more convinced.

If you do content marketing
Then online advertising can be used to propel said content.

If content marketing brings you customers, it’s because your various pieces of content do a good job of getting some visibility, then giving you credibility in the eyes of your customers, and ultimately encouraging them to switch to the action.

It can be blog posts, videos, podcast episodes or any other content format.

In a case like this, you can use this same content, and promote it in advertising on Facebook or LinkedIn, depending on where your customers are.

With an audience made up of your target customers, display the content that is most suitable for a cold audience, who does not know you yet.

Then, for users who have already visited your website, highlight content aimed at making you credible, or proposing a call to action. We are talking about retargeting here.

For such an advertising strategy, the biggest rests on your content: it must be good, attractive, and addressed specifically to the right customers.

Fortunately, it is possible to test this hypothesis before advertising: if your content strategy is already bringing you customers, today, without advertising investment, you can trust that advertising will help propel it all.

To do this, you simply have to create campaigns using the content of your social networks, i.e. your publications on Facebook or LinkedIn.

You see me coming… As advertising creation is minimal, no need for an agency to start!

If you rely on word of mouth
If your clientele comes mostly from word of mouth from your satisfied customers and/or your network, your relationship with advertising may be special, because you don’t yet know how to attract clients with your marketing.

In other words, we don’t yet know what arguments, what words, what catchphrases or what content to use to take someone who doesn’t know your business and get them to become a customer, because currently those who are learning to know you do it through your network or your customers, who already trust you.

That’s not a problem though. On the other hand, it raises the following question: is investing in advertising the best option at the point where your company is at?

(For some, the answer will be yes. But for others, it will be recommended to start by investing your energy elsewhere, such as in content strategy, in SEO, in creating partnerships, etc.)

The big advantage of advertising is that the response from the public is quick (a few weeks, or a few months), compared to organic SEO or content marketing, which can take much longer to show results.

From this advantage, you can more quickly test your marketing strategy and evaluate:

What kind of hook works best with your customers?
Which platform gives you the most results?
What type of arguments does your clientele need to hear, depending on their stage of reflection?
In short, online advertising can help answer these questions in a timely manner, and allow you to expand your customer acquisition.

That said, it will require a lot of advertising creation (for the various tests) and optimization since you will only start from very few certainties.

So you can do it without an agency, but only if you have a lot of time to devote to it. Depending on your resources, an advertising agency – or a marketing strategist – can help you see more clearly and waste less time.

The vast majority of agencies (and marketers) tend to preach for their own parish, and it can be easy to get confused when deciding where to invest in marketing.

In advertising, working with an agency is relevant in many cases, especially when the budget starts to be substantial, but this does not mean that all companies should rush into it blindly.

In short, always keep in mind that there is no single “one size fits all” solution, and that no one can predict advertising results with certainty.

Each company has its objectives, its strategy and its resources: impossible to do everything at the same time, it is necessary to prioritize. You just have to choose where and how to do it.

Eleanore Frinqois

Eleanore Frinqois, Lead Editor at is a business leader with over 30 years in both start-up and enterprise level organisations. Previously Operations Directer at a £1.8BN media group, alongside setting-up and later selling 3 digital brands - Eleanore has expertise across all aspects of business growth.

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