Inbound marketing can work for franchises looking to gain traction when web leads are few and far between, but can be a challenge to implement in-house.
This post will walk through the pros and cons of taking on an inbound marketing program yourself vs. outsourcing it to a dedicated inbound marketing agency.
For some franchises, planning and executing inbound campaigns effectively in-house can work. For others, the costs, commitment, and ability to pull off content-rich marketing projects effectively is simply too much put on the shoulders of a marketing team who may not be familiar with content marketing in the first place.
To help you parse out the benefits of partnering with an agency that specializes in inbound versus attempting to go it alone, let’s go through some of the various benefits and pitfalls of taking on the work yourself.
Keep in mind; although it’s obvious by now, I work for a digital marketing agency so it’s totally fine to take what I say with a grain of salt. By all means, I encourage everyone to explore all the information they can before making a decision they can be confident in.
If you’re considering going it alone in-house, let’s cut out the hype and talk about what inbound actually requires to make it work.
Skills needed for a successful inbound marketing program
Creating “content” isn’t as easy as it sounds.
The idea of inbound marketing as a strategy focused solely on content creation is an oversimplification of what is actually a wide variety of work that takes a lot of planning and forethought.
To compel serious buyers to take interest in your franchise opportunity, you need more than just a blog post and a hastily thrown-together newsletter.
Your work needs to be creative, attractive, unique, and well-written. And creating work that meets those guidelines takes a certain skillset.
What skills do you need to do inbound marketing? Here are the basics:
- Project management
- Website and mobile development
- SEO experience
- Graphic design
- Video editing, and
- Analytics knowledge—just to name a few.
On top of all of necessary skills, you’ll also need the tools and software needed to make sure you’re putting those skills to use effectively and efficiently.
There are some excellent all-in-one marketing platforms out there like HubSpot (our platform of choice) that allow users to create and post content and distribute it to subscribers, all while being able to track engagement through a contact's buyer's journey.
Because HubSpot has a hefty price tag, we often see companies working with several different systems to manage their inbound marketing strategy. While this is definitely the route that saves the most dollars, it is worth considering the time and headache that can often be spent trying to make sense of disparate systems.
Getting down to brass tacks: The pros and cons of going it alone with inbound
What are the pros and cons of doing inbound marketing in-house? Here's a quick overview:
- Quick communication between team members
- Sole responsibility for your successes and failures
- The ability to hand pick team members
- The ability to connect closely with other parts of the company
- High payroll expenses when compared to monthly retainer fees
- Onboarding new staff to fill vacant roles
- Physical space and hardware for additional staff
- Tendencies to get overwhelmed with multiple projects at once
- Shortsightedness when it comes to innovative marketing ideas
Outsourcing the work to professional inbound marketing agencies
One of the biggest problems franchises face when they try to take everything on themselves is a lack of flexibility.
Whether it’s a “this-is-how-we-do-things-around-here” mentality that permeates the company culture, or teams simply don’t have the time to stay ahead of the curve, getting stuck in a one-track mindset with fixed campaigns and rigid procedures are a recipe for failure in this quickly evolving industry.
Unlike an in-house team, agencies focus squarely on inbound day in and day out.
While most of the time is spent planning, creating, and publishing the content that resonates with your target buyer, a skilled agency also takes the time to see where inbound is headed next to make sure clients aren’t merely following trends, they're ahead of them.
If you’re worried about accountability issues, it’s important to realize that each inbound action is built with measurement in mind—a benefit both for the agency and client when it comes time to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t.
If your franchise lead generation efforts are falling flat, and you’re looking for a long-term solution designed to bring the serious buyers to you, it may be worth exploring whether working with an agency is right for you.
We've put together a straight-forward guide intended to provide honest answers about what it's like to work with an agency, both the pros and cons. Click here to download it.
If you're still looking to learn more about whether inbound marketing is something you want to implement in-house, we suggest reading our guide to Franchise SEO. While it's not solely focused on inbound marketing, it is specific to franchising and covers the basics of getting your business found online.