After getting solid momentum for your startup, one can certainly understand the temptation to jump on board with an agency to capitalize on that momentum. An agency or team of agencies should have the tools, headcount, and collective expertise to expand upon what you already do well. Not to say a match isn’t possible (I know a lot of really smart, capable people that work for agencies), it’s just not likely for a number of reasons.
For one, you’d be paying a premium from day one. The admin folks have to eat, too!
Second, chances are you’re going to want a team that are experts in each specific field like email marketing, eCommerce, SEO, paid search, Amazon media, display, paid social, video, etc. Once you’ve signed on a group of agencies, who’s going to manage and coordinate those agencies to align with what you’re doing? The CMO? CEO? Doubtful. Likely, you’ll spend a good portion of your time dealing with passive aggressive in-fighting and competing pitches.
Most importantly, an agency (or group of agencies) is not going to feel like a part of your team with the same goals as you. Look no further than a media management fee. What if the solution for your business is to NOT run media at all or in a particular channel? Not much incentive to shut things down from the company being paid 10% of what you spend.
The ideal solution would be to bring in a capable person to manage the channels that help you hit your numbers as soon as possible. No extraneous fees. Aligned incentives. I happen to agree with this philosophy, but have seen first-hand how difficult it is to hire and train the right person. I typically see either candidates that have come from another startup or from an agency. The startup candidates typically have the right mentality and would be a great fit for a startup culture. Most need guidance or sink-or-swim training on the tools in eCommerce and media. The agency-sourced media folks are typically deeply trained in one channel like paid search and have limited experience in other areas.
I created Flywheel Demand Generation after startups looking for digital media and eCommerce support passed on contract services because they wanted to hire someone directly. In both cases, I received a call back months later after they had difficulty sourcing candidates. It was sad to think of what could have been accomplished in those months, which is why I started this service.
I hope you’ll be back as I’ll be posting more specific content here about news in the space and tips and tricks within specific channels.