Life Sciences Marketing

6 Reasons to Hire an Agency for Your Life Science Marketing

Your marketing budget may be better off with an expert
6 Reasons to Hire an Agency for Your Life Science Marketing
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In: Life Sciences Marketing

I've seen the agency-customer relationship from almost every angle over the years. I've hired agencies to help grow my business, collaborated on campaigns with numerous agencies, and now, I run my own one-man marketing shop (more on that here).

When I refer to marketing agencies, I'm not just talking about the large outfits with dozens of staff members. To me, an agency can range from the behemoth conglomerates to the solo freelance consultant making a living off their expertise.

Of course, I'm a bit biased here, as I'm now part of the agency business myself, but as always, I'm trying to be transparent and give you a useful list to consider if you're thinking about teaming up with an agency or a consultant like me.

So without further ado, let’s look at some of the reasons you should hire a marketing agency:

1. The expertise

As a marketing manager or business executive, you're often juggling many responsibilities that leave little room for hands-on work.

This means that your soft skills and management experience often develop much faster than your technical skills. So when it comes to setting up a complicated task, you might be better off with someone whose job it is to do it every day.

Sure, you could roll up your sleeves, dive in, and probably get the job done. But let's face it: time is a finite resource, and you've got a balancing act to maintain. Investing in the services of an expert, if your company's budget allows, can pay off in the long run. Plus, working with someone who is transparent about their methods can be a valuable learning experience.

So the first thing to do when considering an agency is to look at their past work and ask them as many questions as you can to better understand how their experience can be valuable to your specific case.

2. Cost efficiency

Having bootstrapped my own company from the ground up, I faced a common problem many startups have: hiring and training newbies.

In the early days, when funds are tight, your options are limited. Opting for fresh-faced juniors straight out of school or even interns seems like the logical way to go, with the intention of molding them into capable team members.

However, I've learned the hard way that this approach is not always the most cost-effective.

Training someone can be very gratifying, and I don't regret investing my time in this area over the years. However, when you add up the hours spent training, the time lost fixing mistakes, and the overall inefficiency of inexperienced people, hiring an expert from the get-go may actually be the smarter move.

Sure, it may seem pricier upfront, but let's crunch the numbers:

Bringing on a junior marketing assistant will cost your company about €30,000 per year if you are in Europe (and twice that if you are in the US).

With that kind of budget, you could spend €2,500 per month working with an agency or a freelance marketer.

If they charge €100/hour, which is what you’ll have to pay for experience, you’ll get 25 hours of services each month.

Believe me, I can do more in 25 hours than a junior could in a month. It's not magic; it's simply a decade's worth of accumulated experience.

To be clear, I'm not suggesting you overlook the potential of young talent (because, again, I think training someone is an amazing experience), but when it comes to specialized tasks, you might be better off spending your budget on an expert.

I once hired an intern to work on our SEO for six months. He had very little previous experience, so most of the six months was spent on training. While we did see some progress, it was far from groundbreaking. On the bright side, this experience paved the way for him to land a full-time SEO role elsewhere and launch his career, which in itself is a great reward as a manager.

In contrast, working with an agency required no training at all, so instead of waiting six months for the trainee to be ready, we were able to tackle problems right away.

Run your own numbers and figure out your options. If you have a small budget but plenty of time, hiring and training a junior might be worth it. If not, an agency could save you money and time.

3. Access to a full tech stack

Marketing agencies often invest heavily in marketing and analytics tools they use to help their clients. Take SEO tools, for instance—they're practically indispensable in today's digital landscape and could easily set you back a cool €100-€200 per month if you were to subscribe independently (agencies often opt for high-usage plans and spread the cost across multiple clients).

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. You may also need email automation services, social media management tools, analytics platforms, and a bunch of other nifty gadgets. Before you know it, your tech stack will top $500 per month, and in some cases, soar into the thousands, depending on your specific needs.

The beauty of working with an agency? All of these costs are already included in the price. Plus, you don't have to become a guru in every single one of these tools because the agency has you covered. They've already mastered the ins and outs of these platforms, so you don't have to.

4. A fresh perspective

Sometimes, being too close to a project can limit creativity and result in stale ideas. Agencies, on the flip side, aren't bogged down by your day-to-day grind and bring a fresh perspective to the table.

Another critical aspect to consider when hiring an agency or marketing freelancer is their honesty. I make it a point to be upfront with my clients, even if it means risking the relationship. I'd rather speak the cold, hard truth than sugarcoat the reality.

Since I've been offering my services, I've turned down more clients than I've taken on. Why? Because I often find obvious flaws in their marketing strategy that need to be addressed before I dive into a campaign.

For example, one prospect approached me about a lead generation campaign, yet their website wasn't even indexed on Google. My advice? Prioritize fixing their SEO first. Sadly, they weren't receptive to my arguments, and we never crossed paths again.

If you’re open to having an expert look under the hood of your marketing, working with an agency can lead to much more than you initially think.

5. Minimize the risk

Here's a compelling reason to team up with an agency: it's a low-risk move. If things take a wrong turn or the results don't meet expectations, you can easily cut ties and move on.

This strategy could be particularly smart if you’re starting a project with high uncertainty. Think of it as a safety net in case things don’t go as planned.

Sure, you’ll pay a bit of extra compared to using internal resources, but you’ll minimize the chances that people in your team don’t have the skills to do the job, or the disruption of having to shift resources around.

And here’s a dirty little secret nobody likes to admit: an agency can also serve as a convenient scapegoat. If the project flops, it’s all too easy to point fingers at them in front of your boss (not that you should; it’s bad; seriously; but it’s an option).

6. Accelerate your career growth

Ok, so while we’re on the touchy subject, let’s keep going.

If you're considering hiring an agency, you've got a marketing budget that's at least in the tens of thousands. Anything less and an agency might be out of your financial reach. Your company is probably growing or already quite large, which means there's room for you to move up the corporate ladder. Climbing that ladder takes time and effort, often spent away from doing hands-on marketing yourself.

Considering all this, you need to deliver results, but you also need to navigate the internal politics.

Here’s why an agency makes sense in this context: they provide detailed reports that you can leverage for your own career advancement. After all, you're the one who came up with the genius idea of hiring an agency. At the end of the day, no one will be praising the agency—they'll be celebrating you.

A good agency or consultant understands that. They’ll make your life easier when it comes to reporting, so you can then spend even more of your budget with them (win-win, right?).

What to look for in an agency

For the sake of keeping this post short and to the point, I’m only looking at the bright side of working with an agency, but of course, not every consultant marketer out there will be beneficial to your business.

Large agencies, in particular, might not be the best option as they take as many clients as possible, often recycling campaign templates across their customers instead of providing in-depth and custom advice (which is understandable, as they have big numbers to crunch).

That’s why when I talk about agencies, I also include one-or-two-person shops in the mix as a valuable or even better alternative.

Over the past decade, I must have overseen close to a thousand campaigns for advertisers on Labiotech. About a quarter of them were agency-led and I can clearly say that whenever a big agency worked with us, communication was somewhat a little more difficult than with small, human-sized agencies.

It has nothing to do with the people who work there, because they're capable marketers as well, but it's just the fact that each account manager has to manage so many clients at once that they lose touch with the customization of the campaign.

So my last piece of advice when you’re looking for an agency is to consider the size of the company and to figure out if that’s really what’s best for you. Again, I’m very biased, so don’t just trust me; do your own research instead.

And if you want to give me a chance to work with you, feel free to tell me more about your project here.

Written by
Joachim Eeckhout
Over the past decade, I have specialized in science communication and marketing while building a successful biotech media company. Now, I'm sharing what I've learned with you on The Science Marketer.
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