Do You Even Need to Hire a Marketing Agency?

I have a personal story that I believe illustrates why partnering with a marketing agency could be one of the smartest decisions you’ll make for your business.

A few years ago, after a series of mammograms came back with concerning results, I had a lumpectomy and biopsy at a well-respected hospital in the area.

After the surgery I had a long, nerve-wracking weekend of recovery at home, waiting with my family for the results we knew wouldn’t be ready until the following week.

Almost immediately, I started receiving ads on my Facebook and Instagram feeds from the same hospital where I’d just had surgery, ads with headlines that read: “You Have Breast Cancer. It Doesn’t Have You.” Another headline read: “The Journey Is Yours. But Not Yours Alone.”

I was taken aback, to say the least. What is happening? Do Facebook and Instagram know something about my personal health that I don’t? Were my private test results being used to target me for advertising?!?

The emotional rollercoaster I was already on took another plunge as I tried to manage my panic.

Thankfully, the test results came back negative, but the breast cancer ads on my social feeds continued for another 8 weeks.

Was I a victim of a HIPAA violation? Probably not. More likely, I was simply the recipient of highly-targeted, eerily precise ads generated by the powerful and ever-changing Facebook/Instagram algorithms.

I have no doubt the marketing team responsible for the hospital’s social media had good intentions. But as a patient on the receiving end of those ads, I felt the type of messaging that found its way to me was irresponsible because it plays on women’s already fragile emotions during a stressful time.

Could the marketing team have done better? Absolutely. I wonder how many other patients received ads like I did and found them distasteful or downright dangerous. How much damage did this ad campaign do to the hospital’s brand?

When you partner with a marketing team that’s the right fit for you, their business is not only about boosting your business, but also protecting your brand from costly mistakes.

Get an outside perspective

It can be challenging for business owners to step out of their own shoes and into the shoes of their current or potential customers. An agency puts a fresh set of eyes and an outsider’s perspective on the pulse of your audience and what’s important to them.

Integrating a modern marketing approach into your business plan is a must as we move into 2024. Your business blueprint must include strategies like social media, search engine optimizations, data and metrics analysis, mobile integration, a robust website and targeted email marketing, to name just a few.

What business owner is an expert at any one of those strategies, let alone all of them?

When you work with an agency, you have access to the collective knowledge of an entire team of experts, whose full-time function is to monitor your online campaigns and maximize their effectiveness.

Leverage expertise

Social media has fundamentally changed the way businesses reach their customers. The reality is, if you’re not strategically using social platforms to connect with your clients, you’re getting edged out by those who are.

And while social media platforms are designed to be intuitive for personal use, successfully engaging these platforms to drive business is a whole different ball game, with complicated algorithms, features, rules and tech that can change literally overnight.

Too often businesses make the mistake of taking a “set it and forget it” approach to their digital campaigns. Case and point, we worked with a client who “cast a wide net” with a pay-per-click campaign to generate new leads. After letting the campaign run for several months without the constant oversight of an agency partner, they realized their cost-per-lead was around $80/lead. With precise segmenting and efficient targeting we were able to reduce their cost-per-lead to $28/lead within six months, a 35% reduction.

You might have an in-house marketing team already, but don’t let that stop you from outsourcing expert help when it comes to navigating the digital landscape. Leveraging a team who specializes in digital strategy ultimately saves your business time, money and training, and allows you to use your media budget to the fullest with no waste. Let a team of digital experts do the heavy lifting when it comes to managing your social strategy, so that you’re free to actually run your business.

Partner with hometown experts

There are many excellent agencies out there doing great work for national clients. But if you’re a local business, I advocate for partnering with a local agency, and here’s why: It’s important that your digital team knows the ins and outs of your market, its history and nuances, and has the kind of insider knowledge about a place that you can only get when you eat, sleep, work and play there.

If you’re considering an agency, dig in and find out where the team is from. Are they a mix of seasoned veterans and digital natives? How much collective experience and knowledge do they have about your market?

A few years ago a car dealership located in Philadelphia hired an agency with limited knowledge of the Philadelphia/South Jersey region. While commuting from South Jersey to Philadelphia is common, chances are, if you’re a South Jersey native you’re not crossing the bridge into the Pennsylvania suburbs to buy a car, you’re making that purchase in your own neighborhood.

It seemed the agency simply targeted a 25-mile radius around Philadelphia and ran ads. By not targeting the specific segment of population that was truly likely to purchase from the dealer, and not running ads on the right days at the right time, they wasted resources and the dealership’s media budget.

People notice when advertising doesn’t feel authentic or true, particularly when it comes to their hometown experience. It doesn’t ring a bell; it clangs instead.

Working with a local team of well-seasoned experts will help you connect with your customers, because they know the subtle differences in your particular market. 

If you’d like to continue this conversation, feel free to reach out to me directly at

About the author

Amy Jo Haven-Reynolds is the founder and president of haven. Since 2006, haven has helped its clients accelerate sales performance by integrating business and consumer data science with creative brand building.

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