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B2B Marketing Research: In-House or through a B2B Digital Marketing Agency?

If you have ample b2b sales experience but skimpy marketing expertise, hire a B2B digital marketing agency to do marketing research. 

© by Photo courtesy of Ken Research

Should You Hire a B2B Digital Marketing Agency to Do Marketing Research?

Can business owners underestimate the importance of marketing research? It happens all the time. When a business or a start-up is at the stage of conception, many of us want to start producing and selling quickly, regarding marketing research as an extravaganza that they may not need that much. When an established business is stalling, doing marketing research is also not an obvious answer for many business people. However, well-performed and accurately interpreted marketing research reveals new business opportunities and new locations to sell, lowers business risks, and helps create relevant products and services. The question is how to conduct marketing research? Who is qualified to do it?

It is very tempting for many businesses to think that anyone can do marketing research as anything can be googled nowadays. Here’s what we often see many businesses do, attempting to crack open the mystery of marketing research for them:

  • Burdening in-house sales reps with an add-on. In reality, it isn’t a good idea to assign your sales reps or office managers with an additional role without taking away their primary responsibilities. Part-time marketing won’t bring you a long-awaited breakthrough.
  • Hiring one marketer. Only if you’re a start-up, you can make do with one marketing person. For larger businesses, a team of marketers is needed to complement a sales team and produce a powerful result.
  • Investing in the marketing research tools. It goes along with the above variants where only one person is assigned the role of an entire department. If you buy premium accounts and efficient b2b lead generation software but don’t have employees skilled to make the most of it, you waste your resources, financial as much as human.
  • Expecting interns to do all the marketing work. It is true that many people do believe there is nothing difficult in doing marketing. It’s not rocket science indeed but you can delegate important duties to unqualified people and expect great results. Even if an intern has a marketing degree, she or he can start doing research for you and grow into a full-time marketer, and you will need to recognize and reward their efforts, but will they bring you quick results? Definitely, limited b2b sales experience can make no great advances for your business.    

What should you do then? Hiring a b2b digital marketing agency seems like the most obvious answer. And the simplest one. To do something well you need to do it often. To do marketing research, you need to know how to use both qualitative and quantitative research, how to design questionnaires and surveys and how to categorize the data. Remember that it is not enough to have data. You need to interpret it correctly and without bias. Before you make a decision how to do marketing research for your business, let’s look at arguments against it.


B2B Sales Experience is Overrated and the Costs are Skyrocketing

When mulling over the pros and cons of hiring a marketing agency, the pros are obvious: one large problem will be off your shoulders and you will definitely have more time for other important business-running stuff. Then the cons are boiled down to expenses and experience. The general take on hiring a b2b digital marketing agency is that for one, it will cost a business an arm and leg whereas marketing research can be done in-house at lesser cost. Second, what experience a marketing agency has that a business lacks. Besides, many agencies lack industry-specific experience. Let’s elaborate on these arguments and see what is true and false in this regard.

Costs and Expenses

The first argument against hiring an outside marketing team that comes to mind is high costs. You will pay not only for their services but any overhead expenses their marketing strategies will entail. Weighing payroll costs for an in-house team and expenses for hiring a marketing agency, many people believe the former in more business-savvy. It’s not true though. How did this stereotype come around? Most people compare an hourly rate for a marketing agency and a marketer and see that the latter is obnoxiously cheaper. A more realistic number for an in-house marketer salary will include expenses associated with hiring, training, and retaining an employee plus benefits (social security, pension, healthcare and taxes).

When you hire a marketing agency, they require you to pay:

  • 1-year retainer agreement

  • Inbound marketing monthly

  • B2B lead generation software

When you hire an employee, you pay:

  • 1-year core compensation package

  • Base salary

  • Benefits (social security, 401K/403B, healthcare, disability, pension, and time off)

  • Overhead costs (software, electricity, snacks, etc. for office)

There’s no need to give exact numbers here because they need to be adjusted to your business needs, location, and other important nuances. However, even a ballpark number of hiring an outside marketing agency will be lower than hiring an in-house marketer on a salary by 2.5 times.

If you think that you can’t afford hiring a marketing agency, you most probably can’t afford hiring an internal staff either. Annual investments in hiring an employee and an agency are very much comparable in favor of the latter one. But also keep in mind that mistakes cost money too. Before conducting marketing research, calculate the costs of both options for your specific situations. It is very likely that you can come up with some hybrid variants, for example, you hire a marketing agency to run quantitative research while your in-house team implements the result. Besides, a marketing agency definitely has their own in-house software and other benefits that you will not need to pay for. For example, Belkins developed Folderly to improve email deliverability, mailbox score, and background maintenance.

Experience and Expertise

Can all the information required for marketing research be looked up? Definitely. Anything can be googled and watched in a YouTube video clip. A five-minute search will reveal that market research and marketing research is not the same and you need to distinguish between client research and client persona research. But while you’re googling the quick start guide for creating market research surveys and questionnaires, keep in mind the effectiveness of such work. If your freshly-minted marketers spend all their work on how to properly conduct research, how will they interpret the results? Do they have knowledge to support their professional intuition? Do they have enough experience to choose between two seemingly similar choices? Anyone who was involved in any kind of research work will tell you that critical decisions are to be made at every step of marketing research. Simply to choose between quantitative and qualitative approaches requires knowledge and experience. Even if you know how to create a questionnaire and what questions to ask, are you sure you know that you don’t need quantitative research then?

Meanwhile, a marketing agency not just knows what to do but also how to do it quickly and efficiently. When they need to do a survey, they will sample not only your customers the way you have been doing all that time, exhausting your pool of respondents. They will gather a well-balanced sample for product satisfaction surveys based on the efficiency rather than convenience. Furthermore, an outside marketing team will be able to interpret the data without bias. Based on their informed recommendation, you will be able to make correct decisions and get return on investment. Besides, being a third party, a marketing agency will provide you with unclouded judgment and honest result.


Ready to Make Your Choice Now?

As a business with ample b2b sales experience, you may still lack marketing knowledge because it is a different area of expertise. And it is okay. No one can be skilled in all areas at once. In fact, running a business requires only one strong side. If your product is great, simply outsource all the other components of a successful business. If your company struggles to generate a strong flow of b2b lead generation, hire consultants. If you need help in qualifying sales leads you generate, it is fine too. When you notice your lack of in-depth marketing research, use a professional digital marketing agency and will never be sorry.