We’ve worked with countless clients since we first opened our digital doors five years ago, and we’re thankful for every opportunity. As with everything in life, some were great, some were good and some were not a great fit. Every financial advisor we’ve worked with has wanted one thing: to make their voice heard in new and engaging ways.
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As a financial advisor, it’s up to you to determine who you partner with to run the marketing for your firm. Marketing teams look different depending on the size of your firm, but most of them are either in-house, agency or a combination of both.
The cost of marketing your firm can vary, and it’s not all dollars and cents. That’s why we compiled this list of questions to help you determine whether you should hire an in-house marketing coordinator, a marketing agency.
Click here to watch the webinar “The 20 Most Common Marketing Problems Advisors Face (and How to Solve Them)”
The difference between hiring internally and hiring an agency largely comes down to control. When you hire internally, you are the boss and you get to call all the shots – when they work, how they work, what they work on…
When you hire an agency, you are the client, which gives you a different level of control. Yes, you can fire the agency at any time, but working with an agency is more like a partnership than an employer/employee relationship.
Agencies have their own internal processes, which means your requests may not go exactly as you want.
For instance, if you have an internal marketing person and you say, “I need a fact sheet on our fee schedule by tomorrow,” then you will probably get a fact sheet on your fee schedule tomorrow.
But if you work with an agency and you say, “I need a fact sheet on our fee schedule by tomorrow,” your account manager’s response will probably be something like: “We’re pretty swamped today and tomorrow. Let me run that by our team and get back to you. Would Friday work?” Or even, “We can do it for you by tomorrow, but we’ll have to charge you a rush fee of $XXXX to make it work.”
This can be a pro and a con. Many of our clients really appreciate that we come with built-in processes, because that means they don’t have to worry about creating and enforcing their own.
If you have a last-minute request that needs a fast turnaround, what are you going to do?
Let’s say, for instance, that you have a webinar in an hour and you just realized that the ebook you plan to share with attendees afterward has the wrong CTA at the end of it. You meant to get it updated last week and forgot until now.
If you have an internal team, then you’re fine. You can tell them to put everything else on hold so they can work on your latest request.
If you work with an agency, then you might be okay or you might not. Agencies have multiple clients and if they are busy, you might not be able to get it in time.
We do our best at Three Crowns to accommodate emergency turnarounds when we can (if it’s not a frequent issue), but it all depends on the size of the job. In this case, there’s a good chance we’d be able to update the PDF and get it back to you, but it’s not guaranteed.
As we mentioned above, some agencies charge extra for “rush jobs” when they have to push back deadlines on other work to accommodate a request such as this. While they may be able to take care of it, it will probably cost you.
At Three Crowns, our clients hire us largely to produce content for them, which we love doing. But they also come to us because we can help them think through the strategy on any given campaign – or even create campaigns from scratch.
Our team has helped countless advisors (and fintech firms) with everything from branding to writing blogs to running Google ads to creating lead magnets. On top of that, we are constantly watching what other firms we don’t work with are producing. As a result, we have an eye on what everyone else is doing and a good idea of how it performs.
Add in the fact that our founder, Johnny Sandquist, spent 12 years at Orion, and I led content teams at Mineral Interactive and Carson Group for five years collectively, and you get a group that has a pretty good understanding of the industry. Not to toot our own horn, but we like to think we bring a good deal of strategic knowledge to the work we do, and our clients appreciate that about us.
Unless you’re willing to spend some real money building out an experienced internal team, chances are you won’t be able to hire someone who can help you much with strategy.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that! Marketing associates are some of my favorite people (and can work miracles for you!). If you aren’t looking for input on your strategy, then you could probably do pretty well paying a recent college grad $50k per year to run your marketing ops.
But if you want to hire an internal person with real know-how, you probably won’t find anyone for less than $80k (if that).
For comparison, our clients generally pay anywhere from $60k to $120k per year for our help with content creation and strategy.
When you look at something as simple as a fact sheet, it’s easy to gloss over all the work that went into producing it. Creating a fact sheet requires a team of people/skills, including:
Writer – The writer takes the idea and turns it into words.
Subject matter expert – The SME is the one who makes sure the fact sheet is accurate and doesn’t say anything that will get you in trouble with the SEC. This is typically the advisor.
Designer – After the fact sheet is written, you want a designer who understands the impact of design on readability.
Creative director – While not a necessity, if you want your collateral to all be on-brand, then you need someone with a consistent creative vision who can make sure everything looks good.
Digital marketing specialist – After your fact sheet is created, you’ll probably want it posted on your website or added to an automation somewhere in your email marketing system. The digital marketing specialist sets that up and makes sure it’s working.
If you hire an agency, you get a team of people with a variety of specialties. For instance, if you hired Three Crowns to create a fact sheet for you, the process would start with Amber, our project manager, who would set a timeline and assign a team to work on the project. Then she’d pull in:
Johnny or myself, who would outline the project for the team
Justine, our content writer, who would write the actual content
Carter, our designer, who would make it look beautiful, and
Sidney, our account manager, who would coordinate with your team to make sure we get it done right and on time.
On the other hand, if you have a one- or two-person internal marketing team, you’re counting on a much smaller team to handle all of those roles. And as much as we love internal marketing people, that’s a lot to expect out of one or two people.
If you’re like most advisors, you’re a pretty busy person.
If you hire an internal marketing associate, you’ll likely have to be very involved in everything from ideation to creation to check-ins to approval. Most marketing people don’t know the industry super well, at least not for the first few years, so they often need a lot of guidance to get their job done right.
If you work with an agency, you can be as involved as you want. At Three Crowns, we have anywhere from one to four check-in calls per month where we review everything we’re doing and discuss what’s coming up. On top of that, we communicate via email when content is ready to be reviewed.
But once we create a content plan and you approve it, we take it and run with it. How involved you want to be with it from that point on is up to you. You get final sign-off before anything is published, but many of our clients prefer to be removed from much of the process beyond that.
Not gonna lie, marketing can get expensive. It’s good to know what costs you’re looking at upfront.
According to GlassDoor, the current average total pay for a marketing coordinator is $52,088. Of course, that varies depending on where you are located. Here in Omaha, we’re on the lower end, but if you’re somewhere on a coast, expect to pay more.
Beyond salary alone, benefits can easily exceed $20,000 per year per employee, not to mention employment tax, so in the end, you could end up paying around $75,000 per year for an internal marketing coordinator.
Keep in mind, if your internal coordinator outsources social media or design or something else, there would be additional marketing costs.
Agency costs vary based on specialization, location, services rendered and more, so it’s hard to give an average, but you’re probably looking at spending anywhere from $2,500 to $12,000 per month, or $30,000 to $144,000 per year.
If you’re just looking for SEO or social media or content writing, then you’re probably looking on the lower end. If you need a little bit of everything, then expect it to be more.
At Three Crowns, most of our clients fall between $60,000 and $120,000 per year. Our offerings vary, but most retainers include the option of anything you want to create: blogs, social media content, fact sheets, ebooks, videos, emails, websites and more.
The answer to that complex question depends on one thing: your needs.
Here’s a quick pros and cons of each to help you consider your options:
In our experience, we see a lot of successful firms take a hybrid approach, where they hire an agency and also have an in-house person who acts as marketing coordinator. This might be a junior advisor with a background in marketing or even the director of first impressions. They mostly just act as the point person to help with any questions the agency might have.
This often works best for everyone involved. It can be difficult for us as an agency to hold your team accountable, but if you have someone internal who acts as the marketing advocate, then both sides can stay on task much more easily.
Whatever you decide to do, it’s important that you feel comfortable and heard.
We’re always up for meeting new people and would love to talk about how we might be able to help your firm grow. Click here to schedule a consultation.