Outsourcing your community to a marketing agency is a terrible idea.
There are many, many, reasons for this. 7 of the most important are:
- Agencies are terrible at developing communities. Very few successful communities have been created by agencies. Try to find successful communities started by agencies. There aren't many. Agencies with no experience in developing communities are applying their marketing background to a community. It never succeeds.
- The community should be integrated with your organization. You shouldn't let another agency speak directly to your customers on your behalf. A community should be closely integrated with your organization. You should learn how to directly interact with members and find out how to stimulate activity.
- You give the agency far too much power. Giving a community to a third party locks you in to that company. It gives that 3rd party far too much power over you. You don't want that. It's bad for business. Can you fire an agency if they have built the key relationships with members of your audience?
- Agencies lack your expertise. No-one knows as much about your products and services as you do. Agencies wont be able to speak as confidentally about your products/services as your own staff. Or, worse, agencies will have to keep checking with you and wait hours before responding to simple questions.
- Agencies lack your passion. Agencies wont have your passion. They will be working with many different communities at any time. Members wont get the service they need. The individuals directly involved with share the passion as your staff. Members will notice this.
- Agencies cost too much. It doesn't cost much to develop a community, unless you hire an agency. Agencies are expensive and have little expertise in developing a community. It's more cost effective (and productive) to learn how to build a community yourself or find someone that does.
- Handovers don't work. You are naive you think a community can easily be handed over. If you weren't able to start a community yourself, it's naive to think you will be able to manage it yourself. What extra staff or expertise are you bringing in to manage a community? If all you needed was a handover document to manage a community, you would have developed it yourself
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