Making the right decisions when it comes to marketing can ultimately define the success or failure of your business. Having a strong team behind you helping to push forward with your vision is essential, and like many things in life there are multiple routes which lead to Rome.
To get where you need to be going, you will typically be faced with choosing between these two options:
- Hiring the services of a marketing agency, or
- Hiring a freelance contractor.
In this article, we will go over each option in detail, highlighting the pros and cons of making use of either.
What is a Marketing Agency?
On the face of it this seems like a fairly obvious question, however this umbrella term covers a range of agency flavours including digital, print, branding, PR and advertising. Some agencies will offer a combination of the above services, whilst others will specialise entirely in one service.
Agency sizes various tremendously, from small boutique outfits with 4 or 5 staff to multi-national firms with thousands of employees.
Typically, an agency will work with their clients to produce a long-term marketing strategy, providing project delivery and support via a hierarchy of account directors, managers and other specialists.
Pros of Hiring a Marketing Agency
- The clearest pro of hiring a marketing agency is that you get a co-ordinated team working on your project with dedicated project management. This usually leads to smoother delivery, and with more hands-on deck there will be more creative input
- Marketing agencies can also have vast experience in different areas of marketing and would get to work in less time and with the right strategies, without trial and error moves. This can lead to a significantly improved ROI on your marketing spend
- Reliability is a major plus – if any team members fall ill there will be other members of staff available to take the slack.
Cons of Hiring A Marketing Agency
- Costs associated with agencies are generally considerably higher than taking onboard a freelancer. This is understandable, as you are paying for the team and their expertise, not just for the work of an individual. If you are a smaller client, you may find that a limited budget doesn’t go very far
- Communication can sometimes be problematic with marketing agencies, especially if they are busy with several clients. You may find that you have to book time in far in advance if you would like an update or to make changes to the strategy
- Less flexibility – you may find you don’t have the opportunity to be as hands on as you would ideally like. An agency will not likely be open to sudden shifts in strategy from month to month, which can be problematic if your business is going through a transformational period
Who is a Freelance Contractor?
A freelance marketing contractor is an individual who is highly specialised in a particular field, such as search engine optimisation, copywriting, content production, email marketing and much more. Some freelancers are also experts in a specific field such as medicine. Hiring the services of a freelance contractor is very popular among start-up businesses as the associated costs are usually lower than working with an agency.
Freelance contractors are sometimes hired particularly for some specific, ad-hoc marketing campaigns. Making use of a freelance contractor, however, comes with its advantages and disadvantages.
Pros of Hiring A Freelance Contractor
- The wealth of knowledge from the numerous experiences in the marketing field is what makes a freelance contractor stand out. Some have proven, successful track records and can get to work very quickly.
- Finding a freelancer who knows your field inside out means you have to spend less time on educating your team leaving you feeling confident in the work they are producing
- Faster reaction times: if you need something done urgently, or are looking for quick updates, freelancers will usually get back to you faster than an agency will
Cons of Hiring A Freelance Contractor
- Freelance contractors can only provide competent services in the marketing area they are specialists in, so they are limited in providing you with a full array of marketing services. For instance, a contractor who specialises in pay per click is unlikely to deliver search engine optimisation as an additional service. For a full-service digital marketing agency, this wouldn’t be a problem
- Finding quality freelancers can be an issue, even though there are platforms available to make this easier. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to assess how good a freelancer really is until they’ve been tried and tested. Most agencies have reputation, case studies and client references to fall back on. Whilst these can be found with some freelancers, they are fewer and further in between
- Accounting headaches – IR35. With the treasury clamping down on IR35 regulations, you may find that your newly appointed contractor is in fact classified as an employee, in which case you will be spending more than you initially though you would
The agency vs. contractor debate has been playing out for years and years, although it’s never been quite as poignant as it is now. With an exponential growth of entrepreneurial, talented individuals opting to go self-employed there is now a larger, ever evolving pool of quality contractors who can bring a great deal of value to both broad and more niche marketing projects.
That doesn’t mean to say agencies have had their day – far from it. Agencies still have several merits, and when it comes to needing a variety of resources they can’t be beaten.
For businesses looking for the best of both worlds, however, there is a third option – a hybrid agency such as Fratelli. Hybrid agencies provide the same account management and strategy development you’d receive with a traditional agency, whilst building teams of specialist, expert contractors who are positioned to deliver top quality campaigns.
For more information get in touch and we will show you what your team could look like.
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