Let’s explore the topic of specialist consultant vs digital marketing agency; which is best? As an agency, we’re maybe a little biased and we can hardly claim to be impartial, but we wanted to provide some thoughts on what we feel is best for the client.
Here are the key things to consider to ensure you make the right choice.
What’s the Task?
Are you looking for the creation and implementation of an organic search strategy for a business with little in-house resource? If so, an SEO agency with a team covering many different skillsets would reign supreme here. As you’d need an SEO expert, content marketing specialist and outreach and digital PR consultant to ensure a well-rounded strategy; and is just not viable to expect one person to posses all of these skills.
On the other hand, if you were seeking a small one-off project that was very niche you may opt to get a quote from a specialist freelancer. In some cases, this may be a good route for you.
Also, bear in mind that many agencies like ourselves also provide one-off project support and troubleshooting for in-house teams on a regular basis with the ability to implement wider projects in future.
We don’t believe in cross-skilling and believe for people to be their best they need to focus.
A freelancer may specialise in say paid search on Google Ads. You may think that’s the best channel for you and engage them.
The truth is that there may be a better strategy for you that involves multiple channels. This could be a multi-channel paid media strategy across paid search, shopping, display and paid social.
An agency can look at your goals and challenge your brief so you get the correct strategy advice.
Look – at Koozai – we’re all for specialisms. We ARE NOT a jack of all trades – nor will we ever be. We know what we’re damn good at and we stick to it. That’s SEO, content, PR and paid media.
These are all components of what we’d call an integrated digital marketing strategy. They all work together in harmony to hit our clients target customers at every stage of the funnel in a sophisticated multi-channel strategy using A.I. led intelligence and our predictive purchase process. This requires many skills.
Some specialist freelancers have honed their craft over many years and absolutely know their bag. For example, you may hire an analytics consultant for a very specific analytics-related implementation. But they again know their limits.
What we don’t suggest in most cases is having everything under one roof on a ‘full service’ basis. What we mean by this is everything from branding, to web design, development, digital marketing, ecommerce, hosting, etc. It’s like a GP trying to do brain surgery.
Sometimes it comes down to budget. In theory, agencies have more overheads and can be more expensive, but like most things, cost shouldn’t be the primary factor here.
Freelancers can have lower overheads and provide specialist project support, but again they won’t be investing the same amount into staff training and development to stay at the cutting edge like most agencies will.
Think about service over cost in most cases and use the best you can afford to get the job done right.
Many agencies like ourselves have day rates that are extremely competitive, even when compared to specialist consultants.
With a freelancer you’re hiring one person. If there is any sick or that person is away or on holiday, you have no support.
With an agency you have a structure and a hierarchy of support, from an Account Manager to the specialists working on your project.
Its important to have the backup, redundancies and handover processes in place to ensure key knowledge is always retained on your account.
Economies of Scale
Imagine an agency like Koozai using all the best of breed tools across owned, earned and paid media. As an agency, we invest tens of thousands in the best tools so our team can do their best work for our clients.
A specialist freelancer just won’t have access to the same tools and insights that an agency will and as such this can impact the output.
For many SMEs and larger businesses, an individual alone is not going to be bogged down with the sheer gravity of the tasks at hand. After all, they are selling their time and they only have so much of it.
Agencies like ourselves plan resource well ahead of time (in fact we plan at least 12 months in advance with roadmaps for all clients) and scale up our resources accordingly.
We complete all work in-house to our award-winning processes and standards; retaining full control of work quality.
Many freelancers may need to outsource to other specialists for certain tasks. For example, an SEO consultant may require a content writer, a PR specialist (the list goes on), and this is where an agency comes in!
Chemistry is everything. We believe that its vital for long-lasting and fulfilling working relationships with our clients, as at the end of the day, we’re going to be speaking a lot! We suggest whether freelancer or agency, really take the time to make sure these are people you’d love to work with.
Whilst you’d think a freelancer may be best for specific in-house team support, you’d be surprised at just how agile and flexible an agency can be. We often work from our client’s offices and tailor packages to our clients needs. This includes looking at collaboration and ensuring the client maximises any internal resources and only procures the precise services they need from us to full any skills gaps and to maximise performance.
We aim to educate, be nimble and grow with our clients as we drive fantastic ROI.
Look at your requirements and if you’re in a position where you need multiple skills and a team of experts, then it is likely that investing in hiring an agency would be well worth it. This can be especially true for ambitious SME’s that don’t have full in-house marketing teams.
However, for many specialist tasks, depending on your ongoing requirements, consider a freelancer as an option. For example, a large business with a digital marketing department may hire a specialist PR consultant for a campaign as they just need a very precise set of skills in the short term, but always remember that agencies can be just a flexible and agile in quoting for specialist one-off in-house project support too.