Last week we broke down the pros and cons of hiring an in house employee vs. an independent contractor. We shared examples of gaps in your business that independent contractors can fill and explained how in recent years, remote work options and the desire for flexibility have given rise to more options than ever when it comes to who and how you hire.
This week we are continuing on with this theme, particularly when it comes to the management of your businesses marketing. For many business owners, marketing is an area they recognize they lack the expertise to effectively manage and choose to leave that particular challenge to the professionals. But once they have made that decision, the next is choosing the right person or agency to partner with which brings us to today’s theme: Agency vs. Freelander – Who should your business hire?
In the past, businesses would typically look to their one or two local marketing agencies, choose one and call it a day. But with modern technology, proximity is no longer a necessity. Suddenly, instead of a couple local options, you have highly qualified freelancers and professionally packed, world class agencies at your fingertips ready to serve your business no matter the distance. So how do you choose? You start by looking inward, NOT outward.
What does your business actually need?
When you go to the grocery store one of two things usually happen. Scenario #1 – You know exactly what you need, you make a list, head to the store, get the items on your list, check out and then you head home with everything required to make a week’s worth of well-balanced meals. Then in the second scenario – you head to the store without a plan of attack, randomly browsing and throwing items in your cart until inevitably you have a cart full of random items with no rhyme or reason leading to makeshift meals and more trips to the grocery store for forgotten items. With the latter option you end up spending more money and time than you would have with the former. You also end up unsatisfied when it comes to cooking because you don’t have the right ingredients for a full meal but rather odds and ends that don’t add up to much.
Are you wondering where we are going with this? Hold tight!
When you have to “shop” for your business, wasting time and money is a big “no-no”. Your time is valuable and your hard earned money is not something you spend lightly. On top of that, you want the satisfaction of seeing results when you do decide to invest your time and money. Much like a trip to the grocery store, taking an inventory of what tools and resources you already have, creating a specific list of what you want, and taking a look at your “grocery” agency budget is going to ensure you can be the most effective shopper. But if you start “shopping” without a plan you will spend money you didn’t plan on, get stuck with a service you didn’t actually need, and then be left frustrated when you don’t get the results you wanted.
So before you start shopping here are some questions you should answer:
- What is my marketing budget?
- What is my business lacking?
- What business goals do I want to achieve?
- Are there any specific marketing strategies that my business is already implementing effectively?
- Are there any specific marketing strategies that I know my business is not able to effectively implement without professional help?
Once you have the answers to these questions you can move on to understanding who can best serve your business.
When Your Business Should Choose a Freelancer
First things first, what is a freelancer? A freelancer is an independent contractor who is self-employed and offers specific services that they are able to personally provide without the support of additional staff or subcontractors. While there are many individual skills that fall within the wide array of marketing professions, freelancers typically specialize in one or two areas in which they have extensive expertise.
For example, a marketing freelancer may specialize in graphic design and branding but not offer any other services outside of those. Another example would be a freelancer who specializes in social media marketing but does not work outside that space.
Freelancers are extremely knowledgeable in their field as they dedicate the entirety of their career and professional learning to specific genres of marketing without the need to keep informed on the industry at large. As self-employed individuals, they are also able to offer flexibility and timeliness while being cost-effective for singular focused projects and services. However, should your marketing needs be much broader and require more than a couple specific services, a freelancer would not be the best choice.
This is where identifying what you actually need will come in when considering a freelancer.
Do you already have a solid brand guide with a great in house ad director but your business has absolutely no social media presence? Do you feel like outside of this service your marketing needs are being effectively met? Then hiring a social media freelancer would be a great option for your business.
On the other hand, is your business feeling the sting of multiple potholes in your marketing efforts? Do you need help building your brand story? Do you need help with ads and website development? If you’re being honest, did you answer our “what does your business actually need” question with “I have no idea”? Then a freelancer is not the answer for you.
When Your Business Should Hire a Marketing Agency
For many small business owners, hiring a marketing agency may seem out of the question because they assume they cannot afford one or that their business simply isn’t “big enough”. On the contrary, there is an entire genre of marketing agencies that specialize in small businesses. Stay with us as we break down these myths and tell you how hiring a marketing agency can be the solution to your small businesses marketing dilemma.
Before we go any further, let’s talk about what a marketing agency actually IS. Marketing agencies vary in size and some will specialize in specific industries but all marketing agencies are made up of teams of professionals who bring their individual skill sets together to work as a single high powered machine providing a wide range of services to clients and ensuring all aspects of your businesses marketing are working together in harmony. These teams will include designers, programmers, copywriters, social media specialists, and project managers just to name a few.
If you are looking for more than a couple one off services, hiring a marketing agency will be the best choice for your business. While you could hire multiple freelancers, you would have to add work to your own plate by serving as a project manager to ensure that they work together and generate consistent messaging across their various projects. When you hire a marketing agency, you are relieving yourself of work and responsibility, while handing over all of the moving marketing parts to a well-oiled and experienced team who is well versed in the planning and execution of marketing campaigns without requiring additional support or supervision.
While a marketing agency will be a more significant investment, a professional agency will be able to show you your ROI through their finished products and the reporting of measurable strategies. When considering the value of your investment, you should also consider the combined years of experience and vast talent and skill that will be working for your business. Most businesses could not afford to hire even a fraction of the experienced staff that would be managing your marketing efforts through an agency.
It All Comes Down to YOU
Remember, when it comes to filling the marketing holes in your business, look inward before looking outward. Take time to audit your business needs and make a list BEFORE you shop. Knowing what you need, what you want and what you can afford will help you save time and energy while allowing you to make the best decisions for your business.
Are you interested in learning more about the agency experience? Do you have your list and you’re ready to shop? We would love to connect with you and tell you more about how an agency can help your business achieve their goals. Check out all of the services we offer and connect with us to learn more about all of the experienced professionals we have ready to support your business!