OK, now that I have your attention let’s explore the answer to that question carefully.
Who cares? You care! You have to make the right decision when it comes to how and when to hire an agency versus freelancer. Bottom line: What’s right for one company may not be right for another. What’s right for one project in the same company may not be right for another project. So to make the right decision, there are three critical areas you might consider reviewing.
1. Purpose: Clarify your underlying purpose.
Must you hire the cheapest because you have a tight budget? Should you choose the most expensive because high cost usually means high quality? Do you want a one-off job started and completed by the weekend? Are you looking to establish a long-term relationship with a marketing expert who will support your overall business growth?
When you know your purpose for hiring outside marketing expertise you can begin to make the right decisions.
In most instances, an agency will be interested in a long-term (at least 6 months) engagement with you. This is because of the amount of resources invested into understanding your brand and training their staff to do a good job for you. If your project or needs are short-term or sporadic, a freelancer may best suite you.
2. Cost: Is it really cost or is it more about value for money?
Many freelancers charge less than established businesses. This is true in any sphere of business. Low overheads can lead to lower prices. But, the leading names in any business, many of whom are independent contractors, do not charge based on their overheads, their fees reflect such factors as their track record, the demands of each project they take on, and their current order list.
Link your purpose to both your intended outcome and your budget. Then decide where you get greatest value for money.
If you have a single project that you have already defined, or that you can define with some support from the expert you hire, then deciding on value for money is much easier. If the project is simple and straightforward, so you won’t need to oversee the actions they take, then a freelancer may be the right answer.
Your options for hiring a freelancer may also vary because you can hire domestically or overseas. Depending on the urgency of need your business has daily the change in time zones may or may not present a conflict. It’s also important to note that many freelancers may be part-timers who want to boost their income. If those factors are unimportant, you have a simple decision to make.
If, on the other hand, you are looking for a long-term business relationship, or you can’t define your marketing projects clearly, then an agency may deliver greater value for money.
Established agencies expect to show prospective clients how they will deliver value for money, so they are happy to win a new client’s confidence before the contract is signed. They are typically more engaged in your strategic endeavors and focused on outcomes. Another advantage of an agency is the collective brainpower. You aren’t relying on your own ideas or the ideas of a single person, but rather a collective of ideas from various associates assigned to your account.
3. Quality and Comeback: What if?
Strong business relationships are built on trust. Trust is earned. Full-time marketing professionals want to grow their own business by helping you to grow yours. Successful marketing agencies (and first class freelancers) deliver high quality in all they do. Quality is not just about great visuals, powerful copy, and on-time delivery. Quality is also about advising clients on the best media to deliver the greatest likelihood of success for that particular marketplace and the buyer personas the client wants to attract, interest and convert.
Successful marketers remove the “what ifs” whenever they can, and they provide guarantees of workmanship and deadlines that help build that trust. When more than half of all businesses outsource their marketing, to some extent, there is a running supply of prospective clients for marketing agencies and freelancers. There is also a running supply of agencies and freelancers for clients to consider. The savvy client will choose wisely.
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Sonja Crystal Williams is the Co-Founder at Go Getter Marketing Group, Inc. — a digital marketing, social media, and branding agency with offices in Atlanta and Los Angeles. Keep up with her latest articles and tips on Twitter or Instagram @sonjacrystal.