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Digital Marketing: Should You Hire a Contractor or an Agency?

Most business owners have to outsource for marketing opportunities and campaigns. While some large businesses can hire dedicated marketing staff to handle the task, smaller companies might not have the budget. 

Deciding who to hire can be a monumental task. Marketing agencies and subcontracting companies have different approaches and provide various benefits to the business, but those might not be visible at first glance.

We’re here to help you decide between the two and explain what each choice can offer.

Women working at a digital marketing agency

Working with a Digital Marketing Agency

Many companies have excellent results when hiring a marketing company to handle every part of the project from start to finish. Larger businesses with marketing teams on-staff can benefit from hiring an outside company to collaborate and get better results than making a campaign themselves.

Pros of Working with a Digital Marketing Agency

Here are some of the pros of working with a marketing agency for your marketing strategy:

Experience

Agencies have used experienced professionals to handle similar projects in the past. When hiring an agency, look for those that have worked with companies in your field or industry. They are more likely to know the ins and outs of a company’s needs than a contractor that has a more limited scope.

Comprehensive Skills

Since agencies can provide a comprehensive marketing campaign on their own, you’re benefiting from a vast array of talents, such as graphic design, content creation, software development, web-based programming, and even integration with existing media content. 

With such a holistic marketing approach, it’s easy to see how an agency can benefit a small company that lacks such talent on their team.

Hands-Off Approach

One significant benefit of hiring an agency is the lack of management requirements. Once you provide an agency with a project, owners don’t need to waste time managing external employees or require status reports. Agencies usually have excellent internal management and can handle the entirety of the project on their own with minimal input from outside sources.

Adaptable

Agencies also can adapt better to your specific needs and requirements. If the project is not doing well, they have other staff that can take over. This saves you time and money since there is no need to change appointments, contracts, or personnel on your end.

When you hire an agency, know that you’re getting a holistic approach to marketing. You only need to know the bare essentials of marketing and leave the details up to the pros. 

Team working at a digital marketing agency

Cons of Working with a Digital Marketing Agency

Here are some important considerations when working with a digital marketing agency:

Longer Contracts

Agencies often require long-term contracts to provide meaningful results. These contracts, which usually last for 12 months, mean that you can’t switch over to a different agency or contractor without incurring a penalty in the process. 

Cost

On average, an agency is more expensive than contracting out a company for a singular task or position. The increased costs stem from their in-house management and development requirements.

Slower Communication

Agencies can also be slower to respond to inquiries and changes. Since an agency often has many clients at once and handles different projects weekly, it can be more challenging to put in a request and see it completed quickly. You will usually have to wait at least a week for a requested deliverable.

Onboarding

Finally, agencies will also require a bit more of your time at the start of the project to ensure vision alignment and proof of concept. A business owner will need to appoint an internal contact for the agency to begin the project. This is in contrast to an internal team or a contractor that needs less management time to start but will require more attention overall as the project matures.

Digital marketing contractor working at desk

Working with a Marketing Contractor

An independent contractor can be an affordable choice for a smaller company that needs to get things done quickly. A contractor often has excellent knowledge in the field (or fields) a company’s team lacks and can integrate with the business to provide consulting, design, or help complete a project.

Pros of Marketing Contractors

Here are some pros of working with a marketing contractor:

Fewer Clients

Since a contractor often works for a smaller number of companies at once, they’ll be able to delegate more time and attention to your product-specific needs. This attention to detail allows them to educate the rest of the team for future reference and provide expertise in their specific area.

Last-Minute Changes

While agencies follow internal management plans and can have scheduling conflicts, a contractor is often available for last-minute changes. They can also finish a single part of the project faster because they don’t need to juggle multiple clients at once.

Shorter Contracts

Contracts with a subcontracting company or individual often have shorter duration requirements or clauses. If the project isn’t doing well, a business owner can replace the contractor on much shorter notice and start looking for a replacement relatively soon. With an agency, this might not be possible for a long time.

Man typing on laptop

Cons of Marketing Contractors

Here are a few considerations when working with marketing contractors:

Limited Knowledge

A contractor might be an expert in their field, but they often don’t have the knowledge and experience to handle every project aspect. Omnichannel marketing is rarely a one-person or even one-team job, and agencies can develop a strategy much faster.

Unaccounted Costs

You might need more than one contractor to get a project done. More expensive experts can quickly accrue additional costs that a small company might not be prepared for. 

Scheduling Conflicts

Their personal schedules also present a significant limiting factor. Should they be unable to work for a while, such as taking a vacation, you’ll have difficulty advancing with the project without them.

Lack of Cohesion

If a company hires more contractors at once, they risk losing cohesiveness in their original strategy. Contractors will take away from a business’ available management time and resources, while the results might not show for a while.

Weighing the Options

When you decide to hire a contractor or an agency to jumpstart your next big marketing project, weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each option wisely. Even though they serve the same purpose, the result might vary depending on how well you do your research and whether you find a choice that suits your company culture and vision.

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