Agency vs freelance vs in-house marketing: What makes sense for you?
Is it time for a marketing push but your team doesn’t have the experience or resources to pull it off? It’s not a good position to be in, and it’s even worse when you don’t know where to go for help.
So do you hire a marketing agency, growth marketing agency, a freelancer, or turn to the job boards to expand your in-house team?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Each option comes with pros, cons, and everything else in between. However, there’s one thing that they all have in common: great talent is hard to find.
Web developers, copywriters, designers, and project managers’ LinkedIn/email inboxes are always getting lit up with recruiters trying to lure them away. Top talent has the luxury of being picky about where they work, making things even harder for you.
Firstly, before you hire anyone, take the time to weigh up what’s right for your business beyond these next few weeks.
A cautious approach is always best, but be wary of becoming overly cautious. It’s easy to fall into the trap of making decisions based purely on ease and price – not outcomes. The thing is, every option is going to cost money.
And as you’ve acknowledged that you need help, you could argue that not hiring anyone – choosing to remain in your current position – is also costing you money…
Look deeply into your projects’ requirements and the possible directions they could take. You don’t want to be forking out sheds of money while struggling to find jobs to keep your new recruit busy. And you don’t want to scare off a good freelancer with way too much work, only to find yourself back at the starting point within a matter of days.
All four options are completely different working relationships:
- Freelancers usually just do what they’re asked to do without asking too many questions.
- A new in-house recruit may take months to settle before you can count on them. Plus, it’s a constant battle to keep them happy at your company.
- A marketing agency will take care of your marketing, but they won’t ask you too many tough questions or challenge you in any other areas of your business.
- Growth marketing agencies take a more “hands-on” approach and move fast. They’ll go beyond marketing and make changes to your business model/product if they believe it’s needed to help you grow.
So what are the pros and cons of each?
Hiring a freelancer
A freelancer seems like the easiest option as they’re usually the cheapest. BUT, if you’re just looking for the quickest, cheapest option – you’re in deep trouble. There are incredible freelancers out there but be prepared to carry out a number of interviews to find the right person, as there are plenty of time wasters.
The pros of hiring a freelancer
- You have a sea of specialist talent to choose from.
- They are cheaper than agencies (unless you’re hiring a world-renowned superstar).
- You’re not tied down to a long contract.
- In most cases, they have flexible schedules.
- They can work in-house or remotely.
- As it’s usually a short-term deal, they’ll just get the job done without asking too many questions.
The cons of hiring a freelancer
- It’s tough to find top-quality freelancers with proven results.
- Freelancers typically juggle multiple jobs at a time.
- You’ll need to teach them your way of working, and they may expect you to follow theirs.
- If you continually hire freelancers throughout the year, it may be cheaper to hire someone in-house.
- Your plan may creep outside your freelancer’s skill set as your marketing strategy evolves, so you may need to hire more freelancers. And they need to be monitored closely – every day – to stop them from treading on each other’s toes.
- Some freelancers may exaggerate their skill sets to land the gig, and you’ll pick up the pieces should they hit the wall.
- You have no backup if they are sick or unable to work for any reason.
Assess freelancers thoroughly before hiring, ask about their process, ask for them to share examples of work similar to your project’s needs, and check their availability over the period you need them. You don’t want to lose them during the week that you need them the most.
Hiring an in-house team
Wouldn’t it be nice to have an all-star reliable, experienced, “growth guru-ninja” sat at a desk in your office ready for work each day? Well, this is what every company wants. They’re just so hard to find…
And even if you do find them, it’s an expensive and time-consuming process to get them on your books.
BUT, they are out there. You’ll need to write and post a captivating job description, go through a hundred CVs, interviews, on-boarding, training, and just hope they can deliver the goods once all is said and done. (Or there’s always the recruitment agency route but that’s more money, too.)
Hiring in-house staff is by far the toughest route to get help, but if you find the right person – it’s by far the most rewarding option.
Pros of hiring in-house
- They’re an investment in your company’s future.
- Securing top talent will elevate your company’s standards.
- They’ll save you money over the years if they stop you searching for freelancers or agencies every time you need to plug a gap.
Cons of hiring in-house
- It’s a long and expensive process to hire someone and there’s no guarantee they’ll stick around.
- They’ll need to learn your way of working.
- It may take them a while to get up to speed to achieve your goals.
- Recruiters are always out to snatch top talent. You’ll need to keep employees satisfied with a decent salary, company benefits, and a thriving work culture.
- In-house can tend to coast through work and stop innovating if they get too comfy or bored – causing their skill sets to quickly become outdated. It’s a balancing act to keep them happy and motivated at your company.
Hiring a marketing agency
Visiting a slick-looking marketing agency’s website and clicking the “Work with Us” button feels great: it removes all the stress, worry, and time that comes from hiring staff or looking to find that perfect diamond in the rough in a sea of freelancers.
A marketing agency gives you years of combined experience and a project manager to achieve your marketing goals to take the bulk of the work off your hands.
The pros of hiring a marketing agency
- You’re working with a team of generalists with varying different skill sets.
- They will take on every project you need.
- There’s no training required on your part.
- You won’t need to spend huge amounts of time on project management.
The cons of hiring a marketing agency
- They are expensive.
- You’re paying for help from experts but a generalist team – by definition – aren’t experts.
- They work on a long contract basis, which is difficult to get out of should you not be happy with them.
- They’ll only market your business – they don’t look to reshape your business for growth.
- No specialty in a particular area, they’ll take any project that comes their way.
- Their solution is always a one-size-fits-all plan.
Hiring a growth marketing agency
The explosion of growth marketing agencies is due to the fact that regular marketing agencies had developed a reputation for taking too much time and money – without delivering measurable results. Lots of agencies failed to keep up with social media, new methods, and what it takes to grow a business in today’s market.
The pros of hiring a growth marketing agency
- You’re getting years of specialist expertise at your disposal.
- Your key metrics will be identified and tested, so you’ll be in a good position at the end of a contract.
- They’ll only ever use a specialist to execute each task.
- They are set up to get results, avoiding the pitfalls of “normal marketing agencies”.
- Their process will be customized to fit your business’s goals.
The cons of hiring a growth marketing agency
- They are expensive.
- Hiring one can be a costly mistake if the agency doesn’t understand your business.
- You might need to take a few steps back in order to step forward. A growth marketing agency may ask you to make changes to your business in order to get results. (While this isn’t really a con, it can feel like one at first.)
So, if you’re yet to establish product-market fit or your key growth metrics, a normal marketing agency won’t do much for you. Speak to growth marketing agencies that can show you case studies and proven results for businesses similar to yours.
Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer: it all depends on where your company is – right now – and where you want to go.
We always expect people to take a “try before you buy” approach before working with us, so we offer 10-minute teardowns to see if they like the way we work. Request your teardown today to get our feedback on your website, marketing strategy or sales funnel.