When you want to grow your business, you need marketing.
Marketing is how you connect your products and services with the people who can benefit from them. These days, a prospective customer is far more likely to find out about you by going online rather than visiting you in person – that’s true even for small, local businesses. And in that world, marketing is a must.
Many service-based businesses begin with no clear ideas about how the marketing will get done. Instead, they get started with a dedication to quality and customer service. Word of mouth starts to spread, and pretty soon they’ve got repeat business. Referrals may be enough to keep the momentum going.
Sooner or later, though, you need a consistent marketing strategy.
At this point, most small and mid-sized businesses look to outsourced marketing. Outsourcing marketing makes a lot of sense: It gives you the opportunity to move much faster while saving a lot of money. By contrast, it can take months and cost $7,779 a month to hire a single in-house marketing director.
Just like everything else, though, there’s a wrong way and a right way to outsource your marketing.
Let’s put two of the most popular options head to head:
Recruiting freelance marketers versus hiring a marketing agency.
Hiring Freelance Marketers: Pros
Hiring a freelance marketer is usually the #1 idea that comes to mind when a company is exploring marketing for the first time. There are hundreds of different platforms where you can find freelance marketers – and the terms on any one of these platforms usually strongly favor the business.
Let’s consider the biggest advantages of using freelance marketers:
On average, freelance marketers are dirt cheap. Just look at the names of the kinds of websites where you can hire them and you’ll see things like PeoplePerHour and Task Rabbit. It’s obvious, every step of the way, that the core of the value proposition is the money you’ll save. You may be able to get thousands of words of content for just a few pennies per word, or an entire month’s worth of social media posts for a little bit more.
It may take years for an in-house marketing team to fully ramp up, and even a trusted marketing agency usually needs a month or two to build momentum. On the other hand, most freelance marketers are hired for a small, more focused job, like a blog post (or a single month’s worth). If you already know what you want, you can get them started right away. You have the power to establish a firm deadline for every deliverable.
With a marketing agency, you’re typically getting a strategy with several different marketing techniques, all of them working together. What if you don’t feel ready for all that right now? If your immediate goal is to raise your visibility on Twitter, for example, you can probably find a freelance social media marketer who will be happy to set you up on that channel. You can try things and see what happens with little commitment.
Hiring Freelance Marketers: Cons
Although hiring a freelance marketer is within easy reach for most companies, it doesn’t usually turn out to be the long-term answer to their challenges. Over time, the problems with hiring freelance marketers tend to grow. If you know about them in advance, you can plan accordingly and protect your brand.
Here are the issues we notice again and again:
Reliability is the biggest problem when working with freelance marketers. In almost all cases, they can walk out at any time. Let’s face it: Not everyone loves social media marketing. They might just be doing it while they wait for their acting career to take off. That leaves you scrambling when your favorite freelance suddenly vanishes.
If you try to build an entire marketing team using only freelancers, you’ll probably end up tearing your hair out. Most platforms for hiring freelance writers put strict safeguards in place so you can’t get them to communicate or work together. Every freelancer adds more administrative work, like watching out for deadlines.
Some freelancers stick around and stand the test of time. With a little help, those few have the potential to be agency-level professionals. But most freelancers move on after a few years – in fact, most don’t even last one year. As a result, you may spend a lot of time searching if you want above-average results.
Hiring a Marketing Agency: Pros
A marketing agency isn’t as cheap as a freelancer, of course – just about nothing in life is. But if you consider the average costs of quality marketing that delivers results, an agency is still much better than an in-house team. As an agency client, you don’t have to worry about training, software, retention, or benefits. An agency should add very little complexity to your business while giving you measurable results aligned with your goals.
Like any other vendor you contract with, a marketing agency needs to show you that it’s getting you what you asked for. A modern marketing strategy delivered by professionals takes about three months to start gathering steam, but beyond that, the data should show you real results. By comparison, a freelancer’s compensation is totally separate from results, and they can always walk away – even in the middle of a big project.
Marketing isn’t just about marketing. To succeed, a team needs to have all the pieces in place. That doesn’t only mean knowing all the different tools and skills, like content marketing, social media, and email marketing. It also refers to the established processes, customer care, and project management skills that will get your marketing campaigns to the finish line no matter how complex they are, on time and within the budget you set.
Hiring a Marketing Agency: Cons
Hiring a marketing agency isn’t the perfect fit for everyone. Here are the chief complaints:
Even if your business is on a solid foundation, it doesn’t necessarily mean now is the best time for you to hire a marketing agency. In our experience, companies do best with the power of a marketing agency when they are already growing or setting their sights on a push to grow in the next 6-12 months.
There’s no doubt about it: You get a higher degree of more granular control if you go with an in-house team. But that doesn’t mean an agency leaves you out in the cold. A well-run agency will make it easy for you to be involved or hands-off – it’s all up to you. Building a strong relationship is the key.
At New York Ave, we’ve helped businesses just like yours grow and scale from wherever they are, reaching their goals in a small fraction of the time it would take with freelancers or an in-house team. Our secret? The human touch. Contact us to find out more or get started today.