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Marketing Agency VS Freelancer: Which is the right option for you? 

marketing agency vs freelancer

A successful marketing campaign always needs various talents, ideas, management, and more. Big companies like Apple, already have an internal marketing team with the necessary talents, budgets, and teams. On the other hand, most small to medium businesses do not have all the talents required for their ever-changing marketing projects.

Since a big internal marketing team is not an affordable option for most small to medium companies, they often seek help from marketing agencies or freelancers. You, as a marketer may have considered these options as well. Both types of the marketing team can be as effective as an internal marketing team yet there are some weaknesses as well. To help you make the right decision, we’d like to introduce some pros and cons of hiring freelancers and marketing agencies. Our goal is not to say one is better than the other. Instead, we hope to introduce some benefits and pitfalls for your better marketing decision!  

Marketing Agency

Advantages

Save time, effort, and manpower. 
save time using marketing agency

There are various occasions when businesses need marketing. This includes international holidays, special events, company events, and more. In these periods, extra effort, time, resources, budget, and talent are needed. Yet, in fact, due to other tasks, almost half of the small businesses spend less than two hours per week on marketing efforts (2018, Ironpaper). This leads to unsuccessful marketing outcomes even with high potential opportunities.  

The major marketing issue with small to medium companies is the lack of time and manpower. They often need more employees and time to hire talent, create content, manage and monitor the marketing progress. And this is where a marketing agency can help reduce the burden and increase efficiency. As marketing agencies specialize in marketing, they already know the required tasks, talents, and processes. They know how marketing works and what struggles SMEs face. Thus, a marketing agency can help produce high-quality marketing project time efficiently. 

There are several services the marketing agency offers. This ranges from partial management to whole marketing project management. Based on your company’s needs, you and the marketing agency can discuss appropriate services and deadlines. Within the timeline, they will help with all the necessary processes from important tasks like creating content to time-consuming tasks like managing payroll. Furthermore, they will deliver the expected quality of results within the deadline. This will help save your time and effort for a more urgent task. Therefore, if your company needs a marketing project with a tight deadline and limited resources, a marketing agency can be a very helpful choice! 

Helpful and objective guidance from professional marketers
advantage of hiring marketing agency

Many small to medium businesses often feel lost in their marketing direction. This includes the period when they consistently see poor results or when they start a new business. While every dollar is precious especially for small to medium businesses, a wrong marketing approach may lead to an irreversible loss. 

The most crucial element for successful marketing is objective evaluation. Yet objective evaluation is challenging if you are already part of the company. For instance, as you already fully understand how your product works, you may not be able to view your product ads in the eyes of lay people. Some may also fear to voice against some practices due to the fear of job security. This makes opinions from external sources necessary to evaluate and improve the marketing approach.

You may have considered asking your friends or family for an objective view. They may be somewhat helpful, yet they cannot represent the whole perspective of the target audience. They also don’t have sufficient marketing knowledge or experience to offer advice. This is where a marketing agency can be very useful. A marketing agency has professional knowledge in different segments of audiences and marketing projects. They are also experts in evaluating the marketing approach as well as its outcome.  Moreover, they have a lot of experience and specialized tools for various marketing strategies and industries. Last but not least, they can provide a real solution by helping with actual marketing content production with highly trained talents. Thus, a marketing agency can be the best solution to get helpful suggestions and guidance if you are struggling with the marketing approach. 

Disadvantages

Limited industry experience and knowledge
disadvantage of hiring marketing agency

While there are numerous benefits of hiring a marketing agency, there are also some limitations and disadvantages. First, a marketing agency may lack your industry knowledge. This may seem contradictory to the previous point where we discussed how professional knowledge and perspective by marketing agencies can help companies improve from their limitations. We are not saying marketing agency is not capable of offering guidance. We are talking about the possibility when agencies do not have much experience or domain knowledge of a particular industry. 

Even an agency that has worked with a variety of teams, clients, and industries can’t have all the knowledge, understanding, and experience of diverse industries of every market. In most cases, they will only have experience in a more common area like F&B or a couple of key specializations. If you plan to hire a marketing agency for a more general marketing campaign like email marketing or social media marketing, a marketing agency may still be able to handle it regardless of the industry. However, they may struggle to produce marketing campaigns that need a deep understanding of the product or industry. Furthermore, such a marketing product with limited understanding may result in an unsuccessful marketing outcome. 

High marketing cost 
high marketing agency cost

As you’ve already expected, marketing cost is one of the cons of hiring a marketing agency. Like any other business, a marketing agency never provides a service for free. While marketing agencies can help with various marketing tasks, they also charge for the employee’s salaries, tax, tool fees, and more. When the number of hours or projects adds up, the service fee can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars. This often overwhelms the marketing budget of small to medium businesses. 

Some may consider using a boutique marketing agency that provides more customized services. A small agency may be a better option if you know a specific marketing task or talent you need help with. However, if you need advice on overall marketing strategy, we do not recommend boutique agencies as they may lack experience. Furthermore, as boutique agencies often have fewer employees, it may not be the best option if you have an urgent marketing campaign to develop. 

Freelancer 

Advantages 

More affordable and flexible marketing cost 
save cost by hiring freelancer

One of the biggest and most obvious advantages of hiring freelancers would be their cost. Compared to agencies, freelancers do not require a service fee. This makes them much more affordable than a marketing agency. Depending on their level of experience, specialization, and review, their hourly rate may be as low as a few dollars. Moreover, unlike full-time employees, they are much more flexible in hiring for specific usage. For instance, you may choose to hire from few days to months based on the length of the project. This can be especially cost-effective if need a talent for a short-term project. 

One thing to keep in mind is that a cheaper option does not mean a better option. If you have a tight marketing budget constraint, you will find such affordable talents very appealing. However, the quality they deliver may not satisfy you. Therefore, you should also consider their experience, portfolio, skills, and read past customer testimonials/ reviews to choose the right one who can provide quality work.

Diverse Talents with domain expertise and local market knowledge
Freelancer

Unlike marketing agencies with a limited number of talents and specialization, there are numerous talented marketing freelancers globally with special experience, background, and knowledge. For instance, a UX freelance designer may have a biology degree or a social media freelance specialist may have studied law in university. Such a variety of talent can be very useful if you plan for a niche market that requires a deep understanding of the industry. 

Furthermore, a freelancer may be a great option if you look for talent who are experts in their local market. Today, we are no longer limited to a single country but to multiple regions. This means there are occasions when you need to plan a marketing campaign for an unfamiliar country or event. Some of you may think good marketing content will be effective in any country. Well, that is not false but you still need to understand the audience, culture, and trend to strategically target the audience without making unwanted misunderstandings or mistakes. In this case, you may consider hiring freelancers who have lived and experienced in that particular country. By working with them, you will be able to target the local audience much more effectively using the right channel, message, and platform. 

Disadvantages

Time-consuming to hire and manage
save time by hiring freelancer

There are hundreds and thousands of talented marketing freelancers worldwide. This also means hiring and managing freelancers takes extra effort. You will need some time to surf around freelance marketplace websites to shortlist, evaluate, and interview them. You will also need to do other related tasks like scheduling, project management, look at non-disclosure agreements, legal contracts, and managing payroll. 

If you don’t have much time to curate, interview and review suitable freelance talent, why not let Independents do that for you? Independents matches talent to your project based on industry experience, portfolio, skills, and creative abilities, to give you the best talent within 48 hours of receiving your project brief!

Last but not least, Independents manages operational complexities by taking care of payroll, legal contract, project, and time management for you – so you only need to focus on assessing the work delivered! Using Independents, you will be able to get the right level of talent and high-quality outcomes at an affordable budget! 

Unpredictable events that may delay the marketing project 
disadvantage of hiring freelancer

If you have never visited or searched for a freelance website, try visiting one of them. You will be surprised by the sheer number of freelancers out there. This is nice as it means thousands of different options for us. But at the same time, it also means unpredictability. We are not saying all freelancers may act unpredictably and irresponsibly. There are certainly numerous freelancers who are high-quality, responsible, and honest. However, some freelancers may not meet your expectations. This includes late work, communication difficulty, low-quality work, unexpected changes, and so on. If you are busy with other tasks, such unpredictable events may be very time-consuming and influence your productivity. Furthermore, your marketing goal may be delayed or unachieved. Deep research of every freelancer may help avoid such issues but again, this may not be feasible.

If you want a highly experienced freelancer with guaranteed quality of work, you may consider using a vetted freelancer website like Working not working. However, these platforms may require extra platform fees that are not the cheapest. Also, the platform itself does not monitor every project and contract so if any issue happens, it may take some time to resolve it. On the other hand, at Independents, you don’t have to worry about these. Independents manage each project and provide 100% quality assurance service. This can ensure you get the quality of marketing outcome even in niche markets. So if you are unfamiliar or concerned with hiring freelancers, try services from Independents! Check out this article on 3 types of freelance talents you can hire for business growth

Are you interested in other marketing tips? Then check out the following articles!

3 Useful tips to stretch your marketing budget further

10 Essential marketing tools every marketer should know

3 Best B2C marketing strategies for small businesses and startups

References 

https://www.ironpaper.com/webintel/articles/small-business-marketing-trends-for-2018-10-stats-and-insights

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