Marketing Agency, Freelancer, or In-House: Which is the Best Fit?

Marketing Agency, Freelancer, or In-House: What’s the Best Fit for Your Business?

How do you determine which route to go? Do you collaborate with a marketing agency, outsource to a freelancer, or build an in-house team? 

Also, how do you know the differences and benefits of each option so you can make the right choice for your needs?

Here at Heights, we’ve worked with dozens of companies that each take a different approach to the combination of marketing support they use for their business. We’ve seen each option’s challenges and benefits, whether they work with an agency, freelancer, or hire someone in-house.

In this article, we will address the benefits and differences between working with a marketing agency or freelancer or building an in-house team so that you can make the best decision for your business and overall marketing goals.

Working with a Marketing Agency

When you collaborate with a marketing agency, you access a team of experts with experience and resources to help achieve your marketing goals. They typically specialize in developing and executing comprehensive marketing strategies. 

Access to Diverse Skill Sets

A marketing agency often boasts a diverse team with individuals skilled in different aspects of marketing, such as:

  • Strategic Advisory
  • Brand Messaging and Identity 
  • Copywriting
  • Email Marketing
  • Website Development
  • Graphic Design
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

If an agency doesn’t have someone on their team with a specific skill needed to address one of your marketing needs, most agencies (ours included) have a curated list of specialist contractors they bring into projects as needed. 

This gives you access to all the skills needed to execute your marketing plan without requiring you to find a solution for each need. 

This range of skills and expertise offers a comprehensive approach to addressing your marketing needs and reaching your overall business goals. 

Scalability and Flexibility

One advantage of working with a marketing agency is their ability to scale up or down based on your business’s needs. 

Agencies are equipped to handle various projects, from small-scale campaigns to full-scale marketing initiatives. With an agency, you can adjust your marketing efforts as your business evolves without worrying about recruitment, training, or layoffs.

Marketing Agency Challenges

However, working with an agency may include some drawbacks. Larger agencies, in particular, may assign account managers as primary points of contact. This can cause a potential disconnect between you and the individuals directly involved in your projects. 

They may also need time to familiarize themselves with your business and brand voice, which could impact timelines. This may not line up with your company’s expectations or timeline.

Despite these drawbacks, working with a marketing agency can offer great value to your business. Agencies are especially adept at finding the most strategic route to hitting your goals.

Working with a Freelancer

Outsourcing to a freelancer offers the benefit of direct access to someone with expertise in a specific marketing area. This direct line of communication often results in faster response time and a more streamlined communication process. 

Freelancers offer unique advantages that can be valuable for certain businesses. Here are some reasons why working with freelancers might be the right choice for your marketing needs.

Specialized Knowledge and Niche Expertise

Freelancers often specialize in specific niches or industries, making them well-versed in the intricacies of your target audience and market. 

Their deep knowledge and expertise can prove invaluable when creating tailored marketing strategies designed to resonate with your ideal customers.

Cost-Effectiveness and Project-Based Engagement

Hiring freelancers can be a cost-effective solution for businesses that require specialized marketing services on a project-by-project basis. Instead of incurring the overhead costs associated with hiring a full-time employee or agency retainer, you only pay for the specific tasks or projects completed by the freelancer.

You could hire a freelancer for a variety of small, one-off projects, such as:

  • Copywriting web articles or marketing emails
  • Drafting social media posts for the month
  • Creating a custom brand logo
  • Designing social media graphics
  • Editing video files

Freelancer Challenges

Although the flexibility of a freelancer can be appealing, there are drawbacks. It’s important that you understand how contracted projects fit within your larger marketing plan and goals.

Freelancers often focus on their specific niche or project and lack the larger marketing perspective that most agencies provide. If they don’t consider the broader strategic context of their work within your business, it could lead to fragmentation in your overall marketing strategy and results.

If you choose to work with freelancers, it’s critical that someone on your team has a clear picture of your overall marketing strategy. Also, your team will need to know how to work well with a freelancer to execute those priorities. 

Hiring Someone In-House

Bringing your marketing efforts in-house lets you have a dedicated team member deeply immersed in your business messaging, voice, and offerings

Complete Control and Long-Term Cost Effectiveness

Building an internal marketing team can facilitate faster decision-making and execution when it comes to your marketing, as an in-house team member is directly embedded within your business structure.

Plus, having someone in-house can be cost-effective in the long term, especially if you have the right combination of individuals capable of developing and executing your marketing strategy. 

Challenges of Building an Internal Marketing Team

It’s common for the first marketing role you hire in-house to be execution-heavy. Finding someone with both the tactical skills and strategic insight required to move your marketing forward is rare. 

This still leaves you with a marketing strategy gap. Filling that gap requires a higher-level role, such as a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), to drive overarching marketing strategies to reach your business goals.

If your company isn’t ready to hire that role in-house, an alternate option is to contract with a fractional CMO. Many agencies and individual consultants offer this service, and can provide the strategic insights and plan for your in-house team to execute on.

Finding the Right Fit

Ultimately, the decision to work with a marketing agency, or freelancer, or hire someone in-house depends on the size of your business, your unique marketing needs, and your long-term business goals. 

It’s important to consider the benefits of each option carefully and weigh the factors needed for marketing success; such as expertise, scalability, direct access, strategic oversight, and cost-effectiveness.

Whether you opt for the comprehensive expertise of a marketing agency, the accessibility of a freelancer, or the immersion of an in-house team member, it’s important to ensure that your business objectives and marketing efforts work seamlessly together to achieve your goals.

At Heights Strategic Marketing, it’s common for us to work with a client for a time, and when they’re ready, help them transition to bringing their marketing in-house. 
If you’re unsure which option is best for your business, we can help. Request a call with our team. We’ll take the time to understand your business operations and overall goals so that we can provide you with the best recommendations for getting marketing results.

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