4 Sep 2020 How to Strategy

Marketing agency, freelancer or employee: A guide to choosing correctly

We know that when marketing managers are under the cosh, they choose from three main methods to help them out: hiring an agency, utilising freelancer services, or recruiting a new member of staff.  

Now, you may be thinking “LikeMind Media are a marketing agency, so this blog is going to be all about why I should pick an agency”. Right? Wrong. All three avenues could be suited to you, depending on your business type and needs.  

Ultimately, we’re only going to achieve amazing relationships with our customers if we’re able to meet their needs – and if we’re not the right option for you, we won’t be able to do that.  

So, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of using agencies, freelancers and hiring new employees to help you choose the best option for you.  

What is a marketing agency? 

We’ll start with the most obvious one for us to write about– marketing agencies. Unfortunately, there’s no one way to explain what marketing agencies do as each one is different but, in simple terms, agencies offer a range of services to help their clients with their marketing needs. Depending on the agency, services could range from a specialist offering such as SEO to “full stack” (providing everything from web design to social media and advertising).    

Why use a marketing agency? 

The biggest benefit of using marketing agencies are that you get to work with a whole team of people. That means oodles of knowledge and expertise to help you with your goals. This is particularly great if you’re looking to carry out a big project that needs lots of specialist knowledge because, by employing an agency, you benefit from the experience of lots of people. 

Similarly, because marketing agencies involve teams rather than individuals, there are more brains for coming up with new ideas and strategies. Agencies can hold meetings, brainstorm ideas and use each others’ experience to come up with new and fresh ideas that are likely to work. 

The downsides of using a marketing agency 

Let’s be real, if you’ve ever compared the two, you know that marketing agencies may be more expensive than freelancers. Generally, that’s because you’re getting different areas of expertise from different people in the business and that costs more. This is where it’s important to weigh up what you’re trying to achieve with the amount of money you have to spend.  

Marketing agencies are businesses and so to run successfully, they need multiple customers. This basically means you’re not an agency’s only client. The likelihood is that if you have an emergency you need help with, your agency will do everything they can to help out but if you just forget to schedule in a piece of work, then you might have to fit around work that’s already been scheduled for other clients. 

What is a marketing freelancer? 

A marketing freelancer is someone who works on a self-employed basis. Sometimes this is their only role and, at other times, freelancing is carried out alongside full or part-time employment. Freelancers can offer a variety of services or specialise in one area.

Why use a marketing freelancer? 

As a freelancer is just one person, they can offer a lot of flexibility. They don’t need to have meetings or organise work between a team so they can often deliver work at short notice. This flexibility is also ideal if you want small amounts of work on an ad-hoc basis.  

One of the benefits about working with freelancers is the level of expertise they can offer in a particular area. From SEO to social media to blogging, you can find an expert in just about any area that you need and, because many freelancers had a previous career in this area, they can really relate to your challenges.  

The downsides of using a marketing freelancer 

Freelancers don’t usually offer the same broad range of services or expertise as an agency. So, while the benefits may be high in some areas, they may struggle to help in areas in which they have little or no experience. It’s worth considering whether it’s just one specific skill gap that needs filling before deciding which route to go down. 

Lots of freelancing is carried out on a short-term basis. This is ideal for projects where you don’t want to invest in long-term support but working with someone temporarily can mean that they don’t understand you or your business in depth.  

Hiring a new member of the marketing team 

This does what it says on the tin and involves recruiting a full-time or part-time member (or members) of staff within your team.  

Why hire a new team member? 

There are lots of benefits to hiring a new team member, from an increase in team morale to more manageable workloads among the existing team. As new employees are always based in your business – rather than managing multiple client relationships, as with agencies and freelancers – they’re likely to understand your business on a deeper level. 

When you hire a new member of staff, it’s (hopefully) long term. You’re investing in someone who will be with you for a long time and will learn and grow alongside the business.  

The downsides of hiring a new member of staff  

While hiring a new member of staff is often the go-to if budget isn’t an issue, this doesn’t always make it the right choice. Firstly, hiring staff is costly. According to Glassdoor, the average employer spends £3,000 and 27.5 days hiring a new employee. Not only is that a huge financial cost, it’s also pretty time-consuming and, if you’ve got to the point that you’re looking to hire, your workload is probably already pretty high.  

If you have exactly the right amount of work for your new employee to take over, then hiring could be the perfect solution – but what if you only have enough work for 10 hours a week? Or just 10 hours a month? Spending all that time and money on hiring and training a new staff member (and paying them), and then not giving them enough work to do, isn’t cost-effective. A freelancer or marketing agency could probably meet those needs, at a lower cost, while giving you the time to get on with your day.  

So, do I hire an employee, a freelancer or an agency? 

The right solution for you is dependent on a few different factors (sorry, we know that’s not the answer you were looking for). Before making your decision, you should consider: 

  • Your budget – what’s going to get you the best results for your money? 
  • The amount of work that you need doing 
  • Whether this work is regular or sporadic 
  • Your current capacity for training  

Finding the partnership that works for you and the other party involved, will create a strong working relationship that lasts a long time – or, as long as you need it to.  


Want to learn more about LikeMind Media and what we do? You can find out more about who we are here and what we do here.


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