Digital Agencies vs. Internal Staff vs. Freelancers
Running your online presence can be a big task, particularly for a traditional location based business where you need to devote most of your time to actually doing the work. While many business owners think they can take on running a website and multiple social media platforms on their own, the truth is that it will often hurt your business more than help it.
You’ve got options though. In today’s world, the management of online presence has become a profession in its own right, drawing many talented individuals. You’ve got three ways you can work with these specialists – hire them into your business, hire them on a freelance basis, or work with an agency.
Each of these three methods has its pros and cons, and in the end one of them rises above as being more suitable for small and mid-size businesses. So let’s look at these pros and cons…
Wouldn’t it be great to have a dedicated team on hand, ready to move on whatever project needs to be done? They would become part of your internal culture, be invested in your company, and would get back to you right away. They would always be available, and you would have complete control of their schedule. Need more work done? Just approve overtime, or hire someone else!
Internal staff is the way to go if you want the utmost control of your marketing message. It also allows for extensive collaboration, bouncing ideas off of each other, and great brainstorming opportunities. You’ll be able to train potential managers for the future, groom the future of your business.
They would also be prohibitively expensive for a small- to mid-size business. For every employee, you’ll have to provide a competitive package, including insurance and benefits. You’ll have to deal with their taxes, and they still will require a high level of management. You get complete control, with the catch that you need to be there providing supervision on all projects. Are you equipped to manage a marketing professional? For a business owner with a lot of balls to juggle, this is just adding one more to the bunch.
On top of all that, there’s the issue of capital investment – you’ll need to purchase or rent the equipment they need, a list that can become rather lengthy if you want audio or video components to your web presence. When this equipment needs to be updated or replaced in a couple years’ time, you’ll have to shell out once again. Ultimately The overhead cost of internal staff is its downfall.
Finally, sometimes companies are tempted to try and hire a small staff that can do it all – one or two people to do tasks that range far and wide. Avoid this! If you try and get one or two “jacks of all trades” and heap all of the work on them, they will be stretched thin and burned out in no time at all, quality will take the hit and at the end of the day with any form of marketing, it's all about your ROI.
Freelancers often seem like a great choice for businesses who want little or no involvement with their online presence. They generally come cheaper than the other two options, with the ability to seek lowest bidders. You don’t have to keep them on payroll when they aren’t in use, and you aren’t responsible for paying any sort of taxes for them.
Unlike internal staff, there is little to no overhead involved in utilizing freelancers. Each freelancer needs to supply their own specialized equipment to fulfill the task you award them. Cameras, lighting, software, none of it comes out of your pocket.
Unfortunately, wrangling a team of freelancers can be difficult. They need a lot of management, and quality control falls to you. If you aren’t specific and cautious, you can end up shelling out for bad workmanship and the freelancer disappearing. Many freelancers gravitate towards freelancing because of the flexibility it offers, but this can lead to limited availability and poor response times in many cases.
Out of the other two, they are the least likely to share your vision, and there may even be conflicting interpretations in the work they return to you. They all have their own methods of execution, and may not feel responsible if their methods end up hurting someone else’s product or deadline. Their mercenary nature means that some may jump ship to chase another offer with little to no notice, leaving you hanging.
So sure, the lack of internal cost is a bright spot for freelancing. You may even find some high-quality freelancers who end up working well, and who are solid contributors. But wouldn’t you like to have a bit more control over those working on your website or day-to-day marketing, along with set-in-stone reliability? As we know what’s cheap is not always necessarily good, and a bad website can be worse than no website at all. You’ll still need someone on staff at your business who has a good sense of your marketing needs to coordinate, unless you want to pilot the ship alone.
It’s always good to have a middle ground, and that’s where digital agencies come in. They take bits and pieces of the previous two methods and combine them into a convenient package.
You may not have the same level of investment into your internal culture, but agencies have their own cultures. Finding one that jives with your company’s culture shouldn’t be too difficult. Running your account at a digital agency would be a devoted account manager, someone who would get back to you in minutes with a response, or at least let you know they are working on whatever your need may be. You won’t have to potentially wait until two days later, like you may have to with a freelancer.
You’ll also have a raft of experts in a range of fields on hand when you need them. You don’t have to go out and hire someone, or find a freelancer. The agency will have someone who can fulfill the task that needs to be done. You don’t have to worry about complex benefit and payroll either – you pay the agency their flat rate, and they deal with all the time consuming red tape. There’s no overhead for you, and you only pay when you need it.
Some project management responsibilities will still fall to you if you work with a digital agency, but nothing like with the other two options. We’re talking minutes of your day, not hours or an entire shift. You’ll be working with marketing experts who have spent years working in the industry, and who have honed their skills over time. They will need focused but minimal input, and they will need feedback from you over the course of the projects. But for the most part, you will just point them in the right direction and sit back to await the results.
Of course, we here at AnchorMedia, think digital agencies are the best option. After all, we are one. But even looking at the options objectively, it’s clear that for the vast majority of small to medium-size businesses a digital agency is the best option. Why?
You want the best possible product, at the right price. You want creativity and originality, devotion to the details, and content that is superior. You want a one-stop solution. You want an efficient, unified effort towards the goals of your business. You want the best possible return on your investment.
So when you are ready to let a digital marketing agency take the reins and help your business solidify itself in the online world in your niche, reach out to us here at AnchorMedia. We will help you get that competitive edge to grow long
into the future.