Choosing between a marketing agency or a digital consultant is an absolute nightmare. Both have their own sets of benefits and drawbacks. It is essential to outline what makes them different from each other. Digital consultants are the natural options for new and small businesses. Even start-ups can avail the expertise of digital consultants.

However, an individual entity in a professional sphere has limitations. Digital consultants are more like freelancers, so they have certain restrictions. By the looks of it, this is where a marketing agency becomes an ideal choice. An organization that is serious regarding marketing should know the difference. As mentioned earlier, both sets of professionals have their pros and cons.

Marketers often are consultant-for-hire at different stages of their professional lives. Some of them are also head digital marketing firms on their own. Digital consultants provide strategic guidance on social media marketing, search engine optimization, among others. They collaborate with several clients from different backgrounds with their limitations.

Digital Consultant is great in networking, building, and learning. They leverage their strengths for building up sustainable business and opportunities. Today, both digital consultants and marketing agencies are the go-to option in digital marketing.

Since the pandemic, businesses and organizations, irrespective of their scale, are moving online. The need for digital presence is the need of the hour today. Hence, organizations are relying on the expertise of consultants and agencies.

Let’s explore how Digital Consultant is different from Marketing Agency!

Several reasons make digital consultants the perfect choice for businesses. But the apparent option why these freelancers are growing in number is that they are incredibly cost-effective. Moreover, this doesn’t mean the overall deliverable cost is low. Instead, it is substantial and significantly lowers as compared to hiring an agency. If you happen to prefer consultants over agencies, you’re well aware that the price can be negotiated as per conversations.

These consultants are further divided into two distinctive segments:

  • Unicorns
  • Specialists

The specialists are incredibly well-informed and compartmentalized in terms of skills and knowledge. Then some unicorns are great at almost everything there is in this realm. Unicorns are aware of the trends and methodologies, making them an ideal choice for experimentation. For instance, you can hire the unicorns who are great at inbound and then some have a speciality in terms of outbound.

Let’s explore the pros and cons of Digital Consultant:

  • Flexibility: The insurmountable flexibility of digital consultants benefits their clients immensely. By the looks of it, clients do not have to hire digital consultants as full-time employees. Instead, you can choose to hire them or let go of them as per your requirement.
  • Modular: For clients who have tons in marketing investment, there is a highly likely chance that they would require only one skill-set. The skill-set might range from social media marketing, blogging, article writing, among others.
  • Digital consultants are an excellent option for plugging into the client’s current plans. Moreover, consultants do not twerk while rewriting about their functionalities.
  • Cost-effective- Freelancers and consultants are highly cost-effective. Additionally, clients also see where their money is going and how their investment will reap the benefits. With Agencies, things are pretty different.

For instance, the agency often bills in a couple of ways:

An overall cost-plus arrangement – This involves making up the cost of just doing business.

Value Arrangement – Where clients are changed for the ultimate valuation of the overall work after being delivered.

Digital consultants usually charge as per task completed or even at an hourly rate. Some consultants also change half the invoice in advance, and the remaining amount is credited after the work is done. There are several audiobooks for digital consultants available in the market. They provide a great way to learn about the approach and basic knowledge that every aspiring digital consultant needs today. 

Let’s take a look at other benefits of choosing a Digital Consultant:

  • Engagements are scalable

Many clients today expect consultants to enhance their speed as well as insight. Additionally, the consultants would also have to ensure that the quality stays intact. Further, consultants would require the use of the digital capabilities that are necessary to make engagements scalable.

Consultants rely on several platforms; hence the work done is in a structured form. Moreover, consultants are also aware of digital analytics that can turn any data into insights. The information is what makes consultants achieve a great outcome even with few resources.

  • Knowledge library

Knowledge often becomes stagnant. This is where consultants come into play. As mentioned earlier, consultants rely on digitalization for building expertise. Digital consultants can enhance their performance and also identify the best possible outcome to carry out their work. Clients will leverage the knowledge and expertise of digital consultants to make the work happen.

  • Growth in business

When engagements become scalable, consultants would free up resources to help develop their client’s businesses. Smaller companies could engage more clients by not having to spend huge capital. On the other hand, larger firms could win more business and bid competitively.

  • Margin increases

What happens if you use fewer resources to accomplish your desired goals? The answer is simple; the accomplishment feels extensively effective. Consultants also aid in digitizing the overall analysis and discovery process. Reducing the time spent from eight to almost three weeks, the firm will raise a 10% more engagement margin.

Cons:

  • Specific freelancer sites help minimize the effort of finding digital consultants. However, if you’ve built a significant and extensive network, you could draw a much cheaper option. Always choose talented consultants from across your country, as it will aid you to overcome substantial challenges in quality.
  • If you ever happen to come across unskilled consultants, they might vanish during the ongoing marketing process. It is advised to rely on freelancing websites and reliable sources, so you do not necessarily have to lose the money that you’ve invested. 
  • Freelancers are expandable, meaning you can always find another one that works for you as per your requirement. Always choose a consultant/freelancer who speeds up your business process and perfectly aligns with your work culture.
  • You can reach out to a staffing agency to provide you with numerous vetting options while dealing with a complete set of challenges. Find someone who can work for 5-10 hour each week till the completion of the project.
  • There is another challenging aspect that clients have to go through while they are with a consultant. As they are “consultants”, they will leave eventually. Remember, they are your temporary aid, so don’t expect the collaboration to be permanent.
  • Last but not least, you’ll have to go through another set of troubles even if you find a suitable replacement.

Do not let the cons overshadow the benefits that digital consultants bring to clients.

Marketing agencies, on the other hand, focus entirely on the execution. An agency might be made up of two people or hundreds. In digital marketing, an agency at the bare minimum consists of 10-50 employees.

They are an ideal choice for running campaigns. There are numerous agencies that you can come across. However, despite the number of employees, these agencies aren’t the robust or cost-effective option. 

Some of the agencies also offer the onramp, and the offer could also be accessible. Agencies have several tactics to engage with their clients, even the potential ones. It is for the best to know what they are, whether they offer credibility of some sorts.

Benefits of Marketing Agencies

  • Multi-channel approach

Agencies are an excellent choice for getting things done. You would be required to choose agencies if you already have the person operating the channel. If not, agencies will arrange for someone to do the specific tasks most consistently.

The multi-channel approach aids in managing ads spent or for writing content.

  • Focuses on running client’s business:

Running successful campaigns requires a strong team. Clients would need to be a little attentive as they would have to work with an in-house team. Souring work to marketing agencies will save money to build teams and conserve a lot of your resources.

The task of bringing the business up and running is also time-consuming. Using marketing agencies would ultimately lift the burden from the shoulder. Also, you won’t have to engage spending months to train new and experienced people. Hiring an agency could speed up your business by making it grow indefinitely.

All you have to do is share your goals as well as the timeframe. There are no training, managing, or onboarding involved. The team of the marketing agency will handle your requirements.

  • They are experts:

Businesses might not opt to rely on the expertise of marketing agencies. However, their expertise does matter while campaigning. It is time taking, and with thorough consideration, you can opt for an agency that suits or budget. 

Understanding SEO and PPC strategies all by yourself is a daunting task. Even social media marketing plays a crucial role today, so it is best to hire experts. Their teams are well-experienced and qualified to meet your goals.

  • They understand industry relevance

What do you need before running any campaign? Proper research. Research also includes learning everything there is about your industry. Check out your competitors or the latest practices in marketing or hire an agency.

These agencies will conduct research, study and understand your target audience. They will also understand the preferences, behaviour, and interests of the audience. After that, they will adopt marketing strategies to help clients yield maximum results with relevant developments.

  • You come across new ideas

A great marketing agency will rub new ideas for you. You’ll learn techniques that would yield better results. The newfound perspective in marketing will give you something more to understand. Your marketing efforts would be further created based on entirely new ideas from the consumers’ viewpoint.

For instance, in social media marketing, the agency will give you a comprehensive view of your target audience. They will also determine the kind of content you need to put to appeal to audiences. The idea is to streamline your campaign irrespective of their genre.

  • You won’t need tools

Today marketing does require specific tools to streamline campaigns. These tools aren’t all-in-one; instead, they need to be understood. Using the tools would cost extra money, so the best go-to marketing agencies that already use this tool for other clients.

Marketing agencies ensure you with analytics, competitor analysis, keyword research, automation tools, and search management.

These are the benefits that come from relying on marketing agencies.

Cons:

  • There might be chances that brand identity would be diluted. Given that your goals will be reflected when the agency is doing your bidding, the approach might be different.
  • There are a ton of security and privacy issues that come from the collaboration. But sometimes, it is worth the risk!
  • Higher management cost to keep projects up and running.
  • As the competition increases, you’ll have to pay more to stay ahead.

Which one is right for you?

Both digital consultants and marketing agencies aren’t mutually exclusive. If you have the funds, you can rely on both to get the best of both worlds. However, you’d have to describe the marketing strategy that you want to implement. The first and the foremost thing is strategy; once you’re covered with design, you’ll understand whom to choose and whom not to.

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Lorenzo Gutierrez
Digital Marketing Consultant
Lorenzo Gutierrez is a Digital Marketing Consultant and a certified Google Partner. He helps small businesses and corporations grow their revenue online. He does this by mixing passion, innovation, & expertise.