Q: I recently founded a new tech startup and I know that a holistic marketing strategy is imperative to my success--but I've got no clue where to start. Is it better to hire a digital marketing consultant or jump right into bed with an agency?
It's never a good feeling, knowing that your business is in dire need of help. Yet, it's also an opportunity to connect with the best team to "right the ship."
Let's look at both sides:
Yes--Hire that Digital Marketing Consultant!
- you need help with search engine optimized content like blogs and social media
- you're looking for education around maintaining your own online marketing program(s)
- you spent too much time with an agency that didn't understand your needs
- you're looking for someone who can be an extension of your internal team and works well with other partners
- your business is just starting out and you're looking for direction on "everything"
- you already have a business plan in mind, but need to find the right person (or people) to implement it
Nope, Skip the Consultant. Go Straight to Agency!
- you have a large enough budget that you can turn your online marketing over to the experts to put on auto-pilot
- your marketing request consists of complex tasks in every area of marketing--for multiple campaigns
- you want as many heads to come together as possible to ensure you're on the cutting-edge
- you need access to multiple resources and expensive tools
Bottom Line: Regardless of your needs, both are relevant for business. But, typically it comes down to size. (because yes, size really does matter!)
For Small Medium Businesses
In my experience, most SMBs are focused on generating more sales and not building their brand. However, this batch of organizations can be broken down into smaller segments:
Local Businesses: this businesses often choose to spend their marketing dollars on tried and true initiatives: search optimization, pay-for-play advertising, social media marketing and lead generation. These businesses are often very small, and just aren't lucrative for an agency; both from a monetary and scaleability standpoint. A digital marketing CONSULTANT is the best bet for this segment because they can help them define their business strategy and build a simple roadmap within budget.
- Startups: these guys come in all shapes and forms, but they're often bootstrapped for cash. If they've already managed to raise some decent money during funding rounds, they typically prefer to build their own in-house marketing teams, though even that trend is changing if they need help with content marketing or video production. A digital marketing CONSULTANT is the best option for this group because they can share best practices from a variety perspectives, including customer relationship management, sales, integrated marketing and product development.
- Small Enterprise: they've got a big growth trajectory, but despite being cash rich, are still heavily focused on generating sales. They're requirements are often multi-disciplinary and are looking for everything from core strategy and building a sustainable plan to generating brand awareness. For these guys, a digital marketing CONSULTANT and AGENCY would be recommended. The consultant will come in handy with specific needs like website content, creating corporate blog strategy or building SEO. The agency will offer end-to-end services and can scale with active growth plans.
For Enterprise Businesses
These guys are large! It's an almost obvious choice that this group should hire a digital marketing AGENCY or even multiple to help with multiple streams like customer acquisition, brand management, content marketing, infrastructure development, publicity and customer relationship management.