As Business Owners and Entrepreneurs, every last one of us has come from an industry, trade, or craft that inspired our personal mission, and first sparked our intention to own and operate our own brand.
Like many owners of marketing companies, I started as a reporter, writer, and marketer for a variety of small to bigger agencies and businesses – a girl’s gotta pay the bills and bolster her resume, right?
From freelance to 9-5 – I’ve experimented with different styles of working, a myriad of staff sizes, and a bunch of marketplaces.
And yes – like many business owners, I’ve worked in a marketing agency. That’s exactly why I know the difference between a small business hiring an expensive agency to do their marketing work – and the comfort and affordability that comes from hiring a boutique professional that really cares about your success.
So – what’s the contrast? And why is it a big deal to you?
What a Digital Marketing Agency will Do (in a Nutshell)
I’ve watched a countless number of clients onboard in the agency arena. While it can be very exciting to begin working with a team of professionals in a glitzy downtown conference room, know that you’re going to pay (a lot…monthly) for all that glitz and glamour. And trust me – you’re a commodity, no matter what that agency team says.
After all, even a 5-member online marketing agency has a substantial payroll (marketing experts, and especially good writers, often come at a premium) – and a ton of other clients who are also clamoring for their attention on a daily basis.
While I’ll readily admit agency leadership changed my career, being an agency team member, and leadership team member, was noisy, busy, fast-paced, and overwhelming – on a daily basis. A day without a phone call, even on a day off or “on vacation”, was a far-fetched dream.
There are only 8 hours in a business day (well, for our clients), so, unfortunately, some clients had to be ignored, just so work for another “more important” client could be completed. A sticky situation was always abound.
Endless hours of meetings (not just with clients, but with the staff itself) proved to be extreme consumers of time – and, honestly, it also affected our project delivery. I’ll never forget one more detail – if there was a weak link in the team chain – there were always problems ahead. If one member of a creative team can’t hold their end of the bargain, projects will be late, not up to par, or dead on arrival.
I never worked for one of the big guns, either. I was mainly working with small to mid-size agencies with big clients, who chose that path because they thought they were getting the best in service – but they really weren’t. I’ll never forget the line that one of my bosses always gave his clients, “A 5-10 member team of marketing experts is as close as you can get to complete marketing attention”. This meant that a “nominal” ($1000-$5000/month) monthly, all-encompassing fee was the most affordable way to have a web team, social media professional, writer, and graphic designer all the time.
I’ll tell you why this is not true – and what led me to part with the agency life and serve small businesses and brands myself.
What a Boutique Professional Can Do for Your Business
Yes, I parted with the agency life – because neither myself, nor my clients, were receiving the right laser focus and development that today’s successful digital marketing strategies truly need. Marketing is about response, creativity, results, and timing – and because every dollar of a small business owner’s budget is precious, there is no time to wait a week for an agency to respond to requests for projects or for assistance on a question or issue. There’s also no room for careless work. A couple members of my team at an agency, for instance, were rather soft on deadlines or sloppy with requirements – which sends the entire project team tumbling, no matter who took the initiative for their work.
Let me tell you something – there is no excuse for sub-par work. Small businesses deserve quality attention and care, and in my opinion, that means you find the best designer, the greatest developer, and the most skilled content writer that you can. If they can’t work together – why are you paying for their work?
If you can find a qualified professional that puts everything on the line for your company – because everything is on the line for them, too – you’ll feel much better about your money being spent in marketing. You can also decide if you’ll need someone on a monthly, rolling basis – or just per project.
5 Myths about Marketing Agencies:
- They’re the Most Affordable Option for Small Businesses
The Truth: The “most affordable” option depends on the business and their needs – and sometimes, a big chunky, monthly fee is not the best way for you to go. Many social media managers can create graphics for your posts – so you may not necessarily need a graphic designer unless you’re making big web changes or have a big event coming up. Instead of a monthly fee for content writing and copywriting, you can ask a boutique marketing firm or an expert, remote-based creative for a package deal, like a discount on 5 blogs for the next 5 months.
2. They do all their Own Work – So You Won’t Have to Deal with Freelancers
The Truth: Marketing Agencies hire their own freelancers all the time – and you may not even know about it. It’s a common practice – to hire a developer from India or a quick graphic designer from a freelance website – so they can save on their bottom line. If you’ve ever been concerned about working with a freelancer – you probably already are – your agency just doesn’t tell you, and makes you think all the work is being done by a select, trusted few. That may mean they are giving secure information, like passwords and codes, out to freelancers that you don’t know. Work with someone you trust and that you can access directly.
3. They Know What They’re Doing – Because They’re a Marketing Agency
The Truth: Never overestimate the power of a leadership team that knows how to sell. I’ve seen agencies pretend that staff members who have left are still working at the company, just to make the team look bigger and seem like they have it together – especially while they’re scrambling for a replacement.
I’ve also observed resentful team members slacking off on projects and timelines – because they weren’t paid on time or because they’re really freelancers being dolled up as supposed “employees”. There are a ton of startups out there navigating through the treacherous waters of unsavory business practices – don’t believe everything you see or hear.
4. All of Their Employees are Top Notch
The Truth: When did your marketing agency give you the CVs or resumes of their employees? Boutique companies and freelancers will find it natural to send you this information, as the brand is, in essence, the individual. I’ve worked with agency teammates who are extremely talented and qualified – and some that shouldn’t have been there in the first place (no offense – I care about the business owner!).
5. They’re Far More Accredited than Most Small Companies or Freelancers
The Truth: Also far from the truth. You’ll likely find that freelancers and smaller, boutique marketing organizations tend to be even more qualified, because they only have their own legs to stand on. Most, if not all, the remote-based boutiques you work with will also be an LLC or Inc., just like the agencies.
Trust me – it’s so easy to fall prey to the promise of great customer service, attention, and skill when you have a round table telling you so. After all, they’re marketers! Give me a call or set up a consultation today and I’ll show you the difference.