If you need help with marketing materials, you might consider hiring a new employee to focus on these initiatives. But is that the best use of your operating budget?
Whether you're a brand new company focused on building a brand, or an established business that's looking to ramp up its visibility or launch a new product line, you might discover that you don't have the time to develop all of your marketing collateral on your own—especially if you're planning to launch a large-scale content marketing initiative.
It's time to bring on help. So do you hire a new employee to focus on marketing, or are you better off working with a content marketing agency?
True, it can be nice to have someone in the office to talk to. But the fact is, many organizations would get better value for money by using outside consultants to perform these tasks.
You may get a bit of sticker shock when you hear about a consultant’s hourly rate—but for most project-based work, you’ll save money in the long run by using a consultant instead of an employee. With employees, you’re responsible for providing equipment and office space, and paying payroll taxes, insurance costs, and other benefits. None of these “extras” come into play when working with a consultant: The hourly or project fee is all that you’ll ever need to pay. (Still wavering about the price? Check out my post over at Intuit for more insight into what goes into a contractor's hourly fee.)
Alternatively, if you choose a retainer-based payment model, there is no need to worry about whether your chosen hire or consultant is meeting expected productivity levels: Retainer agreements are typically based on a specific set of monthly deliverables. (Check out this blog post for more benefits of choosing a content marketing retainer.)
When you hire a new employee, it often takes weeks or even months to train the person in the tasks you need help with. If you select an agency with experienced writers and content marketers, you’ll have access to people who already have specific expertise in the industries you’re looking for, and can hit the ground running with little to no advance training. Better yet, many agencies can put together customized teams of freelancers on demand with industry experience in your particular field.
When you hire a full-time employee, you need to pay that employee for 40 hours of work each week, whether or not you have 40 hours worth of actual work to assign her. By shifting to an agency-based model, you can contract with a content marketing consultant only when you have a project you need help with, saving the extra money you would have spent in salary. What’s more, instead of having one person’s services at your disposal, you have access to the agency’s entire team, which may include numerous writers, editors, designers, and social media marketers. If you’ve switched from a physical server to a cloud-based host, consider this the staffing equivalent.
Employees may be good at taking direction—but many of them don’t know the first thing about actually running a business. Consultants are business owners themselves. As such, they have a good understanding of all of the concerns you might have about marketing your business, dealing with vendors, managing cash flow and employees, and other business issues. Instead of working as your subordinates, you can consider them colleagues who have valuable advice to share. True, it can be an adjustment if you’re used to having people work “under” you, but if you’re open to it, you and your consultant can build a positive relationship based on trust and mutual admiration.
As you grow, it may be helpful to bring an experienced marketing director on board—but, especially while you're still ramping up and experimenting with your business model, choosing to outsource your content needs can be the most efficient way to build your brand.
If you're a business owner, have you hired in-house marketers, or do you rely on freelancers or a content marketing agency to conceptualize and produce your branded content? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than a decade.
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