Marketing Agency or a Consultant: That’s the Question

marketing agencyYour company needs help reaching its goals, and you’ve decided it’s time to work with an outside marketing expert to make that happen.

This is an exciting time, and the upcoming growth that you are about to experience should have you itching to get started.

You only have one thing left to decide: to work with a marketing consultant or to work with a marketing agency.

As a marketing agency ourselves, we have many clients who have partnered consultants and other agencies in the past. We condensed their pros and cons of working with each into an easy-to-follow guide so that you can learn from their good and bad experiences (plus offer a few insights of our own). Read on to find the best fit for you.

Know Your Budget

Every company has a marketing budget, and knowing how much you have to spend on your marketing efforts is a good place to begin. Learning how to make that budget earn you the biggest return on investment (ROI) comes next.

Know What You Need

Consultants generally charge less for their services because they tend to have less overhead. They are often experts in a few marketing niches at most, and can provide solid marketing services within their wheelhouses. Marketing agencies staff larger teams (which come at a higher cost) made up of multiple subject matter experts with extensive knowledge in their respective fields. With their sheer numbers alone, agencies’ teams are able to offer more services, provide more knowledge and dedicate more time to your company’s marketing efforts than a solitary consultant can.

Consultants tend to take on fewer clients at a time because there are only so many available hours in a day. But, so long as the consultant is an expert in the services you need, this could be a good thing as you may be one of his or her only clients.

Get to Know Your Marketing Providers

As a business leader, you already know that you should only work with outside vendors you trust. When interviewing marketing consultants or marketing agencies, learn about the people that will be managing your accounts and make sure your company aligns with their ways of thinking. Don’t worry about being a pest—in fact, ask for way too much information.

  • Talk to multiple sources about the company or consultant, get a second opinion on your company’s needs, and look for proof that the marketing vendor delivers the results it promises.
  • Ask for statistics, sell sheets, a list of satisfied clients, testimonials and any other information that will help you make an informed, educated decision about the agency or consultant.
  • You can use even use one of the questions management consulting interviewers ask: “If I was stuck with this candidate at the airport during a weekend snowstorm, would I be ok with that?”

Take the time to choose a marketing partner that has plenty of tried-and-true processes in place for delivering results, employs satisfied experts who take their jobs seriously, offers what you need and can deliver results it in a way that makes you feel like more than just another client.

Your business deserves the best, so make sure you’re going to get it.

You Get What You Pay For

Lastly, when it comes to choosing either a consultant or an agency, remember that you “value” is relative. Vendors offering discounted prices are not always going to provide the best services. They may be underselling competitors simply to build their own businesses, and in doing so may end up going out of business. They sometimes charge too much but do not deliver on desired results. Some marketing agencies and marketing consultants start out strong at the beginning of a contract but, over time, begin to neglect their clients due to overwork and overload.

Consultants who work part-time might not have enough hours in the day to give you their full attention, which can be scary for your bottom line. Always ask them about what happens when they fall ill or have personal matters come up (because who wants to realize, hours before a deadline, that the materials they were promised will be late because their consultant is going to visit a cousin’s goddaughter’s puppy for the first time?). By contrast, marketing agencies will often have a next-man-up policy in place because of their larger teams. This means others on the team can jump in when something comes up so that someone is always working on your marketing needs, even when your normal contact has a conflict.

Remember, you are choosing to work with a marketing vendor because you have goals. These companies and consultants should be in business to help you grow and achieve or exceed those goals. Choose a marketing partner that has the capacity to grow with you, the ability to reinvent themselves, and a track record of happy clients. Before you choose a vendor partner, make sure you know who will be managing your account, and just how well that account will be managed.


As a marketing agency, we have our own opinion on this topic. We’ve seen the good, the bad and ugly of both models. We’re happy to give you insights about what to avoid—without mentioning names, of course!

Are you in the market for marketing assistance? Contact us to set up a free, 30-minute consultation to see if our proven, proprietary blend of digital marketing tactics can help you double your qualified leads.

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