Marketing needs to help your brand tell a memorable, genuine story that improves the customer experience. You might feel capable of pulling this off yourself, or you may know that you need marketing help. There are marketing support options out there that offer variable levels of flexibility, specialization, consistency, or control. Whatever kind of creative talent you are sourcing, you can find it—as long as you know where to look.
1. Full-Service Marketing Agencies
A traditional, full-service marketing agency has long been the go-to for a reason. Firms that got their start in advertising have evolved to offer everything from campaign design and direction, to copywriting, to web design, to media purchasing. Especially if you’re building a brand-new startup and still making decisions about staffing (maybe you’re just getting started building out your marketing department, for example), the full-service agency can serve as a great partner to own your brand’s marketing and creative direction.
- The Pros:
◊ The agency model means people move up as they learn and find success in creative roles, so your account will be served by a team with broad backgrounds.
◊ Because these firms tend to be a little larger, they’ve invested significant resources in their people and the tools they use.
◊ Project management is typically sophisticated and user-friendly for clients.
- The Cons:
◊ This creative support may carry a high cost.
◊ It might not be easy to engage on a project-by-project basis.
◊ Depending on the staffing model of a given firm, you may not have one point of contact.
2. In-House Creative Professionals
As companies grow, it’s sometimes a priority to bring as many elements of marketing in-house as possible—including creative talent like designers, copywriters, and videographers. This may or may not actually be necessary and can even have drawbacks to your brand’s growth if the wrong person is in the role. But under the direction of a Marketing Director with a clear vision, these professionals can work together and form a creative machine with singular focus.
- The Pros
◊ Hiring someone in-house versus working with an agency means more content for the same cost.
◊ The employee’s side-by-side presence with your subject matter experts lets them write or create marketing content extremely well.
◊ You have control over brand standards and don’t have to rely on a third party to scale or change timelines, or to learn your business and industry language.
- The Cons:
◊ Internal teams can become limited in perspective over time.
◊ It is usually unknown how much creative work is really needed day-to-day. Therefore, sometimes these employees end up doing other tasks they don’t want to do, leading to turnover that hurts your brand.
Freelance writers, designers, photographers, videographers, web designers and other marketing creatives are a mainstay of the business world. At the same time, the market is full of both excellent workers and those who will disappear without a word. When you find a good freelancer, they offer a dedicated resource your marketing department assembles according to need without the long-term commitment of an in-house hire.
- The Pros:
◊ You’ll maintain control over the length of your commitment and your budget.
◊ The freelancer’s experience brings new perspective and high-quality outcomes to your project.
◊ Scaling projects by hiring freelancers is an easy way to execute a marketing campaign quickly.
- The Cons:
◊ Working with a freelancer requires project management and potentially work like setting up interviews with subject matter experts for content.
◊ You may invest a lot of time in a freelancer who suddenly becomes unavailable, leaving you in a bind.
◊ Someone may claim to be skilled at something, then return a product you can’t even use, resulting in a bad investment.
4. Boutique Agencies
The last decade has seen an explosion in boutique creative agencies that serve marketing needs with a laser focus on some specific creative discipline. You can find design shops that only focus on brand, video production companies that only do video, and content agencies that exclusively write. These boutique agencies can serve as a fantastic supplement to your in-house team or even fulfill your entire creative need with the leadership of your Marketing Director
- The Pros:
◊ Unlike freelancers, you know this team of creatives is skilled at the craft they are working in.
◊ These groups usually collaborate with your internal resources and teach them best practices and processes.
◊ One vendor to be a point of contact for specific questions on marketing elements like video, content, or PR can help solve critical problems quickly.
- The Cons:
◊ Due to high specialization, services may come at a premium.
◊ Someone on your team needs to serve as a point-of-contact and manager of collaboration with these vendors, which can be a job in itself.
◊ A lack of industry-specific experience may sometimes make it difficult for these groups to get up-to-speed quickly.
Find Your Creative Fit
As with any aspect of running your business, it’s important to explore all of your options when it comes to hiring creative talent. It may be your first instinct to post a full-time position as soon as you have a need for copywriting, but would a freelancer be a better fit for your needs? Maybe you’re used to giving your full-service agency all of your creative work, but increasing demand might mean a boutique agency could come in to complement.
Keep in mind as you’re reading this that I myself am the owner of a creative agency, and I’m well aware that my perspective brings with it plenty of bias. My hope here isn’t necessarily to change your perspective on your marketing vendors or to speak for all creatives, but rather to offer a high-level overview of the most accessible resources at your brand’s disposal to accomplish your marketing goals. There’s a fit for everyone on this list, and it’s my hope this will help you find yours if you’re looking.