Written by Caroline Cox on Sep 27 , 2019

When you’re searching for a partner to help boost your company’s marketing ROI, you’ll likely come across both consultants and agencies.

They offer similar services and may even promise similar results. So, how do you know which one to choose?

A marketing consultant is a person who works with a company or brand to create and implement marketing strategies. A consultant usually helps create a detailed marketing plan, messaging, and methods for spreading the word about your product or business, and monitors the results.

Alternatively, a marketing agency is defined as “offering a broad range of services to help you implement an integrated marketing strategy for all your brand goals.” Often, this translates to a team of experts you work with on various campaigns, ad initiatives, and more. In some cases, consultants can even partner with an agency themselves.

Still not quite sure what differences exist between the two? Read on for a breakdown of the pros and cons of each.

HawkSEM blog: Marketing Agencies vs. Consultants

When searching for ways to boost your digital marketing ROI, you’ll likely come across both consultants and agencies. (Image via Unsplash)

Marketing Consultant: Cons

When you hire a marketing consultant, you’re often hiring a one-stop shop. That means one person tasked with not only your marketing strategy but the strategies for their other clients as well. With all that juggling, it can be tough to find a marketing consultant that’s as available as you need them to be.

And because there are only so many hours in a day, marketing consultants often adopt a “set it and forget it” mentality when it comes to paid search and pay-per-click (PPC) efforts in the interest of bandwidth, which means less time spent optimizing or drilling down into what’s working and what’s not. 

Marketing Consultant: Pros

For those with smaller budgets, a marketing consultant may be the best way to go. You may not get as much optimization or testing with your strategy, but if you’re just starting out, consultants can be a cost-effective option. And, since they’re typically a one-person team, they may have more wiggle room when it comes to negotiating or working with your budget. 

With a consultant, you’ll always know who you’re dealing with. You can build a one-on-one relationship with that person and know exactly who you’re communicating with at any time.

Plus, a marketing consultant can work with you to solve problems you don’t have answers to, while a bigger company may opt for an agency because they’ve already identified problems internally, but they don’t have the time or expertise to fix them.

Marketing Agency: Cons

Whereas a marketing consultant is a single person focused on strategy, a marketing agency typically provides a team focused on both strategy and execution. That often means there are multiple experts at your disposal.

But this, of course, comes with a cost. Marketing agencies often have a higher fee because of their more robust roster of offerings. It’s like the saying goes: You get what you pay for.

There’s also the matter of access. Because marketing agencies are so hands-on, they may require access to your CRM and other various systems. While it isn’t a requirement, not having this level of access — or not having approval from higher-ups to give the agency this access — may mean more work on your end to properly implement strategies and get things done. 

Marketing Agency: Pros

Biased, us? Well, yes. But we still think there are plenty of pros worth listing here that give (good) agencies an edge. For starters, you’ll likely find that a consultant doesn’t come with the same level of resources an agency can provide. From blogs and guides to webinars, along with relationships with the likes of Google and Bing, an agency can’t be beat. 

With an agency, even if you’ve got just one point of contact, you’re also getting access to experts in all aspects of digital marketing, from SEO and paid search to PPC and everything in between.
Plus, if you want to scale your company (and who doesn’t?), you probably want to partner with a company that can scale with you. More often, that means a marketing agency. 

Bigger teams are also more likely to have the bandwidth for constant testing while staying up to date on the latest industry developments, releases, and success stories. This means your strategy will stay optimized and on the cutting edge — not outdated.

HawkSEM blog: Marketing Agencies vs. Consultants

Marketing agencies are often a team of experts you work with on campaigns, ads, and more. (Image via Unsplash)

The Takeaway

As you can see, there are pros and cons to both of these options for digital marketing management — it all depends on your needs and goals. Overall, the main differences between the two come down to budget, time, and bandwidth.

If you have a team that can internally test and implement ideas from a consultant, go for it. But if you’d rather have a team of experts to create and optimize strategies for you, you’ll want to look at an agency.

Here at HawkSEM, not only do we provide the expertise of an agency, but we set ourselves apart through no annual contracts, a patented ConversionIQ optimization system, and a steadfast dedication to getting you the ROI you deserve.

Caroline Cox

Caroline Cox

Caroline is HawkSEM's content marketing manager. She uses her more than 10 years of professional writing and editing experience to create SEO-friendly articles, educational thought leadership pieces, and savvy social media content to help market leaders create successful digital marketing strategies. She's a fan of seltzer water, print magazines, and huskies.

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