Digital Consultant vs Digital Agency – What’s The Difference?

Written by Mandy Brasser

Should you hire a Digital Consultant or a Digital Agency? Let’s clarify both, the pros and cons of each, and which one you should hire for your digital needs.
Digital Consultant vs Digital Agency Australia

Digital Consultant vs Digital Agency – Which One Is Best?

As one of Australia’s highly reputable digital service provider directories, the debate between digital consultant vs digital agency comes up frequently. Which is the better option for your business? Plus, what is the difference between the two?

In many cases, if you’re here, you’re already decided it’s time to get some help to execute on your digital marketing strategies and services. We know that by asking the right questions can help you select best provider for you. However, you might want to further clarify and consider what type of digital marketing provider that would suit your needs. If you’re not careful, hiring the wrong person or team for the job can be a recipe for disaster. As a business owner, it’s critical to hire the best digital marketing expert to meet your marketing goals.

Is a Digital Consultant or Digital Agency best for you?

Before we get stuck into the comparison, let’s define exactly what they are first.

Digital Consultant Definition

Digital Marketing Consultant Australia

A Digital Marketing Consultant is typically an Expert or Specialist who operates on their own, or with a very small team to support them. They are the sole person that you would primarily be interacting with on a day-to -day basis to execute on your digital marketing needs. A consultant may be a generalist in all areas of digital marketing, otherwise and more commonly, they have particular area of expertise, such as Email Marketing, Social Media Marketing, Branding, Facebook Ads and more.

Digital Consultant Pros

As Consultants operate without a massive team, this can allow a business to work incredibly close with one person and no risk having to be passed off to work with someone else. You may have more flexibility with a Consultant to create custom solutions to meet your specific needs. Those who specialise will also likely have a very deep knowledge, high level of technical skills and usually a vast array of experience in a particular topic and/or niche because they aren’t trying to learn and keep up with the trends of all other digital marketing areas.

Digital Consultant Cons

On the flip side, a notable con working with a Digital Consultant is that it can expose your business if there is no backup in place if the Consultant goes on holidays or becomes too busy. They may also not have the collective wisdom and range of clientele that an agency can serve to tap into additional insights and learnings to apply to your business.

Digital Agency Definition

A Digital Marketing Agency is more structured business with a larger team who supports the execution of digital marketing services for their clients. Like Consultants, you can have digital agencies that specialise in a particular area of digital marketing e.g. Google Ads Agency, Marketing Automation Agency and more. You can also have full – service marketing agencies that cover a wide range or even all of your digital needs. With an agency however, you could work with multiple individuals, as you often have a Strategist, a Project Manager, a team of experts, Testing personnel and other personnel with a range of skill sets and levels of experience.

Digital Agency Pros

Typically, there is a stronger focus on project management and there are more processes in place to support a large clientele base through an agency. With that comes more backups and support should your main contact/s have holidays or leave. Also, the range of skills, experiences and clients that an agency is exposed too is typically greater and can provide important lessons and digital marketing trends to pass onto your business to implement or avoid if not working for others.

Digital Marketing Agency Definition

Digital Agency Cons

As bigger agencies work with a larger client base, you may not have the responsiveness that you may have from an individual Consultant. You may also be considered just a number in the wheel depending on the agency. You may need to repeat yourself with working with various team members and work will less experienced agency staff. Finally, both a positive and a possible con, you may need to follow their process/system, therefore not allowing for any custom solutions. You may also be locked into a specific ongoing retainers with minimum durations (e.g. 6 months) when working with a digital marketing agency.

The Comparison – Consultant vs Agency

At the end of the day, you need to choose a Consultant and Agency that aligns with your needs. You must consider your budget, your marketing goals, expertise, past results, bandwidth, and the level of support you need (to name just a few). Broadly speaking, if you are looking for a one – offproject basis, then a specialist Consultant may be perfect to tap into their expertise to get the job done. If you have a large list of ongoing digital needs, you may want to tap into the collective wisdom and structured support of a more full-service or bigger agency.

I encourage you to really consider engaging an expert or a bigger agency.

My Experience with Consultants vs Agencies

Digital Agency Cons

Back in 2012 I engaged with a small digital marketing agency. It was a big investment at the time, and they ended up going bankrupt and I lost my investment and had nothing to show for it 🙁 Also years ago, I paid a Consultant to put together a digital strategy and marketing plan. Unfortunately, she didn’t take into account my time poor schedule and her entire plan was completely free labour intensive work to build my list…

We all have war stories of shocking cases where things don’t work out. Perhaps you have some too?

I can also share, I just engaged a Consultant to do a rebrand for one of your brands, and it was the best investment I’ve made in years. Then I’ve had a client engage an online advertising agency that’s helped him have record selling months. Without them he happily admits he would still be twiddling his thumbs.

Digital Marketing Agency Team

Please consider all options 🙂

Next Steps To Hiring A Digital Service Provider

Digital Media Consultant

Whether it’s an individual Consultant or Agency, get clear on what exactly you need, what you want and interview at least 3 digital marketing providers. Be sure to cover off these must know questions as you short list and find the best digital experts for you to help with your business growth and focus on getting a positive return on investment whoever you go with.

Who knows you might be surprised who comes out the winner.

Good luck!

If you’re looking for a digital expert to help you with your automation and marketing efforts, check out our Australia digital agency directory to help you to search, find, shortlist and hire digital partners for your business.

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