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Why (and How) to Work With a Small Digital Agency

When you’re planning a new website or digital marketing strategy there are three basic routes you could go down:

  • Hiring a freelancer (or several freelancers)
  • Working with a small digital or web agency
  • Working with a big digital or web agency

 Why a Small Digital Agency Works for our Clients

You can guess which choice we think you should make so we’re not going to list out the pros and cons of each strategy here. However, these are the advantages you get when you hire a (good) small digital agency:

Less pricey than a large agency

With large digital agencies comes overheads. To compete for the best talent, wages have to be competitive and employers often add company perks into the mix (onsite gymnasiums, pool tables, offsite team activity days,etc.) Anyone want to guess who ultimately pays for that?

Smaller agencies don’t need to push that boat quite as far out and can therefore offer better rates for their clients. This doesn’t mean there is a sacrifice of talent either. Small web agencies often attract people with experience of working for bigger companies but who prefer the vibe of a smaller team.

Wider set of skills and styles than an individual freelancer

There are many talented freelancers out there but they will all have their own area of specialism. For example, they might have a strong design background, be meticulous coders or excel at social media marketing.

While you could achieve a better skills mix by outsourcing a project to various different freelancers, you then have to play the role of co-ordinator. With an agency, the team managers and collaborative software handle this aspect of the project.

With an agency, each employee will bring their unique set of skills to each project. The end result is a more balanced website or digital marketing approach with each element given full attention.

You could compare this approach with renovating a house. You could employ a single builder with some skill in each area but you are more likely to be happy with the final result if you get a building contractor in who can orchestrate electricians, carpenters, plumbers and the other trades.

Why Many Projects Ultimately Fail

The quality of the final product will depend as much on the relationship between your project team and the digital agency involved as it does on the collective skills of the digital agency.

On the one hand, a business owner or project team that is overly prescriptive and controlling in their approach will not benefit as much from the experience and skills of the agency professionals.

This is a wasted opportunity.

After all, web designers are aware of the latest trends in design, the most effective content management platforms for different types of business, the best use of colour, font and space to create visual impact, etc. Marketing professionals are adept at managing the engagement with customers that all businesses need to thrive. Copywriters understand how to use words to persuade customers to take specific actions or to convey the tone of a brand.

On the other hand, a business owner or project team that is too ‘hands-off’ or vague give a web agency too little purchase on the brand. If you have never thought about your brand, it is impossible for even the most intuitive agency members to create a strong identity on your behalf.

In both scenarios above, the end result is often disappointment.

In the first case, your website and marketing is likely to be self-serving and based on personal preference rather than what website visitors want. You might be delighted with the appearance of the final product but feel let down when the expected interest doesn’t materialise or users express dissatisfaction with their experience.

In the second case, you will probably feel that the final product looks great and performs brilliantly but is ‘not quite you’. Over time you will start noticing what is missing and will probably eventually opt for an expensive rebrand.

Making the Relationship Work for you

So what can you or your project team do to add value and make sure that you get the balance right for your project?

From you or your team, the agency will need an overall vision and strong communication channels. The more colour, life and meaning you can inject into your brand, the easier it will be for them to really understand your business identity. By accepting an element of flexibility, you will then empower the agency team to bend all of their talent and experience towards building a website that is aesthetically powerful, delivers optimal user experience and creates engagement with your target audience – all while remaining consistent with your brand message.

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