Bringing on marketing help can be a real challenge – it’s the whole reason Credo exists!

One of the biggest things to consider is how many different types of companies are available. Some marketing partners may focus on one or two areas. SEO, content marketing, and web development are just a few common specialties.

On the other hand, there are some companies that can give you all of the above services and more. In some cases, these businesses may be large corporate companies with many different branches, sometimes owned by franchisees. 

Both varieties can be beneficial to help you meet your marketing goals, no matter what industry you operate in. The key is understanding which scenarios are better for which type of marketing partner. 

In this article, we’ll offer a few examples in which either type may be preferable, plus some general examples on how to choose the right marketing firm for your needs.

Generalists may be better if you’re new to hiring

Whether you’re a founder branching out into digital marketing for the first time, or you’re moving to a new company, an inexperienced marketing client is typically best off working with a generalist company. 

Unless you have a specific sense of the kind of projects you need, it’s probably best to bring a generalist agency in that can help advise you based on their own experience. If you choose a reliable agency, they’ll probably have many years of history helping clients similar to you.

They may be able to anticipate issues before you have them or steer you clear of common obstacles using wisdom learned from previous campaigns.

Specific firms are best for a partial contribution

Some companies use a piecemeal approach to putting together a comprehensive marketing department. This typically means they have multiple sources for the various components that make up their collective marketing.

For example, you might have an in-house designer who is skilled with putting together simple social media graphics and enjoys the process. You might decide to combine their efforts with the work of a copywriting agency that specializes in developing text for digital marketing campaigns.

The challenge here often comes down to making sure all the separate components communicate well with each other. If you have multiple parties responsible for your marketing, they need to understand what the others are doing.

If there’s a lack of communication, you may get into a bad situation where one part of your team is doing one thing while the other works on something completely counter to the main objective. This creates more work to correct in the best case and could throw off your brand continuity in the worst cases.

Partial contributors are also helpful for seasonal businesses. Companies in certain sectors make a majority of their annual sales during the holidays, for example.

These kinds of businesses may choose to bring on a marketing partner for just a few months out of the year to fulfill a very specific role on their team – an SEO expert, a web writer for product pages, etc.

Generalists if you are growing quickly

Many companies looking for marketing help project their businesses to be much bigger in another year or even another quarter or two. If this is the case for your company, it’s best to be prepared by bringing on people that have a more generalist set of skills.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t have people in your marketing department who are particularly good at one type of skill. A good concept to think about here is the idea of a T-shaped marketer.

A T-shaped marketer is a person who knows a little bit about several different subjects but has deep expertise on one or two. For a more detailed example, check out this visual from Buffer:

General agency vs. specialist

The top two rows are indicators of a baseline level of knowledge they have about several different subject areas. On the third row, you can see two long concepts that jut out further than the others – content marketing and SEO.

In this example, those are the marketer’s two deep areas of expertise. At Buffer, it’s expected that team members have a baseline set of knowledge about the upper two rows, familiarity with the items in the third row, and a deep understanding of up to three specific channels.

This is a great way to hire as a growing startup that needs to split the difference between having particular skills on the team yet being able to maximize the most out of each hire. 

It’s not just start-ups – plenty of other small or mid-sized businesses use the T-shaped approach to hiring for many different areas, not just marketing. 

Specific firms if you know exactly what you need

In some cases, it’s easy to identify the missing piece in your marketing campaign. Maybe you’ve been running Facebook ads but every time it gets time to write the headline, it’s always a struggle that requires time from two or three different people.

Or perhaps you have all the ingredients necessary to build marketing pages and content, but no one on your team has the knowledge or expertise required to optimize a page for search engines to increase traffic.

These are situations where you would do the best working with a specialist. In an ideal case, you want to bring on someone that has seen and dealt with the type of scenario you are facing. There’s a much better chance of this happening when you work with a specialized firm.

Generalists if you have a smaller department

If you’re the kind of business that only has the ability to bring on a handful of people to your marketing team – say five or fewer – it’s probably better to work with generalists. In keeping with the T-shaped model above, most companies will hire generalists with different expertise.

For example, when hiring, you might create a marketing team that consists of a generalist with strong design skills, one with strong writing skills, and one with some technical or engineering knowledge. In this way, you have a solid framework for a team that can handle day-to-day marketing requirements in your business.

The same idea applies when bringing on outside help – you should find agencies that can give you a full stack of services that meets all of your needs if they are going to be the only resource you work with for marketing.

Finding the right resource is a new challenge

Understanding whether it’s best for your business to work with a company that offers one service or a range of them is only part of solving this challenge. Even if you know what kind of resource you want to engage, you still have to find and vet them.

Luckily, Credo makes this part a breeze.

Credo can connect you with our network of vetted digital marketing providers who have deep experience across the most common digital marketing disciplines like SEO, blogging, and more. Whether you’re looking for a single service rendered at high quality or want access to a full suite of marketing help, we can match you with the right providers for your needs.

If you’re ready to shorten the amount of time it takes you to bring on the marketing partner you need for consistent growth, schedule a free consultation with us today to learn how to get started