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Growth Hacking Agencies vs. Consultants: Which is right for you?

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April 28, 2023

Growth Hacking Agencies vs. Consultants: Which is right for you?

In the world of marketing growth hacking is gaining momentum and has become an increasingly important aspect of the industry. This relatively new approach, focuses on rapid experimentation to find and test the most effective ways to grow a business. This is often a resource-intensive process that requires expertise and knowledge across a variety of domains. And this is precisely the reason that agencies and consultants are so prominent in the world of growth marketing.

External parties such as a growth hacking consultant or agency are sought out when expertise or time is lacking internally. These parties are able to bring in a fresh perspective and specialized skills. Through the lens of growth marketing, they are able to help with every step of the way. From strategic development all the way to implementation, all while helping your customer base grow.

Naturally, the question comes about, what exactly is the difference between these two? Are they not, in essence, the same? And if they are different, how do you make the right decision for your business?

This blog will dive into the advantages and disadvantages of a growth hacking agency as compared to growth hacking consultants. It will help you decide on the best option for your business needs. We provide practical tips along the way to help you make the right choice.

The Positives

Starting with the positive, there are four linked benefits that a growth hacking agency can provide. There are more benefits that can be discussed but this blog will focus on the following:

  • Expertise
  • Resources
  • Scalability
  • Implementation

Let’s take a close look at each one.

A linked chain of positives
The positive aspects of working with agencies

Expertise

One of the main advantages of a growth hacking agency is the breadth of skills. These are available to you as a client at any given moment. Agencies consist of a full team of expert growth hackers. So whether it's PPC, content, design, or anything in between, partnering with an agency gives you access to it all.

In terms of growth hacking consultants, they have a lot of knowledge. Yet, it is near impossible for them to match the knowledge level of an entire team. Hence, depending on your business needs, you may need several consultants to capture the expertise that an agency possesses.

Resources

Second, but as important, is access to resources. We will look at the access growth hacking agencies and consultants have to resources, in ordered sequence.

  • Agencies can access top-notch tools, software, and technologies to deliver optimal results for their clients.
  • Many sophisticated marketing tools are cost-effective only if used by several people.

This sets consultants back as it is less cost-effective for them to purchase the same tools that agencies use.

  • Consultants have limited access to resources which possibly limits their effectiveness.
  • However, consultants often have access to alternative tools. In some cases, these alternative tools may not be able to perform in the same way.

Furthermore, agencies are often at the forefront of innovations in the industry. Since they have sufficient resources, they are able to invest these into the development of both their people and their service. Allowing them to pioneer within marketing by offering fresh ideas and innovative new services. For example demand generation (you can learn more about this one by checking out our previous blog!).

Scalability

Thirdly, agencies have a much higher capacity and can (and do) work on several different clients at the same time. This also means that working with agencies is easily scalable. A growth hacking agency can quickly and easily adjust to your business needs at any given moment.

For instance, if your business decides to launch a new campaign, it may require doubling the current project hours. In this case, an agency would be able to adapt to this.

By comparison, this would be quite difficult to achieve with a growth hacking consultant. Consultants have a limited capacity which they have to spread across their clients. A change in project size can be difficult to handle since they don’t have additional team members to rely on.

Implementation

Lastly, and closely connected to the previous points, growth hacking agencies are able to help in implementation. This is where agencies shine, due to:

  • the abundance of available resources
  • the ease of scalability,
  • and having time and space to put plans into action

Growth hacking agencies can either implement the plan themselves or guide you along the process. In contrast, for consultants, this might be more difficult due to their limited time and resources.

The Negatives

As with any coin, there are two sides to this comparison and where there are positives there are also negatives. In this section, we’ll highlight three potential downsides of working with an agency.

Cost

Agencies are expensive; this is a given. When you hire a growth hacking agency you hire a full team of specialised individuals that give their input and work alongside you. In comparison, with growth hacking consultants you are hiring one individual which is usually more budget-friendly.

For small businesses, an agency may be out of reach. Especially if the agency has fixed pricing for all clients, regardless of size. However, this does not mean that consultants are inexpensive. Quite the contrary in fact: consultants are highly knowledgeable and some have years of experience. This translates into a high hourly rate.

Communication

When working with people, clear communication is always essential. However, the more people involved, the more complex clear communication becomes.

  • Working with an agency, you must communicate and coordinate with an entire team of people. Many involved people increase the chance of miscommunication.
  • Working with a growth hacking consultant you only communicate with one independent consultant. A consultant will involve fewer people.

For example, you as a client make a request to the client lead of your project. Then, the lead relays this information to a different internal member. Since there is an indirect middleman in this situation, the chances of miscommunication and misunderstanding increase. On the other hand, consultants are in direct contact with the client which can minimise miscommunication.

Lack of Control

Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that agencies are a separate business from their clients. Likely, they have their own working structures in place. Not all agencies are willing to fully adapt to the way of working of their clients, resulting in less control over the process for the client.

This is a risk that is also present with consultants, however, since they are single individuals it is likely easier to coordinate with and integrate them into the client’s way of working. Thus resulting in more control for the client.

How to Choose the Right Option for Your Business

As discussed, there are both pros and cons between agencies and consultants, therefore, it is important to take into account the correct considerations when evaluating which decision is the correct one for your business.

Defining Expectations

Firstly, ensure that you define the factors that are important to you as a business owner. Some things that might be important to consider are:

  • What is the budget for this collaboration?
  • What kind of skills and expertise are must-haves for this project? Are there any nice-to-haves that are not essential?
  • What are the speed and scale needed to make this project a success?
  • What is the goal of this collaboration and how will you define success?

A 4 step plan to define expectations
The process to define expectations

Clarify Communication

Secondly, as we discussed the importance of clear and effective communication, this should be a deciding factor. When choosing any external party to collaborate with it is important that you, your business and your business needs feel heard and understood. If you are unable to align in vision, then you should likely consider an alternative party. Furthermore, ensure that the party you choose will have sufficient availability to address questions you might have and that their desired frequency and style of communication match yours.

Determine Necessary Expertise

Another important consideration, as previously mentioned, is the skills and expertise you require in an agency or consultant. Naturally, you can read about the areas someone is specialised in through their website and you get get a clearer sense of this during the sales process. (You can find some tips on how to do this in our previous blog).

However, it is also important to evaluate skill and expertise in an objective manner which can be done through independent sources. You can do this by reading through customer testimonials and reviews on third-party sources such as Sortlist or Clutch. Additionally, when possible we would recommend talking to past clients, this can help you determine whether you have chosen the right party to collaborate with.

Conclusion

Overall, there is no one-size-fits-all decision. Growth hacking agencies and consultants come with their own set of unique benefits and challenges that must be navigated during a collaboration.

Depending on the requirements of your project, some of the positives may be more important or vice versa, the negatives may be more detrimental. Additionally, the evaluation process can be difficult so ensure that you use available resources to your advantage such as checking reviews and customer testimonials. Lastly, as with any business decision, it is important to keep your business goals and objectives in mind in order to better evaluate which of the two is better suited for your business needs.

And if you decide to opt for a growth hacking agency in Europe, you know where to find us!

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