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Hiring Growth Marketing Consultants vs. FTEs vs. Agencies


June 22, 2021


October 27, 2021

You’ve created a business, customers like your product, and you’re ready to scale. Or maybe your company has been running steady for a while, but needs a push to get to the next level. Or perhaps you’re just trying to get ahead of the increasingly complex landscape of marketing channels, tactics, and digital tools. Now you need to decide what type of growth marketing team structure will help you tackle those challenges and grow your business. The right type of support can help you build out your team in a way that’s cost effective and results oriented, whether you choose to hire growth marketing consultants, a full-time employee, or an agency.

We know that every business is different and has distinct needs. We’ve put together a general framework to help you start to consider which staffing solution is best for you. Read on to learn how to make the right hiring decisions. And if you choose to go with a contractor, Right Side Up can help match you with the perfect expert from our extensive talent network of vetted growth marketing consultants. 

Embracing a Range of Growth Marketing Staffing Options

Even prior to the 2020 pandemic, remote and flexible work environments were slowly becoming the norm. And in the post-lockdown world, policies, tools, and cultural standards have largely shifted to not only accept, but in many cases, embrace workforces outside the traditional full-time, in-office setup. 

That means you have more options than ever before to create the growth marketing team of your dreams. By fulfilling your specific needs, a flexible approach to staffing can give you a leg up in your space. About 90% of companies believe a blended workforce of full-time employees and freelancers will offer them future competitive advantages.

Growth Marketing Consultants Offer Expert-Level Skills + Flexibility

More and more people are opting to ditch the rigidity of full-time employment for the more flexible consultant lifestyle. Because of this shift, the pool of highly skilled growth marketing consultants is continually growing and improving. And companies are turning to them for on-demand support to handle the specialized, expert-level functions that drive growth. 

The flexibility of hiring a contractor is a huge benefit for many companies. We recommend going with a growth marketing consultant for:

  • Short-term or part-time needs, like working with an email specialist for 20 hrs/week to build out a world class lifecycle program until the return justifies hiring a full-time email marketer
  • Temporary support, like covering for a team member that is on maternity leave, or coverage during an extended search for an FTE
  • Testing an unproven need, like experimenting with a new channel intelligently when you don't have the in-house expertise to do so
  • Immediate needs when you're unable to hire fast enough to meet revenue goals
  • Overcoming systematic recruiting challenges due to location, industry/product, below market compensation, or reputation problems
  • Taking advantage of the "modularity" of a model like Right Side Up, which allows you to adjust your support and pay for what you use vs. a fixed retainer or percentage of spend pricing 

Benefits of hiring a growth marketing consultant

Every staffing solution has its pros and cons. The benefits of hiring a growth marketing consultant often include:

  • Ability to acquire deep subject matter expertise
  • “Try before you buy” test run to ensure a good client/consultant fit
  • Flexibility to scale a consultant’s hours up or down and on or off
  • Fresh and unbiased perspectives

However, you’ll want to keep an eye out for these potential challenges:

  • Finding the right fit (skills, culture, and personality) at the right time
  • Lack of commitment to the mission (a more “mercenary” approach)
  • Difficulty succeeding in very senior or cross-functional roles

It might feel overwhelming to try to choose the perfect consultant for your exact needs at any given moment. But Right Side Up can help you find that person. We partner with hundreds of talented growth marketers to find the perfect match for our clients. Our consultants have worked with early-stage ventures, fast-growing tech companies, and well-established Fortune 500 teams like Uber, Netflix, Allbirds, Microsoft, and Zapier—just to name a few!

Investing in a Full-Time Growth Marketer

A full-time hire requires a high level of commitment and a steeper cost. But this route also offers many benefits if you’re looking for a long-term solution. Once the employee is onboarded and brought up to speed, they can be a solid asset for your company while continuing to learn and improve their functions on the team. 

A permanent addition can also increase your organization’s cross-functional capabilities, since it takes time and collaboration to streamline different backgrounds and skill sets into an efficient team dynamic. That magic is difficult to replicate with temporary employees that are solely focused on one project or task.

Because of the long-term benefits and greater overall potential, you should consider going with a full-time marketing hire for:

  • Senior-level roles like VPs and CMOs
  • Roles that are highly cross-functional
  • Building out core competencies that are essential to running the business (but note that contractors can help train and uplevel internal teams)

Benefits of investing in a full-time hire

This route also offers many benefits if you’re looking for a long-term solution, including:

  • Deep commitment to the work, which motivates excellence
  • Deep commitment to coworkers and clients, which helps build culture
  • Tendency to stick around longer than external resources
  • Greater ability to access organizational context and cross-functional resources, which can be critical for excellence

But before you decide to invest in hiring a full-time employee, keep in mind:

  • They typically don’t evolve as quickly as business requirements in terms of skills, seniority, and capacity
  • Great talent is hard to recruit and retain
  • There are social, financial, and cultural costs to making the wrong hire or incorrectly projecting staff levels
  • They are often more prone to groupthink and bound by institutional orthodoxy

Going all-in on a full-time hire is a big step, but you don’t have to make things official right from the start. If you’re not quite ready for a full-time hire, we’ve helped many companies find the right match through consultants, some of whom are eventually brought on as employees.

When to Consider a Marketing Agency

Like a full-time hire, bringing on an agency is often a more expensive, longer-term commitment. But for many situations, choosing the right experienced, reliable agency for your needs can be a smart choice.

Agencies often have playbooks for most business challenges. While that can lead to rigid or inflexible solutions, partnering with the right agency for your needs can deliver highly effective and efficient work. They already have full teams built out, likely have experience in your area of need, and can handle coordinating the moving pieces of a large or broad project. 

You should consider going with an agency if:

  • Your project requires many individuals to execute against one shared objective, like a full rebrand or website build
  • You lack internal capacity to oversee and track progress on a multi-stakeholder project on a regular basis
  • You want something “pre-packaged” and don’t have time for missteps

Benefits of hiring a growth marketing agency

Hiring an agency offers some significant benefits, including:

  • Specialized skill sets, added capacity, and access to more resources
  • Ability to onboard and scale quickly

But don’t forget that most agencies:

  • Require a high level of commitment
  • Tend to be expensive
  • Offer inflexible playbooks
  • Operate in a margin-sensitive manner

And it’s important to note that even if you hire an agency, you’ll still need an internal team member to play point person and ensure work is moving toward your overall objective.

A Hybrid Approach to Marketing Staffing

While there are pros and cons for hiring growth marketing consultants, full-time employees, and agencies, it really all depends on your business, what growth stage you’re in, and your specific needs. Often, a hybrid approach is best suited for maximum efficiency and results. 

Once you’ve made your staffing decisions—whether you hire a growth marketing consultant, full-time employee, or an agency—you’ll want to strategically set them up for success to drive the best results.

If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch at hello@rightsideup.co. Right Side Up can help you determine which path is best for your company, no strings attached, and connect you with the right growth marketing support.

Jes Parker is a writer and content marketer with experience creating B2B and consumer-facing assets that build brands and make complex concepts more human. She has worked with companies and nonprofits like Highstead Foundation, Trust for Public Land, Harvard University, the Museum of the City of New York, and Times Square Alliance to craft accessible and engaging content strategies.

Tariq has 15 years of experience overseeing and implementing performance marketing programs for high-growth SaaS and D2C companies including ezCater, Buildium, and LinkSquares.

Let's talk growth

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Let's talk growth

Get in touch

Let's talk growth

Get in touch