Today, businesses need to know their way around the digital world. In an increasingly multi channel business environment, they are urged to understand social media, content marketing, mobile trends, customer insights and expectations, website and advertising analytics, SEO and more.

The Choices

These areas of expertise are rapidly changing and complex if approached competently, and in response to this need, businesses have three choices.

  1. They can hire more staff that specialise in these areas
  2. They can hire an outside agency
  3. They can hire a digital consultant

The level of digital input required by a business will be influenced by the complexity of its business processes and at what stage of growth the business is at. Whilst each of the three options has its own merits, hiring a digital consultant can be the best choice. Lets take a look at each role.

#1. Hire more staff

A potential drawback with hiring full time staff is that in the early stages of digital change process, or indeed to manage existing multiple channels, a business may not need a full time employee. The costs associated with employing multiple salaried personnel can quickly add up, so cost is a key consideration, particularly if your business is a startup.

#2. Hire an agency

Hiring an agency addresses that issue, but agencies have their disadvantages as well. Although not always the case, many companies will find that an agency approach lacks a personal touch and clients can begin to feel like a number.

#3. Hire a digital consultant

A digital consultant can combine the expertise of an agency with far more flexibility, affordability and attention to the specific needs of each business. Digital consultants can work on short-term projects, devise strategy and advise on a digital roadmap best suited to the needs of the business.

Advantages of Employing a Digital Consultant

What does a digital consultant do? To some extent, the answer to that question is “what you need the consultant to do.” In other words, one of the first things an efficient digital consultant will do for your business is help you understand your digital needs. A Digital strategy should sit in alignment with your strategic business goals and be in tune with the financial targets of the business.

  • Does your company really need a presence on Twitter or Pinterest? Maybe you’d be better off on Google+ or YouTube. A digital consultant keeps abreast of the latest social trends and knows not only what’s new and what’s trending but also whether it is appropriate for your business.
  • A digital consultant will work with you to develop a complete strategy based on the goals and needs of your business. Savvy digital consultants have their eyes not only on what is happening now but also on what will be happening in six months or a year ahead.
  • A digital consultant will make sure that your online presence through website, social media and content production stay fresh as well as dealing with the technical side of things. This can include helping you to choose the platform on which you build your site to keeping abreast of mobile developments, Google search algorithm updates and so on.

Agency vs Digital Consultant

Of course, an agency can also do much of the above, so what are some of the other advantages of hiring a consultant instead? A consultant will be far more accessible. If your business has a quick question or concern, getting an answer can be as easy as shooting off an email or text or picking up the phone.

Furthermore, with a digital consultant, you can be assured that this access will be to someone with a high level of multi disciplinary expertise and experience; in an agency, this will not necessarily be the case because you will not have the same degree of choice as to who you work with.

A consultant can work with you for the short or long term and on a per project basis. Think about how rapidly personnel can transition to other positions within a company. If you work with the same agency over four or five years, will you be working with the same people that entire time?

In the modern era, a business can hardly afford to be without a digital consultant. Combining the reliability and access of a full-time employee with the cost savings and expertise of a tech savvy consultant is a sensible option for most businesses. As digital tech evolves and modern business processes become more digital media based, so employing a digital consultant on a per project or short term basis can provide you with a competitive edge.

This article first appeared on Tweak Your Biz Business Blog. Read the Tweak Your Biz Business Blog Here.