I was recently emailing with a Credo client who contacted me because he had reached a certain point in his bootstrapped SaaS business and was ready to investigate working with a professional marketer to help him grow it through great SEO and content marketing.
We introduced him to two SaaS SEO agencies who were both within his budget, as discussed with this founder on the phone.
Ultimately though, this founder decided to hire someone locally that they met in person, and through a family member. The person they hired ostensibly has SEO experience and is good at it, though Credo has not verified this.
The truth is, this happens quite often.
Companies looking to hire a marketing provider will often prefer to go with a local agency over an agency located elsewhere.
In fact, Google almost seems to encourage this with their results for generic queries like [seo agency] that show local results based on your location:
I will note that a query like [ecommerce seo agency] does not really return localized results and there is no map pack:
Is hiring a local agency a good idea?
But is hiring a local-based consultant/agency a good idea?
The answer, like many things in life, is “it depends”.
In this post I am going to spell out the pros and cons, in my experience and opinion, of hiring a marketing provider who is close to you geographically to help you with your business.
There are absolutely reasons to do it, but there are equally as many situations where it doesn’t matter or could even be a bad decision.
Local vs Remote vs Outsourced
Before we get into the pros and cons of hiring a local-based marketing provider, let’s define a few terms.
Often, the dichotomy painted is between what I call “local-based” and “outsourced.”
A local-based marketing provider is someone/a firm within your local proximity. I live in Denver, and so a local-based marketing provider would be someone in the Denver metro area.
An “outsourced” provider is most often used to describe someone overseas. So for me, an “outsourced” provider would be someone not in the US and usually someone in India, Philippines, or similar.
But there is a third type that we need to bring into the conversation, the idea of the remote agency or consultant.
By “remote”, I mean someone/a firm in the middle of “local-based” and “outsourced.” This would be a firm or consultant that is based in your same country/market, but not necessarily in your metro area. A business in San Francisco working with a consultant in Atlanta would therefore be, for the purposes of this article, working with a “remote” consultant.
(Potential) pros of hiring a local-based marketing provider
The pros of hiring a local-based marketing provider include:
- easier to have in-person meetings;
- local knowledge and connections for local-based businesses;
- could be cheaper than someone elsewhere, depending on location;
- potentially quicker communication.
Let’s flesh out each of these in order.
In-person meetings are easy(er)
If you hire someone in your local area, then you may be able to meet with them in-person more often than if you hire someone who is not within your physical proximity. Of course, since 2020 this has ceased to be a possibility and an advantage for these firms.
A local provider may be able to come to your office to pitch you or go over recommendations, can take you to lunch, and may even know people in common with you who can vouch for them.
This isn’t always true, and the best agencies recognize that there is a sunk cost with in-person meetings. Unless your budget with them is substantial (in comparison with their other clients), you likely will not get more attention than other clients simply because you are local.
Local knowledge and connections
A local-based marketing provider has local knowledge and may have local connections that can help them get your company more attention more quickly than a provider based elsewhere could.
That said, this is all contingent on your business being local-focused as well (such as a restaurant) and thus set up to benefit from that local knowledge and those local connections.
Price: could be cheaper
Depending on where you live, it may cost you less to hire a marketing firm in your local area than one located elsewhere.
A marketing firm in Kalamazoo Michigan will be cheaper than a marketing firm in New York City.
You do have to balance if a local firm has the same amount of experience and expertise as someone/a firm in a potentially more expensive location. You do get what you pay for, but you also shouldn’t pay more than you have to.
Communication: may be easier
As mentioned at the top, if your marketing firm is located near you then it may be easier to set up calls and communicate with them. If you care about them working the same hours that you do, then having them local is a boon.
The reality is that usually this does not matter at all, and with the current state of our internet and availability of not only email but also tools like Slack and Skype, communication can be a-synchronous.
(Potential) cons of hiring a local-based marketing provider
The cons of hiring a local-based marketing provider include:
- may not be as experienced or as qualified as someone located elsewhere;
- could be more expensive than someone elsewhere, depending on location;
- professionalism/polish/quality of work could vary;
There are absolutely could be marketing agencies in your area who are just as qualified to work with your business on the marketing channels you need as an agency in another location. This is especially true in cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, or the other large US cities.
But this isn’t always the case. Regardless, here are the things to look for in a local marketing agency to see if your hypotheses around why you want to hire someone local hold true.
Let’s flesh out each of these in order.
Experience/qualifications may lack
A local marketing firm, especially in a locale smaller than a major city, may not have access to talent of the same level as a firm located in another area or that hires people from anywhere.
If you limit your search to your local area, you may find a firm or consultant that has deep experience in your industry or with your type of business. But you also may not.
Expense can vary
As mentioned above, you might pay less when you hire a local firm but depending on your location you may also pay more than hiring an agency elsewhere.
An agency in New York City is probably more expensive than an agency in Kalamazoo Michigan. If the agency in Kalamazoo has more experience than the agency in New York, then you’d be smart to hire them and you’d get a better deal.
Professionalism/quality of work
In smaller areas, as we’ve already discussed, there is less access to great talent. Often what we have seen at Credo is that agencies in smaller locales tend to hire younger people and train them up. They can also do an incredible job of training and end up with phenomenal experienced employees who drive amazing results for their clients.
But the reality is, a local firm may not be as professional and polished as a firm located elsewhere. Then again, maybe they will be. You can’t rule someone out or in just because they are or are not in your local area.
Great work can be done from and found anywhere!
A few caveats and definitions
Before we wrap up, there are a few definitions and caveats I need to make.
First, Credo connects businesses looking to hire a digital marketing provider with the right digital marketing providers from within our vetted network, using our high touch approach. We do not specialize in helping clients hire someone in their local area, as we believe that great work is most often done from anywhere. That said, there are times that a local provider is the right choice. I have tried to not let this unduly influence the pros and cons above, though I do recognize that it may have snuck in.
Second, when I say “local-based” or “local” I mean “someone in your physical proximity.” There are those in the SEO space who call themselves “local” such as “local SEOs,” which is someone who specializes in helping physical location businesses rank. Agencies like these often have a set process that lets them track local rankings and grow their clients regardless of where the client or agency is located.
Third, when I say “marketing provider” I am including both agencies and consultants. I will also say that it can make a lot more sense to hire a consultant locally, because of the personal touch that comes with working with them, than it does an agency who you hire to simply scale your team. Plus, agencies are larger (2+ people, up to hundreds) and in our current time are largely remote or at least working from home in a large metro area.
Fourth, agencies and consultants are great for different types of projects. Agencies are great when you need services, such as campaigns being run for you. Consultants can sometimes do that but are usually quite laser-focused on one or two channels and don’t go outside of those (or shouldn’t). Consultants are often more consultative and rely on your internal team to implement.
If you’re hiring and not sure who to hire or what to look for, get in touch with us here to get started.