Digital Marketing Consultant VS Agency: What’s the Difference?

Digital Marketer vs Agency

If you are a business owner, business executive or have experience with marketing of any kind, you would have had some form of contact with digital marketing consultants or agencies. Questions we often get asked include: “What’s the difference between the two?” and “Which is better for my business?” Knowing the difference will likely help decision makers to choose the right fit for their business.


While agencies are often about getting as many clients as possible and retaining these clients through the use of binding contracts, a digital marketing consultant tends to work with a few select clients. Some consulting firms (such as Bark Consulting) do not believe in contracts at all, and work in good faith on the principle that there will be no issues with regards to payments for a job well done.

While there is nothing wrong with how agencies operate per se (indeed agencies will have bigger teams and can therefore handle more clients) a consulting agency will more likely have a personalised approach. In practice, an agency will likely tell you that they are the experts in their field and you should leave everything up to them, whereas a digital marketing consultant will be more inclined to take a vested interest in your business and thereafter use their skills and experience to help reach marketing goals set by business owners.


Having teams within teams working on a single project with one goal in mind can often leave marketing strategies and campaign execution disjointed. Bureaucracy and inflexibility with regards to processes and red tape can often result in an impasse and deadlines being missed. While there are obvious benefits and advantages to having teams tackle large campaigns, in an age where the customer journey and experience is of the utmost importance, having a strategy conceived and executed by a single professional has its merits.

Level of Influence

Typically, agencies consist of a few experienced individuals at the top fleshed out by a smattering of newbies and interns doing the groundwork. Digital marketing consultants, on the other hand, often boast senior level cross-discipline experience. With years of experience (often spanning multiple industries) consultants tend to operate at senior levels, speaking the language of the ‘C’ suite. This ability to be as comfortable in a boardroom as they are in front of a laptop makes successful consultants a breed of their own who can truly impact business operations at the highest level.


With lower overheads and a business ecosystem that relies on personal connections as opposed to mass-targeting and large teams of salespeople, consultancies tend to be more affordable than agencies. That said, this fact does not translate into a lesser service. Conversely, with a high degree of focus, attention and accountability resting on the shoulders of the few, consultancies often offer services that supersede the machine-like output typical of large agencies.

Bark Consulting

Ad Age said it best in one of their recent articles, aptly titled Consultancies Rising: “The growth [in consultancies] means that executives at some of the world’s most established agencies are looking over their shoulders.” At Bark Consulting, we sit proudly in the consultancy corner and take pride in our ethical, personalised service. Say hello and start the conversation that will change the way you deal with the digital marketing industry in South Africa.

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