11 min read

Marketing is dead.

You’ve probably seen a headline like this in the last year. Maybe you saw Gartner’s 2018-2019 CMO survey where marketing spend is slightly (0.01%) down from last year. Or maybe you read this Harvard Business Review article back in 2012

But marketing is far from dead. In fact, because of how quickly anyone can start a business, how simple it is to get a product to market, and how easy it is to throw up a website that looks half-decent – marketing is more important than ever. 

What makes your business different from the ten other businesses who appear to do the same thing you do? 

And more importantly, how do you convince your audience of that difference? 

And perhaps the most important question of all: 

WHO is going to do it for you?

How to Hire for Marketing

You’ve got options:

  1. You can ignore marketing and task it to interns, admin staff, or call it “sales” and continue to use dated outbound tactics.
  2. You can contract different marketing freelancers for a variety of tasks and projects.
  3. You can hire a marketing team.
  4. You can hire a marketing agency.

Every option has pros and cons. Let’s dig into them:

Assign Marketing to Other Staff

Sales team, interns, “communication” directors, etc…

Pros:

  • Very cheap

Cons:

  • No expertise
  • Marketing will wind up on the backburner

You wouldn’t trust your custodian to do customer service. You probably wouldn’t trust your IT team to handle finances. So why do so many businesses let other roles handle pieces of their marketing?

Probably because most see it as a necessary evil. 

They’ve heard of marketing’s importance, but think they can move the needle for their company by having an intern handle their social media. They can then proceed to check a box and sleep easy – not realizing they’re missing out on a massive opportunity to grow their business.

The other route many businesses take is assigning marketing to their sales team. But these employees operate as an outbound sales team – making cold calls, prospecting, managing accounts, and nurturing relationships.

There’s no denying these tactics are rather outdated. Almost 75% of companies in the world claim to “primarily conduct inbound marketing.” 

In addition, based on a June 2018 study, Hubspot found that 53% of companies see higher ROI from inbound marketing tactics.

Can you guess that we wouldn’t recommend assigning marketing tasks to non-specialized staff? Put together a real marketing team and strategy: one that keeps the phone ringing, works closely with your sales team, and isn’t a handful of summer interns.

Contract / Hire Multiple Freelancers

This can be a slippery slope. There are some pros, but mostly cons (in our opinion):

Pros:

  • Probably cost efficient in the short term
  • You can hire specialists for each marketing channel

Cons: 

  • High risk of your marketing lacking centrality and uniformity
  • Lack of stability – can’t always count on freelancers
  • Hard to rally 5 or 6 different projects around the same goal

This is an approach that can work if there’s a central member of your team with the skills and knowledge to rally every individual around a common goal. But that’s a tall task – especially if that team member has other responsibilities and clients.

Hire a Marketing Team

Hiring a full marketing team is a great option – if you can afford it. 

Pros:

  • An in-house team knows the product and sales process better than anyone
  • The team’s full focus, time, and energy is on growing your business
  • The team can work very closely with sales

Cons:

  • Even if you have a lean team (3-4), you’re looking at a minimum of $30k per person or $120,000/year on salaries alone (and for that salary, you won’t be able to get any specialists).

Whether you’re hiring new employees or you already have a marketing team, who do you need in what seats? What skill sets should they have? Check out this handy guide to assess skill sets.

Overall, you want a team that’s curious, data-driven, and able to communicate well. 

For starters, you need a director or manager. Someone well-rounded, experienced, proficient in most areas. This person needs to be a great leader and able to create a strategy that moves the needle.

After hiring a manager / director role, you would want team members specialized in each area of modern marketing:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Paid Advertising (Google Ads, Social Ads, Display Ads)
  • Content Marketing
  • Analytics
  • Web Design / Development
  • Branding
  • PR

Your specialists don’t necessarily need a ton of experience, but they need to be quick learners, adaptable, and on board with your overall strategy.

This is the kind of marketing team that has the potential to grow your company big time. However, this approach can be costly. 

A Director of Marketing along with 5-6 specialist could run you around $300,000/year in salaries. For some, this just isn’t realistic. So what other options do you have?

Download Your Free Comparison Guide

See all the pros and cons of your hiring options in one easy to use guide.

Hire a Marketing Agency

Better yet – partner with a marketing agency. Partnering with an agency brings its own pros and cons – and they can vary greatly depending on the quality of the agency. 

Digital marketing is a relatively new field, so the number of practitioners who lack credibility and experience is high. The stories of people getting ripped off – whether the agency is doing it intentionally or not – are rampant. 

However, a partnership with a truly great agency can be one that changes the course of your company.

Pros

  • Access to an entire team of specialists who live and breathe digital marketing
  • A much lower cost point than hiring a team of your own specialists
  • Having a team of fresh eyes on your marketing strategy

Cons

  • Having to catch a separate team up on your goals and strategies
  • An external team – not interacting with the rest of your company daily

We want to reiterate that the pros and cons here can look vastly different between two agencies. 

The Hub and Spoke Marketing Approach

You’re probably familiar with the hub and spoke methodology. The analogy is used across a range of disciplines. Think about a wheel: the idea is there’s a hub in the center: a foundation. Coming from the hub are spokes: different pieces of the overall wheel. The spokes are important, but the hub is central.

When it comes to hiring for marketing, you want your wheel to be strong. And if we’re being honest, most marketing agencies aren’t cut out to be your entire marketing wheel.

Not to toot our own horns, but we pride ourselves on being able to understand our clients’ business models, their industries, their strategy, their customers, and their core messaging – but we can’t possibly know it better than them. 

Overall business goals must come from within, but a good agency can put a strategic marketing plan around those business goals. 

A handful of firms out there have the capacity and skill to handle every aspect of your marketing for you, but the price tag on that is likely the same as hiring internally.

With that in mind, we’d like to present the hub and spoke marketing team:

Hire an in-house Director of Marketing / Marketing Manager / VP of Marketing (your hub).

Depending on your size and marketing budget, hire a couple specialists (spokes).

Hire a marketing agency for overall strategy help + the channels not covered – use them for all their worth, lean on them for overall strategy, and utilize their specialties.

Consider contracting for single projects (for instance, depending on your business, you probably don’t need a full-time, in-house web designer).

So here’s an example: You’re the owner of a landscape design company. You’re headed into off season and know you need to invest in marketing now to keep your busy season busy.

You know your budget, and that you need help. This would be a solid hub and spoke approach for you:

  • Director of Marketing (full time): this person knows marketing, they have experience growing businesses, they are a generalist with maybe a few specializations
  • Social Media Manager (full time): someone skilled in all things social, familiar with all platforms, able to build an audience. Some experience in branding and PR.
  • Web Developer (agency): you need a website designer and developer to create your website and then contract them on an ongoing basis for maintenance and updates
  • SEO + Ads Specialist (agency): you hire an agency to help you grow your business via search (a huge marketing channel)

Another approach might be more lean, with a single Marketing Manager, an agency team, and an occasional contracted project.

The key is that all the right people are in the right seats. A weak hub or an inefficient spoke can deter the wheel’s progress.

With a strong hub that can rally all spokes around a clear strategy and specialized spokes to keep things moving forward, the marketing wheel fires on all cylinders. Allowing you to get back to running your business without worrying about day-to-day marketing. 

Whatever your approach to staffing, make sure your team is proficient in reporting on marketing.

Brooks Manley

Author Brooks Manley

More posts by Brooks Manley

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