If you are a small business leader, odds are this question has crossed your mind:
“Should I hire someone in-house for marketing or continue to seek outside help?”
So many small business owners are afraid to hire marketing people internally. Where do you even start? And is there something wrong with keeping your marketing in the hands of an outside consultant?
Absolutely not. However, there comes a point for most businesses when you need to stop renting marketing and own it internally. Here’s why.
The difference between owning and renting marketing
First, let’s define what owning your marketing vs. renting your marketing means.
Renting marketing is when you seek outside help from a consultant or an agency to market your business.
Consultants act as strategic partners that help you with high-level strategy. They might define your ideal client, craft core messages that set you apart, or sharpen your brand identity. Perhaps they optimize your website or build your presence in your marketplace.
This is how we help many of our clients here at Relish Studio.
We plug in as consultants and marketing execution specialists to help take our clients to the next level of their growth and success.
The key here is the “next level.” At Relish, we like to bridge the gap between marketing rental and ownership. We help transform clients from renters to owners through the power of marketing.
You own your marketing when you reach the point when you can hire a marketing person or team to handle routine activities. These staff members may write content for your blog, create social posts, or get reviews for your business. They may manage your online communities. Maybe they do public relations, work on referral programs, or even more—depending on your goals, target audiences, and industry.
There’s a time and place for both. And there’s a sweet spot, smack dab in the middle, where ‘owning’ and ‘renting’ will work hand in hand. (But more on that later.)
Why you can’t abdicate the marketing role
It’s common to delegate what you can as a small business owner. And, much of the time, marketing is one of those things that you “can.”
But when delegation becomes abdication—you have a problem.
Too often, businesses bring someone in to ‘look after their marketing.’ But this decision is often less about having someone to run marketing effectively—and more about simply ‘checking a box’ on a to-do list. (“There. Marketing is taken care of. Now I can focus on something else.”)
When you’ve surrendered control over your marketing and hired a remote team, you can end up limiting your bottom-line results and miss the opportunity to build a long-term internal asset.
By their very nature, consultants are challenged to fill the role of your complete marketing team. An outsourced team simply can’t be your entire marketing department.
Not only do they have multiple clients to service, but they can also carry only so much on their plate.
And the likelihood that they could ever have a complete understanding of the intricacies of your business? Incredibly low. It’s possible but unlikely.
If you’ve reached the point where you are ready to invest in getting your business to the next level, it’s time to start building an internal team.
How digital channels add complexity
There are so many digital channels available for you to use today, making managing them all so much more difficult. It’s nearly impossible for one person to do it all alone.
First, you’re responsible for the strategy for each channel you choose to use. But without help, you’ll also be in charge of the implementation and execution.
Small business owners need help with marketing, but they often don’t want to hire.
Why small business owners don’t hire for marketing
Business owners are often skeptical about someone coming in to help with their marketing—whether it’s in-house or even on a consultant basis—so much so they don’t hire marketing people for reasons like:
- They don’t see marketing as a priority or view it as a cost instead of an investment. Few business owners have a marketing background, and while great marketing can deliver, most don’t want to spend their time (or money) on it. They view marketing as a cost that comes out of their pocket rather than an investment in the health, growth, and well-being of their business—an investment on which they should realize a powerful, positive return.
- They’ve been burned before. Unfortunately, many small businesses have had a bad experience with a marketing ‘guru.’ Perhaps they’ve hired a marketing person who ‘knew’ how to manage one tactic, but didn’t apply any broader direction around marketing strategy. (And that’s because there often isn’t a bigger strategy.)
- They can’t justify the cost. Small businesses often have limited resources. Hiring is a commitment. It’s an upfront cost, and the ROI isn’t instantaneous. But your costs should pay for themselves quickly if you hire the right person.
- They don’t know how to hire or train the right person. Business owners (usually) aren’t marketers. They often don’t know what to look for, where to find talent, or how to get someone up to speed successfully.
Small business owners can only do so much on their own. Even skeptics should re-evaluate their options and consider getting help if they want their business to continue to grow.
The natural progression of a mature business
Often, when an organization matures, growth can stagnate, and sales slowly begin to decline. This tends to be a natural progression when other pressing business needs that are supposedly “more important” than marketing start to crop up.
As your business matures, it’s natural for your attention to be drawn to elements of your operation that are new or feel more urgent. (Upgrading facilities, teams, or equipment, for example).
This is when it can be an excellent time to shake up your marketing. You may have hit a plateau where the old ways of driving business—particularly while distracted by other priorities—no longer bring in the kind of growth you need to fuel and fund new initiatives. You’ve hit a ceiling where you can only grow so much with what you have been doing, and you can’t continue to do it all as the business owner. You’re already spread too thin.
If you want to take it to the next level, having an internal marketing team can provide the thrust you need to get through this plateau.
You can combat slowed growth by upping your marketing game. Whether it’s researching ways to reach new audiences, creating new product offerings, building referral programs, focusing on new platforms… you need to refresh your growth in the marketplace.
And with more substantial marketing efforts and an internal person dedicated to taking care of those things, you can do just that.
Get help and make marketing an asset
When an outside consultant or advisor is your entire marketing department, you can only reach a certain level of growth.
I mentioned earlier that there’s a sweet spot where ‘owning’ and ‘renting’ marketing work magically together. You can really win by combining an internal marketing hire and working with your strategic partner.
A marketing consultant can help you with strategic components like creating your plan and working it, analyzing results, and ensuring you remain on track toward your big goals. (And you’ll get to take full advantage of the years of expertise they’ll bring to the table to nurture your new hire.)
Meanwhile, your internal marketing person—someone who either knows the intricacies of your business or soon will—can execute on this plan and craft messages that align with your strategy.
This is how you get the best of both worlds.
But that still brings us back to one of the biggest blockers for small business owners—how do you find, hire, and train the right internal marketing person?
Well—we’re creating a program to solve this exact problem.
We’re using our proven systems to build a Certified Marketing Manager Program. The program comes with an experienced consultant armed with a proven marketing system and a personalized training program based on your business for your marketing team—even if that’s just one person.
Our coaching consultant (certified through the Duct Tape Marketing program) will teach your team how to build, run, and implement a custom marketing system tuned to evolve as you grow. They can even help you find and hire the perfect internal marketing manager or coordinator.
It takes the daunting task right out of your hands—and is precisely what you need to get to the next level.
So, this all sounds great, right? But you might still be wondering how exactly these three roles collaborate and who’s responsible for what. We’ve created a visual ‘What’s Your Role’ Map that shows you exactly how the business owner, in-house marketer, and marketing consultant’s roles and responsibilities work together in the Certified Marketing Manager Program.
Download the Map here
Want to learn more? Schedule a call to get started.