“Do most business owners outsource their marketing or do they employ a full-time marketing resource directly?” was a question one of our clients asked during our fortnightly group Implementation and Accountability calls.
“I have two options,” she went on. “On one hand, I have a very good and experienced marketer who has her own company. However, two days of her consultancy costs me as much as having a full time marketing executive at about £22,000! What do I do?”
“It feels like I’m stuck between getting two days of high-skilled work versus five days of marketing assistance with someone who is much more directly involved with all the processes within the business. But then I have to train and direct and manage this new person. What option makes the most sense for me?”
I told them to take a step back and ask a fundamental and important question here…
What Core Skills Are Required For Your Marketing?
Before you even come close to being able to make a decision on how you are going to build the sales and marketing machine in your business, you need to know what kind of person is required to sit at the centre of that machine. You should sit down with your business partner, or your business coach or mentor – whomever helps you make strategic decisions in your business – and discuss what you actually want from your marketing.
What are your most critical marketing endeavours in the next quarter? The next year? This is a perfect example of where the quarterly strategic planning we do with our clients (and sometimes a few guests) helps to draw conclusions on these sort of things faster and therefore help you make important decisions quicker.
Will you be setting up lead generation funnels? Do you need to rebuild the website? Do you need to release a book and other written content? Are you attacking social media or do you need to learn clever PR hacks?
This can be more overwhelming than you may initially think. To maybe help guide you on this dissection, here are 10 major areas that we have found most medium businesses look at ramping up in order to launch to the next size bracket:
- Pay Per Click Advertising (Google, Facebook Ads etc.)
- Email Marketing
- Video Editing
- Graphic Editing
- Web Design
- Social Media Strategies
- PR & Press Coverage
- Direct Marketing
That’s definitely not a comprehensive list of everything that your marketing may eventually entail, but it’s a good place to start when building the foundation of your machine. Which item on that list is the most important one for your business?
And so following on from that, what kind of person do you need to run that core part of your sales and marketing machine?
Choose One or Two First
“But I want all of those things in my business! That’s how we’re going to grow,” my very eager client said exasperatedly on the call. “How am I supposed to choose which is most important?”
My first answer was, “Well that’s what me and my team are here for! Let us help guide you through what the value is of these channels, and focus down on the right one for you.” But of course, deciding on what is most important doesn’t necessarily require a coach: it requires focus. What products are you focused on selling this quarter? Who is the target person (not the target audience!) that you are focused on reaching out to this quarter? The choice of marketing channel naturally leads on from your focus.
You know that if you need your site rebuilt, then web design and graphic editing are skills you might need from your marketing person. If you know that you are focusing on an upsell product, you need to reach out to your existing customers, and so you know that copywriting and email marketing are the most important skills.
Get your focus, and then you’ll get to the core of the marketing for your business – and the core skills you need from your marketing person.
So Now What? Do I Hire In-House or Outsource for Those Skills?
The short answer is both!
“Well, I’ve got a list of the skills I need from my marketer – can’t I just hire a junior and train them in those skills? Then I’ll craft someone who’s perfectly suited to my business.” This was what one of my newer clients said on the call.
“But then you have to spend all the time training them and teaching them – which requires a cost in resources that your business probably doesn’t have at this time,” interjected one of my more experienced clients. “Your business is not a training ground right now.”
This client had obviously absorbed something I’d repeated often to my clients: you cannot afford for your business to be a training ground. That doesn’t mean that your employees do not train, grow and learn. On the contrary, you should be crafting a culture of active training, learning, and growing – in areas they are not already experts in. But they should already be experts in something that you need in order to consider them for your business in the first place. You should hire to immediately fill a need in your business, not hire to train someone who adds no immediate value.
And that’s what you need from your first marketing hire. You need someone who already has certain skills that will form the core of your particular marketing direction – whether that’s copywriting, graphic editing, pay per click analysis or whatever is important to your business. Then, if you’ve hired a superstar, they should learn the other areas they are not yet strong in.
In a sentence: you want to hire a specialist, and transform them into a generalist. Look at that list of marketing areas once again. Do you really think you are going to find someone who is an expert in every single one of those areas?
As one of my clients put it: “You’re looking for a unicorn!”
What you are instead looking for is someone who eventually will develop enough knowledge in the other areas of marketing so that they can manage the outsourcing of those areas to other specialists, as and when you need them.
Your business won’t be at training ground for the executive, but it will be a training ground for the manager.
So at the start, you have a marketer who can hit the ground running to set up your marketing foundations, and who can then grow into the marketing manager that manages the addition of new cogs and levers to that initial machine.
Wouldn’t Outsourcing Everything Be Easier?
“Surely I can just be that manager then, right? I could just manage all the outsourced channels for marketing as and when we need them, saving me from hiring in-house. It’s like managing my team, just a wider team.”
My understanding of successful businesses has led me to the conclusion that irrespective of what you do and how you do it, the bedrock of business is a sales and marketing machine. You can be cracking at what you do, but if you cannot communicate to the outside world and educate people as to how your product helps them, you aren’t going to be doing anything.
Therefore, you need to build this capability in-house because your company is growing and you are going to have a lot to handle in the coming months. If you are even considering the next level of your business, then you are probably sitting on some sort of growth track, and you must support that by developing the communication of your product and your brand. This needs to be managed in-house by someone who knows your business, and you trust.
Most business owners can do things faster by themselves, but they can go further with the support of others. I believe if you want to build a really good business, you will need in-house marketing support for the core activities at some point, and that person (or team) should be a ‘hub’ for a lot of peripheral outsourced activity.