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Outsourced Marketing, Part 3: Should I hire?

Outsourced Marketing, Part 3: Should I hire?

help-wantedThe following post is the third in our series on “Outsourced Marketing.” In Part 1, The Market we looked at the marketing landscape for businesses that need help with marketing. In Part 2, we provided a framework for selecting the right-fit marketing professional. In the final installment, we deliver a guide for evaluating when it might be the right time for you to bring on an in-house marketing resource.

Outsourced vs. In-House Marketing

Many growing businesses – and businesses that want to grow – consider the option of bringing in an in-house marketing resource. While there's no universal answer for when to bring on an employee, we've created a few questions to guide your decision-making.

First: Is there enough work to merit the investment?

While it's tempting to have an "always on" marketing resource, before you add to your costs (calculate payroll plus benefits and overhead), make sure that your business has at least 25-30 hours of marketing needed per week. Businesses that typically have this sort of requirement include retail, online commerce, and professional services firms that rely on highly-customized proposals and RFP responses (think architecture or public projects).

Second: Are you looking for marketing or sales (or something else)?

If you answered "yes," to the first question, consider the specific activities you want this position to fulfill. If you need someone to network, cold call, and hustle up new business, then you're actually in the market for a salesperson.

Which leads to one of the biggest pitfalls we see: The "Sales and Marketing" Manager.

Many businesses seek to kill two birds with one stone by combining marketing strategy and sales outreach. Invariably this strategy fails; the employee gravitates to their strength and minimizes their secondary role (or worse, the employee is mediocre at both). It’s a lose-lose scenario – you are not getting an A Player in this position and the new hire is set up for failure because they will never meet your expectations of excellence in both roles.

Because it's difficult to outsource sales, we recommend hiring this position first while relying on contractors or agencies to help with marketing strategy.

Third: Do you know how to evaluate your new employee?

One of the biggest challenges to hiring an internal marketing resource is your ability to measure their skill and effectiveness. If you've never had a person in this role before, it will be extremely difficult to hire the right skill set and to measure the employee's impact over time. If you're confident you've outgrown an outsourced marketing solution, then consider hiring an HR consultant to help write the job description and interview applicants. Your investment in an expert’s time will pay huge dividends when you hire the best person for your needs.

Fourth: Do you know what type of marketing pro you need? Can you afford them?

One of the big problems with hiring a "marketing person" is defining what "marketing" really means. For example, "marketing" can mean: a strategist, a writer, a designer, a web programmer, an SEO expert, a PR guru, and on and on and on. The more roles you try to wrap into a single position, the more expensive their salary becomes and the more likely you are to get a "jack of all trades, master of none."

Moral of the story: Get specific in your expectations and job description. Be willing to pay more for a person who has more skill-sets. Define the activities you need to fill and be realistic about hiring for multiple roles.

The Marketing Employee Worksheet

To help owners decide if they should hire an in-house marketing person (or not), we've created a one-page guide outlining the various types of "marketing" assistance you might need in your company. The sheet is divided into 3 sections: Role, Persona, and Alternate Roles.

Here's an overview of the Marketing Employee Worksheet:

  1. Role describes the core function of the employee. For example, you can define a "Writer" vs. a "Print Designer." The salary column reflects the range of pay for the position, based on Portland market surveys that Kinesis regularly monitors.
  2. Persona is an expression of both the type of work required as well as the core driver of the employee. We look at potential employees and their roles through three lenses: creative (new ideas, outside the box thinking), execution (works with systems and processes), and analytical (research and uncovering opportunities from existing information). Most employees fit one persona; the rare candidate fits two areas of focus (a strong primary and a weaker secondary).
  3. Alternate Roles are additional positions that you may be able to fill with a single hire. We've grouped complementary roles and alternate roles based on our extensive experience with different types of marketers. For example, you can often combine writing duties and PR needs; however, it's unlikely you'll find a web programmer that can overlap with either of these duties. Remember to consider that adding top-performers with multiple roles will increase the salary requirements for the position.

Download the M. E. Worksheet

Should I Hire? A Real-World Example

To better understand how to use the Marketing Employee Worksheet, we've created an example of a business considering hiring an in-house marketing resource.

Euro-Tours is an online business specializing in high-end guided trips to Western Europe. The company runs a dynamic website with hundreds of trip offerings. Their content changes on a daily basis, and their company has built a strong social-media presence, interacting with customers on Facebook and Twitter. Euro-Tours also hopes to leverage PR in the coming year, aiming to have some of their tours featured in prominent travel blogs and print publications.

Euro-Tours' options: Travel is all about excitement and a sense of discovery. Therefore, hiring a skilled writer with strong creative drive (as opposed to an analytical persona) could help increase customer engagement and interest in new offerings. Euro-Tours will want to look for a candidate with the ability to execute on regular blog posts and meet firm deadlines. If they are able to commit more budget, the company may be able to combine the writing with PR (this type of candidate will command a very high salary if they can be found in Portland's relatively small market).

What Euro-Tours won't get: By hiring a creative content expert, Euro-Tours will need to continue outsourcing other key marketing roles such as design, web programming, and search engine marketing. In our experience, we'd anticipate this new hire solves a lot of problems (writing, media initiatives) but also leaves a number of gaps - particularly with strategic planning and analysis.

Here's a sample of a Marketing Employee Worksheet filled out for Euro-Tours.

Final Thoughts on Outsourced Marketing

Whether you're considering hiring a marketing employee or outsourcing your marketing, spend some time with our three-part series. Examine the activities you need along with the position’s payroll implications and choose the models that will work for your company. Most importantly, do a full-analysis of the costs associated with your needs. In the Euro-Tours example above, the budget (including full-time pay, benefits, and additional outsourced resources) would be well in excess of $100,000 per year.

If you have questions, post them in the comments below, or send me a note through our website. Good luck!

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