Small business owners often take a hands-on approach to their companies’ marketing efforts, especially when the business is new. However, as you scale, relying on a marketing expert can improve your marketing ROI and save you time and energy to focus on running your business.
Marketing is the lifeblood of your business, creating brand awareness for your target market, communicating your value proposition and generating sales leads. We’ll explore how hiring a marketing expert who is well versed in digital and traditional marketing can improve your bottom line.
Ask prospective marketing professionals about their marketing certifications. Popular and reputable skill-based certifications can indicate that they’re staying ahead of constantly evolving marketing trends.
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Why you should hire a marketing professional
While you can still have the final say on marketing campaigns and expenditures, it’s best to leave the bulk of your marketing in the hands of a professional. Here’s why.
1. Marketing is a full-time gig.
Entrepreneurs are sharp, savvy and typically great at learning new skills. Yes, you absolutely could learn everything you need to know to create a marketing plan and execute effective marketing campaigns.
But let’s be honest: You don’t have time for that. Modern marketing is complex and requires a wide variety of skills and breadth of knowledge that can take years to acquire. Your business can’t limp along until you’ve learned everything you need to know about digital marketing, email marketing campaigns, social media marketing and more.
As you scale, you must focus your time and energy on activities only you can do. Marketing is crucial to your business’s long-term success. However, it’s a full-time gig in its own right, and you already have a big job: running your company.
2. Hiring a marketing expert saves time and money.
One of the biggest reasons business owners dismiss the idea of hiring a marketing expert is the cost. They figure that because they can write and use social media, they can get along just fine. Unfortunately, that logic often backfires when they spend time on content and money on ads, only to get little to no return on investment.
If money’s tight, consider working with freelancers and independent contractors versus full-time employees. While these individuals may charge higher rates overall, you can hire them for specific projects, and you won’t need to provide benefits. This can be a great option for website copy or consistent blog posts. (We’ll explore more about marketing professional costs below.)
3. Hiring a marketing expert is an opportunity to learn and grow.
If you’re interested in learning more about marketing, watching an expert at work will be a daily master class. Your marketing professional can teach you tips and tricks your competitors might not know. You’ll be able to learn from an expert quickly and gain insights that would take you years to discover on your own.
Your marketing expert can show you how to acquire new customers, use your existing customer base for referrals and cultivate social media relationships.
Hire a marketing professional with experience in your specific industry. They’ll be able to track industry trends and offer insights into competitors.
4. Social media marketing is complex, so you need an expert.
Small businesses need a social media presence, so every modern marketing strategy must have a social media component. Social media marketing is an excellent way to build engagement, create word-of-mouth brand awareness and tell powerful stories that help sell products. However, social media marketing is complex and extremely competitive.
Your potential customers are exposed to a daily onslaught of advertisements and marketing messages. To cut through the noise and get noticed, brands need dedicated, innovative social media managers to create and promote excellent social media content.
A digital marketing expert will possess the analytical and social skills to identify your target audience quickly and better understand your customers’ needs. They’ll effectively use your social channels to get your customers’ attention and prompt them to act. The rest is up to you.
Cost of hiring a marketing professional
Your costs will vary widely depending on whether you’re hiring an in-house marketing professional or using a marketing agency.
Marketing agency costs
According to digital marketing solution provider WebFX, a digital marketing retainer with an external company typically costs between $2,500 and $12,000 monthly. This fee pays for the agency’s work and expertise; the actual cost of advertising in digital or traditional media is not included.
A marketing agency will typically help you do the following:
- Create a marketing strategy and buyer personas
- Conduct a marketing analysis and market research
- Write social media posts, website copy and ad copy
- Handle the website design process, including programming
- Create landing pages and other marketing assets
If you’re buying services by the hour, rates can range between $50 and $500.
The best brand-building marketing agencies will help you understand your company’s voice, know your audience and create consistent messages.
In-house marketing professional costs
The upfront cost of hiring a marketing professional varies widely by experience. However, according to ZipRecruiter, a digital marketing manager makes an average annual salary of $55,108.
You’ll need to consider other factors for a true cost assessment:
- Employee benefits: You’ll also need to calculate the cost of the in-house marketing professional’s employee benefits package, which runs between 25% and 40% of their salary. For example, for a marketing salary of $55,000, you’d spend an additional $13,750 to $22,000, for a total cost between $68,750 and $77,000. If you break this down into an hourly cost, assuming a 40-hour work week with two weeks of paid vacation, it’s between $34.38 and $38.50 per hour.
- The marketing skill level you need: You’ll also need to consider your marketing professional’s skill level. If your business is in a highly competitive industry, you may need someone more sophisticated and experienced, which will cost you more. However, if you use channel selling or a direct salesforce, or your industry is less competitive, you may do well with someone less experienced who doesn’t cost as much. If they’re on salary, they could also contribute to other aspects of your business.
Hiring a marketing agency or professional may seem like a significant expenditure. However, the long-term benefits of marketing expertise – including better marketing ROI – can ultimately save you money.
In your interview questions, ask prospective marketing professionals about challenges they met and overcame on previous projects. Listen not just to what they say but how they say it; a good marketer is a compelling storyteller.
Downsides of not hiring a marketing professional
If you decide to put off hiring a marketing professional, it can hurt your business in the following ways:
- You may not do enough marketing. All businesses must market to survive and grow. Even if you have an established customer base, there is always attrition. Customers can become dissatisfied for whatever reason. Perhaps they can no longer afford your product, their needs change or they move away. To replace lost customers, your business must constantly reach out to new prospects and entice them to buy. Without a dedicated marketing professional or agency actively planning, implementing and analyzing, potential new customers can slip through the cracks. You may not be out in front of potential customers, but your competition likely is.
- You’ll waste money on ineffective marketing efforts. It’s easy to waste a lot of money on marketing if you don’t know what you’re doing. Marketing is as much science as art, and experienced marketing professionals know the tips and tricks that give their companies a higher ROI. Additionally, they’re focused on marketing KPIs and adept at analyzing data to determine precisely what’s working and what isn’t and then adjusting accordingly. While no marketer has a crystal ball that lets them avoid wasted marketing spend entirely, professionals can detect problems and regroup quickly.
- You may miss out on opportunities. Even if you have a marketing background, new marketing methods and channels always pop up. If you aren’t dedicating a sizable chunk of your time to keeping up with trends and strategies, you’re likely missing out on a platform or tactic that could bring you business. Part of a marketing professional’s job is staying abreast of the latest marketing buzz so that your business is always where it needs to be when it should be there.
- You may neglect other crucial business functions. You have many responsibilities as a business owner. If you’re spending an excessive amount of time on marketing, you’re likely neglecting other parts of your business, including managing employees, improving processes, overseeing finances, creating an overall business strategy and forming strategic alliances. Your company can’t afford for you to devote too much time to one business element.
Improve your bottom line with a marketing expert
If you’re still on the fence about hiring someone to do your marketing, consider this: No one will buy your product or service if they don’t know it exists. Marketing experts know how to get a company noticed and can consistently implement new strategies. It may take a few months to start seeing the results of these strategies, but in the end, it’s an investment that will pay off and allow you to start scaling.
Ryan Ayers contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.