As we talk with executives of second stage companies on a strong growth path we’ve discovered they have a number of challenges in common. One of the biggest challenge is managing the marketing and sales function to keep the company growing while continuing to provide great service to their customers.
Owners, who started out doing everything themselves often find they are stretched beyond what they can manage well as the company expands.
The business owner, accustomed to doing all the marketing and sales themselves, becomes the defacto marketing manager. In our experience, this never ends well.
The Trap of the Internal Marketing Team
As the internal headcount (and budget) grows to meet the demand of new business, we see many companies wooed by the “cost saving” idea of delegating the ongoing production of marketing and sales activities to existing staff. How hard can it be to write a few blogs, post a little on social media, manage the company’s aging website or follow up on leads?
Delegating marketing activities to staff who may not have the required skill set, and have other unrelated and sometimes conflicting responsibilities, usually means marketing falls to the bottom of the heap. It then still falls to the owner to manage all the various marketing activities themselves, dealing with missed deadlines, less than quality work, unhappy employees and resulting lackluster leads and sales. Ugh.
An alternative “solution” often tried is to hire one more role - the Marketing Manager or Director who will be responsible for everything related to marketing and generating leads. Problem solved, right? Not necessarily.
Companies on a growth path need more and more qualified leads and the capacity to close those leads. The range of skills an internal marketing and sales team needs to maintain and grow their competitive advantage in this digital age is wide. It’s highly unusual to find them all in one person.
A good marketing executive will be spotting trends, but also constantly re-appraising all the marketing tools within the company to make sure they’re giving the company an advantage over its competitors.
It’s very much a fluid role that calls for creativity, insight and good old fashioned business sense.
However, to remain competitive and continue to grow, a marketing team needs the following distinct, but often complementary skills:
- Strategy - The ability to align marketing and sales activities with the company goals and strategy to make strategic choices around the marketing and sales budget.
- Brand Management - Keep brand consistent in every action and communication about the company, while monitoring customer perception and online reputation.
- SEO and content strategy management - Translates the company strategy into keyword rich content. Develops and manages the editorial content calendar.
- Copywriting and publishing - Write and edit copy for various media (Blogging, content marketing, email marketing, marketing materials, social media, etc.) that aligns with the company messaging and accomplishes the goal of attracting the target market and driving traffic.
- Lead management and nurturing - Oversee lead management, lead scoring and referral to sales.
- Graphic design - Responsible for everything visual, such as graphics, creating content offers such as ebooks or infographics, printed materials. The website is touched by the graphic designer to maintain the visual brand and professional appearance.
- Email marketing - Plan and implement lead nurturing and customer engagement email campaigns.
- Data management - Obtain, analyze and interpret data, and turn it into actionable intelligence.
- Event planning and production - Event planning and execution for trade shows, client recognition events or lead generation seminars.
- Public Relations - Communicating with the media, publishing press releases, arranging presentations and interviews for executives.
- Social Media - Maintaining a strong presence on social media platforms, planning and implementing user engagement strategies, and responding to inquiries and providing customer service.
- Mobile/local strategy - Create strategy and plan for digital presence on mobile devices and local search sites (Google Maps, Yelp, Bing, etc.)
- Paid search management - Skilled at setting up, maintaining and getting results from Google Adwords or social media advertising.
- Video productions and editing - Has the skills and professional equipment available to produce quality video content.
- Coder - Knowledge of coding or at lead know enough to know what is needed to accomplish the goals for the company website.
- Website design and development - Translates the brand, messaging, user feedback and data to improve the website performance.
Consider a third alternative to the trap of bringing your marketing in house or hiring a marketing director - hire an Inbound Marketing Agency to outsource your marketing and sales enablement.
An Inbound marketing agency is focused on driving inbound leads, enabling sales with data and lead intelligence, not just web development, social media or email marketing activities.
The Advantages of a hiring a Growth (Inbound Marketing) Agency.
1. Marketing that is strategically focused and aligned with company goals
2. Collaboration with the existing marketing and sales staff or acts as the entire marketing function
3. Focused on multi-channel lead generation, client acquisition and customer engagement
4. All needed skills are available without having to hire more staff or manage contractors
5. Cost effective in comparison to hiring an internal Marketing Director
The cost of hiring an internal marketing staff is what most compelling.
The Financial Advantage of Outsourcing Your Marketing
According to Salary.com, just to hire one marketing manager costs well over $100k with salary and benefits.
Then, figure in the cost of an SEO person, a writer (or two), a web designer/developer, a social media person, an analytics and operations person, and you’ll be spending upwards of $300k a year just for the people that are doing the marketing. Then you need to add in the tools they’ll need to do their jobs, the training time needed to stay up to date, and the expense of replacing any of these employees who don’t work out.
The smarter way to go for companies growing into second stage or mid-size is to outsource an inbound marketing or Growth Agency.
These agencies can provide all the resources, technology, education and content for highly effective marketing and sales. They can function as your outsourced digital marketing department or as a temporary vendor while they train your internal team.
Also, consider that marketing agencies leverage their learning across different industries, so they bring you a wealth of knowledge, tools, and experience. And outsourced marketing costs about the same as hiring a marketing director — but you get a whole team of expertise for that price!
How to Think about Marketing Team ROI
Suppose you hire an experience inbound marketing agency for $10,000 per month, you’ll be getting the combined experience of an entire marketing team, not just one person. The road to a strong return on investment is a lot shorter than going to the expense (time and effort) of building an internal marketing team.
The real value isn’t just having the various marketing skills onboard - it’s the expertise hidden behind those job functions – a fundamental understanding of how everything works and fits together in the larger picture of your business and your prospects/customers.
Marketing agencies with a long history of experience can help you build and execute marketing strategies that will drive new revenue, and then can work to integrate sales and marketing into a cohesive whole.
The hidden value of working with an experienced inbound marketing agency is exactly that. . . their experience!