Considering building an in-house marketing team?

Your brand is everything. It’s everything your customers see, everything your employees see, everything your suppliers, vendors and competitors see. Marketing cannot be ignored. Your brand is your most valuable asset. But your small business doesn’t have to break the bank to manage your marketing every year to grow sales.

Our agency works with small and medium-sized businesses, all of which have small and medium-sized budgets. When we’re working with a client to help internalize their marketing teams, our goal is often to maximize impact while minimizing costs.

After 20 years of building marketing teams and systems for our clients, we’ve learned to set realistic expectations for CEOs who feel an all-in-house team would be more cost effective. We’ve seen plenty of companies turn website management over to “Susie from accounting” or take a chance on a fresh and smart young graduate with lots of energy but limited experience.

To be brutally honest, these makeshift solutions never work. In fact, most of the time it actually damages your company’s brand – your reputation – to leave marketing and PR in the hands of inexperienced employees. It’s usually not great for the employees either. No one ends up happy.


Marketing Team Budgets & Costs

Today’s marketing is a lot more complex than ever. To effectively execute a strategic marketing plan, you need a professional strategic thinker, a writer, a social media expert, a website developer with SEO experience, a graphic designer, a project manager and a creative director. If your company were to hire one person for each of these positions, each year it would cost over $600K in labor and another $100-200K in outside costs like software, photography, videography, advertising, tradeshows, trade media and digital advertising.

A seasoned, jack-of-all trades marketing professional who knows how to grow business and generate leads will alone cost your company a minimum of $150-200K per year plus benefits. Even at that rate, those people are not easy to find. If you do manage to hire someone at that level, they’ll be focused on game-changing strategy and you will still need a production team to execute.

This quick sketch adds up to a $1M marketing budget, which is unattainable and unrealistic for small and medium-sized businesses. Not to mention that most businesses that size don’t even have enough marketing needs to justify a team of full-time employees.


You’ll have to get creative finding balance.

This kind of people puzzle is very common among small businesses and non-profits. You’re not sure if you have the right pieces, or how they should fit together. Our answer is nearly always the same: you’ll have to get creative.

There is no cookie-cutter formula for building a marketing team in a company. It really depends on the aggressiveness of your goals and the internal resources you have. But the reality is, 1) all companies need that balance of strategic experience and energetic execution, and 2) most small companies will have to outsource part of the work.

Generally speaking, there are 3 creative scenarios to consider:

  1. Hire an experienced strategist who can outsource the production to one or more firms and freelancers within a set budget
  2. Outsource the work of the strategist by engaging a marketing agency or consultant, then bring on a couple of young go-getters to execute the strategy developed by the agency under regular supervision
  3. Another way to solve the puzzle — without hiring any new FTEs — is to bring in a firm to serve as the strategist and mentor, and slowly build your internal team as strategies and plans get put into place.

There’s no single way to solve the marketing people puzzle. But if you think creatively and find the right balance of experience and energy and strategy and execution, it’s possible to grow your company and your brand and keep at least part of it in house.


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