You have come to the conclusion that now is the time to hire marketing help for your business. You know that this is a positive step, but what kind of marketing help will make the most sense for you? Should you bring on an employee? Find a marketing freelancer? Use a service like MarketerHire or Upwork? Partner with a marketing agency for a more full-service approach?
Maybe most importantly, what are the cost differences in these marketing hiring options? Is it cheaper to use a freelancer or do you need to go ahead and bring a full-time marketing employee to your team?
These are the kinds of questions small business owners face daily and I have consulted several on which decisions works best for their scenario. Having been a full-time corporate marketer making hiring decisions to doing freelance marketing work on the side to now operating as a boutique marketing agency owner/virtual CMO, I am on the other side of the coin. I do think each business scenario calls for its own right fit and I enjoy helping business leaders figure this out.
I’ve already covered the differences in how each type of marketing hire or outsourced marketer would normally operate in this blog and talked about how to know when it’s time to hire marketing help in this one but because money and budget is such a major factor in this decision, I wanted to focus in on cost breakdowns to further help guide entrepreneurs to the right pick.
When it comes to the costs of hiring marketing help, here are some things that you should consider.
What is Your Budget?
Before you start your Google (or Instagram) search of local marketers, you first need to get crystal clear on what your budget is for marketing help. And look, I get it. As a business owner, it is not the most glamorous thing to sit at a desk and crunch numbers to determine a budget. But the more specific you are when it comes to what your business can actually afford to still be able to run efficiently, the better off you will be in the long run. As you create your budget, here are some things to keep on your radar:
Estimated business expenses
Projected monthly earnings
Creating your budget is certainly something that you do not want to rush through or roughly “guesstimate.” So take your time, triple check your numbers, and have a professional to review your plan if possible.
Is it the Right Time?
In business, timing is everything. If you wait too long to make an investment, you may continue to roll downhill and create a huge mess to clean down the line. If you make the move too soon, you could risk getting your business in a financial hole that can take forever to get out of.
If you are in the earlier stages of your business, you may be able to get away with DIY marketing if you are working with a tight budget. Although this is not ideal long-term, it can certainly sustain your business until you get to a point where it is more feasible to outsource. Remember, you don’t want to get caught in the excitement of hiring help, only for it to become a financial burden.
Most entrepreneurs I’ve worked with wait too long to hire help, if I’m being honest. I know it’s intimidating to pay for marketing talent but when I see a small business owner still doing their own social media and email marketing five years into the business, continually stating they don’t have the money to outsource, I have to wonder how well they’re budgeting and managing their own time. From the very beginning of the business there needs to be attention on 5-10 year planning which should include saving for larger expenses like hiring help. It needs to be planned for. This is also backed up by all the business coaching advice I’ve picked up personally. Every podcast or book contains advice to hire sooner than you feel comfortable because it’s the best way to scale and grow. One person cannot keep doing the work of three or four team members. This is a great way to stay small and frustrated.
Okay, off my tangent soapbox now.
What Kind of Help Can You Afford?
When it comes to deciding what kind of marketing help you can afford, whether it be a freelance marketer, an employee, or a full-service agency, there is no right or wrong answer. However, it may be helpful to take a look at the costs that are associated with each to determine what is the best fit for you.
The costs of adding a full-time or part-time marketing employee
If you are considering hiring an employee to join your team, be prepared to have your wallet ready! Although it can be extremely convenient to have someone who is fully integrated as a member of your team, it can be the most costly option.
A marketer’s salary must be taken into account as well as benefits, unemployment funding, taxes, training materials, and any additional softwares or resources that they may need to perform their job. If you can afford the employment costs of a marketing hire, make sure you also think through the time it will take for you to lead and coach them and what will happen if they quit once you’ve invested the time, money and resources into that person. These are the drawbacks of hiring a full time marketer or part-time marketer.
As another precaution, be sure you’re not hiring a completely inexperienced marketer that needs skill training you can’t offer or oversee. Trying to get someone on a low salary level may feel right financially but it can be a major obstacle to your marketing’s success.
What are the costs of hiring a freelance marketer?
In contrast, hiring a freelance marketer may cost less money up front than a marketing employee (assuming they have a fairly reasonable rate), but after you hire multiple freelancers to perform multiple jobs, you may find yourself well over budget. Not to mention the mental overwhelm that you could face trying to juggle multiple freelancers.
I have seen the biggest small business marketing messes made when a business owner is operating through multiple marketing vendors. This person is doing graphic design, that person is doing website management, that other person is blogging and another person is running social media. I hate scenarios like this. Unless a business owner has marketing leadership in their background and is a pro and keeping all these freelance marketers on the same page, the results will be very wasteful. There’s no way for marketing to work correctly when the messaging, aesthetic and content are inconsistent. It’s hard enough to do this well within a corporate marketing team, let alone with a group of random marketers who probably aren’t talking to each other or getting the right amount of clarity and direction from the business owner.
My advice is to hire a freelance marketer when you need occasional work but are not looking for ongoing, consistent marketing help. In this scenario, a freelance marketer can turn around a project for you at a set price that’s in your budget and doesn’t need much of your time coordinating. An audit, a startup marketing package, a lead generating pdf or a website design are all great examples of when the costs of using a freelance marketer make the most sense.
Can you save money using a small marketing agency?
I can’t speak for other small marketing agencies but I can almost guarantee my boutique marketing agency is the least expensive way to get ongoing, high-quality marketing help. Here’s why.
Through a small marketing agency, you get more experienced marketers working on your business marketing. BUT without the employment fees of full-time hiring. So as you work that budget, look at what kind of salary you would pay to a full or part-time employee, then break it down into monthly pay. I can bet that monthly amount can earn you regular services from me and my team – all with the massive benefit of my 17+ years of experience and leadership. You will not be able to get the experience I bring, the coordination and the commitment I have with my client partners in a green marketing hire – or even a hire with a few years of experience.
Yes, you can probably save money using a boutique marketing agency like mine because I will bring better marketing results, help your business grow faster and produce much better ROI than you or a less experienced marketer – all without the additional costs of employment.
Also beware that if you are a small business owner with a not-so-hefty budget, a larger sized marketing agency will likely be way too pricey. These larger marketing agencies are typically more suitable for businesses who have accommodating marketing budgets. However, a smaller marketing agency is typically much more affordable, and can even offer you much more focused attention.
The costs of hiring marketing help boil down to your long-term plan
Ultimately, you need to make decisions now that are best for two or three years from now. While you already have your pen and paper out from creating your budget, also take the time to map out your long-term goals for your business. This is a step that you do not want to skip.
Take the time to think about where you want your business to be by the end of this year, and the years to follow. What financial goals do you want to accomplish? How many clients do you want to serve? How much do you actually want to scale? These are all questions to consider now as you start the process of hiring marketing help. The investments that you make now all have a major impact on the trajectory of your business.
If you know that you eventually want to have a marketing team of your own, maybe you decide to invest in a small marketing agency to help grow your business to that point. If you plan on scaling down your business for a lighter workload in the next couple of years, hiring freelancers might make the most sense. If you want to have a reliable marketing team member that will grow and evolve with your business, then hiring an employee might be the right path. Whatever you want for your business long-term should align with where you spend your money now.
If you know that outsourcing marketing help is the next step for your business, you are in the right place. At Lindsey Wagnon Marketing, we offer full-service partnerships where we operate as a member of your team and provide customized marketing that is designed to help your business flourish. We also offer marketing services for the small business owner who is not quite ready for the long-commitment but still wants to work with a skilled and experienced marketing professional.