Marketing agency or full-time employee: what’s an SMB to do?

Marketing agency or full-time employee: what’s an SMB to do?

2020-02-27T07:53:56-05:00November 6th, 2019|Budgets, Jobs, Marketing|

For SMBs, there’s a constant struggle between managing budget and growing the business. To generate leads, you must do at least some marketing to get the word out, but many SMBs make the mistake of shortcutting marketing, not realizing that they’re also shortcutting their opportunities.

There’s a common misconception that “anyone can do marketing” and new businesses often have an unqualified person “throw together” a brochure or web site to get something out the door quickly. The results are badly designed and poorly written materials, leaving a negative impression of the company. And unfortunately, it’s much harder and more costly to win business after a bad first impression.

I once had someone suggest I hire a medical student as a summer intern because “he’s smart.” But smart doesn’t equal skilled, and marketing is a skillset like no other. There are many components to marketing and each is often performed by a different person with specialized skills and training, including:

  • Graphic design
  • Web development
  • Content writing/editing
  • Press/analyst relations
  • Event planning
  • Email marketing

So how can an SMB deliver high-quality materials to their prospects without hiring a dozen people and breaking the bank? That’s where marketing agencies come into play. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “you work for an agency, of course you’ll recommend hiring one.” However, I’ve been on both sides of the fence, and I worked for SMBs for most of my career. I have been the sole marketing employee, as well as the marketing manager with a small team under me. And throughout that time, I relied on agencies to help fill in the gaps.

For smaller businesses, it makes more sense to hire a full-service agency to deliver all their marketing needs. There’s no need to hire a graphic designer, web developer, copywriter and more when you won’t be utilizing their skills in a full-time capacity. An agency offers all those different skill sets in one package. And with an agency, you can keep your overhead low because there are no benefits or other costs associated with an employee.

As the business grows, there will likely come a time when it makes sense to hire a full-time employee who’s focused on managing the marketing efforts. That person would be the liaison between the business and the agency and can help institute more advanced efforts to generate new leads and grow the business even more.

For larger businesses still on the SMB scale, some marketing efforts may begin to demand a full-time resource. At that time, a company may choose to hire full-time employees with specific skill sets to meet those needs. But even then, an agency can help fill in the gaps.

There is no one size fits all answer for SMBs. It depends on where you are in your business journey, where you want to go and how quickly you want to get there. Just don’t make the mistake of assuming that anyone can “do marketing” or you’ll end up spending more to regain lost traction in the marketplace.

This post is courtesy of MMC Project Manager Chris White.