Whether to hire or outsource is always a tough decision. Hiring means expense and risk that is not easily redirected if you make a mistake. Outsourcing brings complexity in organization and communication. When you thinking about this for a senior role or leadership position, the challenges multiply. With a strategic role like marketing on the line, making the wrong choice can have long-lasting implications. We obviously think that it's a good idea for a smaller business to outsource their marketing director or VP level role. Here are four reasons why.
# 1 – Cost
The biggest reason that companies are outsourcing is to contain costs. The average marketing director has a salary around $131,866 (according to Salary.com). What's not included are benefits and payroll taxes, which are usually around 20% ... which means you need to add another $26,373 for a whopping total of $158,239 for a full-time director of marketing.
Job description for a marketing director per Salary.com: Directs and oversees an organization's marketing policies, objectives, and initiatives. Conducts market research and develops marketing plans for specific products, services, or business lines. Reviews changes to the marketplace and industry and adjusts marketing plan accordingly.
Most directors of marketing are managing the overall plan which is great if you can afford one. While some directors of marketing will actually produce content, many of them are not the same person that does the content and activity execution on a daily basis.
It’s a catch 22. Most small businesses can’t afford both a director of marketing and a junior execution person. Almost every small business needs at least one junior marketing person to execute on a daily basis. Junior marketing people might be great executing but that person is generally NOT good at developing the strategy – they don’t have the experience to plan or gravitas to make tough decisions, so much falls back on other company leaders. Hiring an outsourced marketing director to do yearly planning, quarterly reviews and weekly keep-on-track meetings is much less expensive than hiring a full-time director of marketing.
#2 - Strategy
Unfortunately, most small and mid-sized business marketing departments fall apart on the strategy side of marketing. You can have the best execution team in the world, but if there's no strategy behind the tactics, the likelihood of success is low. Strategy starts with understand who your ideal customer is and why you are different.
What we’ve found at Leading Results is that, in today’s modern content based marketing approach, focusing as specifically as possible on a few ideal customers gives the best returns. We’ve been referring to this as “straw” as opposed to ‘traditional’ funnel marketing. When you market through a straw you have a very specific message targeted at the ideal customer and they are much more likely to pay attention because you ‘know’ their problems and frustrations and can have very high value conversations. This increasingly important approach is also a highly strategic approach, that requires the experience of an experienced marketing director.
The second piece of strategy is being able to differentiate yourself from your competition. According to my new favorite sales book, The Challenger Sale, only 35% of companies have a true differentiation. I will tell you that we very rarely meet someone that can tell us why their company is truly different.
An outsourced marketing director MUST be able to help you identify both your ideal customer and help you discover or create your differentiation.
# 3 - Out-of-the-box thinking
Typically, if you engage an outsourced director of marketing, they have a broader range of experience to pull from, just from the fact that they work with a variety of companies. An experienced marketing person can assimilate what they have learned in other industries and help you think outside of the box. Additionally, because they are likely engaged with other clients when you hire them, they immediately can bring to-the-moment experience as to what is and is not working from a tactical point of view.
# 4 – Fresh eyes
The last benefit of hiring an outsourced marketing director is that they will bring multiple sets of a fresh eyes to your team, because in addition to hiring them, you are also hiring in the network of vendors and contractors they work with. Have you ever written a document and spent the time editing it for mistakes and were sure that it was correct? Have you then given it to someone else only to be shown not just one but several mistakes? A new outlook on old ideas can really help invigorate a company.
If you have a business that does not have the extra $150,000 annually to employee a Director / VP of Marketing or you do not know your who ideal customer is and your differentiation, think about outsourcing your key marketing leader instead of making a costly hiring mistake.
What should an outsourced director of marketing be able to deliver/develop?
- Understanding who your ideal customer is (this is NOT anyone that has money!)
- Understand what pains and frustrations your ideal customers have.
- Guiding you to develop or discover what your differentiation is…and backing it up.
- Creating a yearly calendar of all marketing activities both internally and externally focused.
- Be able to instill marketing into Sales, Customer Service and all other aspects that are customer facing.
- Be able to make marketing process driven instead of a black box of mystery.
- Be willing to help hire a full time replacement staff person for you when you get to the point that you need it.
Better yet, instead of just an outsourced marketing director, what about a complete outsourced marketing department?