One of the most challenging business decisions a growing company faces is when the right time is to hire a marketer and build an internal marketing team. Many scenarios prompt this decision, but it often comes when the business reaches a critical growth point. (We often see this happen when the business generates between $5 million and $10 million in revenue.)
The company may have been founder-led or sales-driven until this point, but its sales are plateauing. It realizes that to continue growing, it needs to invest in marketing more strategically. It no longer makes sense to have the founder or sales leader be responsible for marketing.
But without internal marketing expertise on staff, it isn’t easy to know when the right time is to hire a marketer, what type of marketer is needed, and what the business can expect from its hire. Marketing is a significant and critical business investment. A bad hire not only wastes precious time and money, but it can also damage a brand if the business hands over the reins to the wrong person.
This post will help your business assess whether it’s the right time to hire a marketer — and determine who the right person or resource is for that job.
Signs it’s time to hire a marketer
The most telltale sign that it’s time to hire a marketer is when your business recognizes it doesn’t have a strategic marketing approach. You may be pushing out many marketing activities (e.g., emails, ads, events, content), but you spray them in a bunch of different directions without any clarity on whether these activities do your business any good. At Authentic Brand, we lovingly call this spray-and-pray approach “random acts of marketing.”
Random acts of marketing cause frustration for teams and leadership because they burn through resources without creating any meaningful brand value or delivering any consistent revenue returns. If your business is committing any of these random acts of marketing, it’s a sign that it’s time to hire a marketer.
You work with a handful of marketing agencies and freelancers (and may even be spending in the six figures on them), but their efforts feel disjointed and unproductive.
Businesses often try to fill their marketing gap by hiring a handful of agencies and using freelance partners as needed. They might supplement these external resources with an in-house admin that helps with posting to social media, coordinating events, and managing projects.
Without a strategic marketing plan or leader to guide these efforts, your partners work in silos on separate projects without clear direction. Their lackluster results might leave you unsure whether you have the right partners and confused about how to direct your business down a better, more strategic path.
Experienced marketers know how to vet agencies and freelancers, choose the ones you actually need, manage these relationships, and align all partners toward marketing and business objectives. You’ll get more out of your external partnerships when you have a marketer to steer the ship and course-correct as needed.
You have a lot of ideas but no strategic filter to pass them through.
Are your marketing efforts driven by the shiny marketing object that captures your founder’s, CEO’s, or sales leader’s attention each week? Your team might have endless ideas for what it could do to market your offerings. But these efforts will be ineffective if you don’t align marketing activities to a plan and your business objectives. If you execute on every idea thrown marketing’s way, you will quickly burn through resources, and marketing will never become a strategic revenue partner.
When you hire a marketer and give them a seat at the table, they can create a marketing plan that acts as a strategic filter. Marketing no longer does anything and everything that leadership and sales requests; it pushes back if the requests will take the company off course. This filter establishes focus for your business that helps you move further faster.
You want to keep pace with competitors, but you don’t have the resources you need in-house to do that effectively.
If you’re using the same rinse-and-repeat marketing plan each year, you’ll fall behind competitors and miss opportunities to engage your audiences. A marketer can keep your business up-to-date on trends, techniques, and technologies and assess which of them are essential to implement to keep your company competitive. It’s important to monitor what your competitors are doing, but be careful not to look to them to inform your strategy. Doing so incorrectly assumes that your businesses have the same growth plan and that your competitor is doing things the right way. Hiring a strategic marketer will help you keep a pulse on competitors — while also keeping you focused on making the right marketing investments for your business.
If your company is committing any of these random acts of marketing, it’s time to hire a marketer to guide your business down a more strategic path.
What type of Marketer does your business need?
Recognizing you need to hire a marketer is the first step. The next — and perhaps more tricky step — is figuring out what type of marketer your business needs. This decision requires you to answer numerous questions:
- What does healthy growth look like for our business, and how can marketing help us achieve that?
- Who should own marketing accountability for our business? (If the founder/CEO or a sales leader has led this function to date, it’s time to look for someone experienced in and focused on marketing.)
- Do we need an experienced strategic marketing leader or a day-to-day doer who can execute on marketing programs? (Asking a marketer to be responsible for strategy and execution sets them up for failure. Each is a big job, and no marketer can do everything.)
- If we need a marketing leader, do we need them full-time? Or should we hire an Interim CMO or a Fractional CMO?
- What kind of skills do we need to have internally within our marketing team? Which skills can we outsource to agencies and freelancers? (E.g., content, design, analytics, marketing technology, lead gen, etc.)
It can be daunting to determine exactly how to structure a marketing organization and which type of marketer should be your first hire. We frequently see growing businesses make the mistake of recruiting an emerging marketer (someone with 2-5 years of experience) and expecting that person to do everything. You can’t expect even a very capable rising star to cover everything from strategy through all facets of marketing execution. The good news is, you don’t have to hire for only strategy or only execution. And you don’t have to wait until you can justify a full-time executive marketing hire. You can hire for both roles to set your business up for even greater marketing success.
The winning combo: A Fractional CMO & marketing manager
Hiring a Fractional CMO with a marketing coordinator or manager can be a powerful team combination. Fractional CMOs provide strategic, senior-level leadership and can ladder your marketing efforts to your business vision. Simultaneously, they can coach, mentor, and develop the marketing coordinators and managers to bring clarity, focus, and accountability to day-to-day marketing execution. Hiring a Fractional CMO on a part-time, flexible basis creates quick impact with less risk than hiring a full-time CMO.
This model — hiring a part-time Fractional CMO and a full-time marketing manager — gives you the flexibility to bring in the right amount of strategy and execution into the equation. It will help you grow with confidence, supported by strong execution and experienced strategic leadership that knows how to develop the staff you have and supplement your team with the right external resources (agencies, freelancers).
Does this sound like a model that could work well for your business? Reach out to us if you’d like to explore how an Authentic Brand Fractional CMO can support your business by bringing accountability, focus, and alignment to your marketing function. Our Fractional CMOs will assess your company’s resources and growth strategy to help you build strong marketing programs and teams. With the right combination of resources and experienced strategic leadership, the next step you take will be toward growth.
Would you like to read more about hiring a marketing leader? Check out our 3-part series:
ACTS OF MARKETING
- When should my business hire a marketer, and who’s the right fit? - February 23, 2021
- How remote collaboration in marketing has changed — and why it’s here to stay - January 25, 2021
- Interim CMO vs. Fractional CMO: What’s the difference, and what do you really need? - January 11, 2021