Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Hire or Outsource

Entrepreneurs are often at a loss as to how to effectively build their marketing team.

When money is tight, you try to do as much as possible yourself in your “spare time.” That may work temporarily, but it is certainly not the best way to position your business for sustained growth.

Assuming you need to delegate more marketing responsibilities, is it better to hire or to outsource it to an agency or freelancer? Here are a few questions to help you decide.

1. What expertise do you actually need to achieve your goals?

Marketing covers branding, public relations, website content, SEO, SEM, pay-per-click advertising, inbound marketing, event planning, and the list goes on and on.

But most marketing teams don’t have the resources to be experts in all of those things. The real question is: what will move your company forward?

You’re not Microsoft or Hubspot, so don’t try to build your marketing department the way they do. You won’t have the resources to do everything and that’s OK. There are plenty of businesses that flourish without social media or SEO.

The best thing you can do for your marketing is to gain clarity on what you want to achieve.

What is the ONE thing you could do, such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary? Gary Keller

2. What are your options?

If you’re leaning towards hiring a full-time person, you have to decide whether to hire a junior or senior marketer. Juniors may not have the ability to think strategically, and senior-level marketers may be reluctant to accomplish certain administrative tasks.

Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless. Morris Chang

If you’re seriously considering outsourcing, you can either hire an agency or work with freelancers. Both give you quite a bit of flexibility.

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Regardless of their size, many businesses outsource the following marketing activities:

  • Advertising
  • Website development
  • SEO, pay-per-click advertising and retargeting
  • Content curation and content creation
  • Video creation
  • Social media
  • Graphic design work

But even if you were to contract out all these services, outsourcing does not mean you should “abdicate” your marketing to an agency or freelancer.

As explained in our article, What You Need to Know to Become a Talented B2B Marketer, success in B2B marketing requires clever orchestration of many specialists’ efforts and the ability to break down sales and marketing silos. This calls for a very different skillset.

3. Can you afford top talent?

Canada’s labour shortage is affecting all industries. As a result, many small businesses can’t afford to pay for top talent.

When you need a specialist, outsourcing often gets you better expertise at a cheaper price.

Besides, these specialists may use tools you don’t have access to. The cost would be prohibitive for you, but they can spread it out among several clients.

4. Which one is cheaper?

At first glance, hiring is always cheaper than outsourcing. At least on paper.

But hiring comes with some hidden costs such as employee onboarding and reduced productivity during the ramp-up period. The biggest cost is wasted management time. Whereas when you outsource the work to an agency, less supervision is required.

Related: How to Select the Right Content Marketing Agency

Also, hiring takes time. Assuming you hire a marketing rock star tomorrow, it will probably take a couple of months before this person becomes fully operational. When you’re growing fast, this “opportunity cost” can be substantial.

That said, marketing is not a cost, it’s an investment. So, depending on where you are on your business journey, the question is not so much “Which one is cheaper?” but “Which one will bring you closer to your goals?”

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5. Does it have to be either/or?

It rarely is.

Here again, a better question might be: What part of your marketing should you outsource? Hint: Go back to question 1.

Then, ask yourself: Is this a temporary or permanent arrangement? In other words, envision the future of your marketing department.

When entrepreneurs hear that they need to both hire and outsource, panic often ensues: “Are you saying I should both hire and outsource? How could I possibly afford both?”

The short answer is: Other businesses have done it before you, so you can too!

Three different approaches to hiring or outsourcing

One way to start is to hire a marketing consultant to get some insight into your marketing strategy and prioritize your marketing needs. Depending on the nature of the work that needs to be done, you’ll know if hiring or outsourcing makes more sense. The marketing consultant may even refer you to other agencies, freelancers, or potential hires.

Another possibility is to hire a senior marketing professional. Be careful here, because if you hire someone who is over qualified and not sufficiently challenged, she will leave. Employee turnover and disengagement can be very costly for a small business.

However, if she is doing some of the ground work temporarily with the perspective of building an entire marketing team in 12 or 18 months, she could be a tremendous asset for your organization.

What about hiring juniors? There’s nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of juniors with a growth mindset who need more work experience. As surprising as it may sound, they do not always have a marketing background.

You are clearly hiring for attitude here, someone who’s eager to learn and grow. Their contribution to your success can greatly exceed the ones of people who “know it all.” Just ask Satya Nadella.

But you’ll have to feed their desire to learn. And if marketing is not your forte and you’re already short on time, it might be better to hire a marketing coach to help them grow. From there, the junior person can become more senior, and you can still afford to outsource part of your marketing.

As you can see, there is no “right way” of getting your marketing done. You’ll have to find the right solution for you.

Share with us what you’ve learned along the way in the comments section below.

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