As a small business owner, you have a lot on your plate. Not only do you have to be an expert in the product or service you’re offering, but the moment you open your doors, you must also be an expert in business, finances, customer service etc.
That’s a lot of hats to wear at once, so you might pause before deciding to also put on a marketer’s hat and take on your business’s promotion by yourself.
Hiring a marketer can make things a lot easier for you, but there are a lot of things to consider before doing so.
Fortunately, we’re here to help. We’re giving you four important questions to ask yourself before hiring a marketer to make sure you find the right fit for your needs!
Here are the questions we’ll cover:
1. Do I need to hire a marketer in the first place?
When you first start out, and money is tight, you’re likely to do marketing on your own for awhile, no matter what. At a certain point, though, you’ll grow big enough to consider whether it’s worth hiring a marketer or to continue doing it on your own.
You may think that your business is still too small or too new to benefit from a professional marketer, or that you can’t afford a marketer’s services on your initial budget.
Would it be better to just go it alone and develop your own marketing plan? Should you wait until you’ve hit a certain level of growth first?
These are legitimate concerns, but you also need to take a broader view on the subject and consider what’s the best use of your particular skill set.
According to small business marketing strategist and consultant Kayla Leverton, you need to ask yourself whether you could be doing something else with your valuable time:
“Entrepreneurs often pursue their dreams because they’re good at something. Unless their startup is a marketing agency, marketing probably isn’t that thing they’re good at. Small business owners and leaders should be spending their time doing the thing that results in the highest ROI for their business.”
Kayla Leverton, marketing strategist/consultant
But, it may be possible that you have the necessary background and skills to run your own marketing campaigns.
Dr. John B. Dinsmore, an assistant professor of marketing at Wright State University, notes that, “If the business owner has a solid professional background in marketing, then it may make sense to do it yourself since you have the skills and (one assumes) market knowledge. If the owner’s background is in another discipline, it likely makes sense to bring someone in.”
Eagan Heath, owner, of Madison, WI internet marketing company Get Found Madison, argues that business owners handling their own marketing should be:
- Tech-savvy enough to enact changes on the backend of their website.
- Willing to keep up-to-date on marketing best practices by reading and watching videos.
- Able to prolifically produce and post SEO-optimized blog and social media content on a regular basis.
- Knowledgeable enough about their marketing funnel, so they know how to gauge their progress via analytics.
If you feel confident that you can meet these qualifications, then you may want to continue functioning as your own marketer, even if you’ve grown to the point where you could hire somebody else.
If you do, you should also consider purchasing marketing automation software. These systems will help you maximize your marketing campaigns while minimizing the amount of time you spend on them, allowing you to be the most efficient self-marketer possible.
For everyone else, however, the question becomes whether to permanently hire a marketing professional or outsource it to a separate contractor or agency.
2. Should I hire an in-house marketer or outsource?
Once you’ve decided you need help with marketing, you have to choose what type of a marketing professional you want to hire—a permanent employee or a freelancer.
One of the primary considerations here is the overall expense of bringing on a new hire versus outsourcing to somebody else.
Hiring a full-time marketing employee is going to be more expensive than contracting an agency (even if that agency is just one individual marketer), but you might reap benefits down the line.
Benefits of Hiring an In-House Marketer
As Elijah White, a digital marketing specialist at Morris-Sockle, explains, “Outsourced marketing companies will be working on dozens of different campaigns at the same time that they are working on yours.”
On the other hand, “An in-house marketing specialist will be dedicating 100 percent of their time focusing on your specific needs and have a very vested interest in getting those needs met.”
Similarly, Dima Moroz, a digital marketing strategist at Kanbanize, explains that small businesses with limited budgets would do well to hire an in-house marketer, since with outsourced agencies, “You will get what you are paying for, but don’t expect any unplanned creativity bursts or anything outside of the package of services you sign up for.”
Benefits of Outsourcing
On the other hand, though, Michael Heiligenstein, director of SEO at Fit Small Business, argues that there are added benefits to outsourcing your marketing:
“Hiring a contractor or freelancer to handle your marketing needs brings together the best of both options. You’re hiring an expert to handle your marketing part-time but also learning from your contractor to be able to handle these duties on your own, in the future. As you begin to pick up what they’re doing, then you’ll be able to determine how often you’ll need their services. You can also bring them in from time to time to check on what you’re doing and see if you’re going down the right path.
Michael Heiligenstein, director of SEO, Fit Small Business
Thus, if you are looking to take on marketing yourself down the line, or can’t quite afford a full-time staffer just yet, then hiring a freelancer may be the path for you.
You can learn as much as possible from them while they are working with you, and gain the skills and confidence to develop your own in-house strategy that can be taken on by you or by a full-time hire when you can afford one.
Either way, you want to ensure that your marketer, whether in-house or outsourced, is a good fit for your company and its needs.
3. Does this marketer understand my vision?
Marketers are people too, and they’re not one-size-fits-all. Whether you’re permanently hiring somebody or entering into a temporary contract, you need to find a marketing professional or team that is right for you and your business.
First and foremost, you need somebody who understands what your company does—what it makes, how it makes it and what its goals and mission are.
Be direct and straightforward from the outset; neither of you will be happy if you have conflicting visions or strategies for your company’s marketing.
Clear, constant communication is important both before and after hiring a marketer.
Content marketing strategist Liz Froment explains:
When I work with clients it’s really important for me to have a clear understanding of their needs, goals and expectations. That’s why upfront and consistent communication is so important. . . . I need to know about their target customers, the buyer’s journey and the ultimate action they want potential customers to take. Additionally, it’s also really important to set expectations that are realistic and demonstrate results throughout the process. No one is served well if the business owner expects a magic bullet that any marketing professional would be unable to deliver.”
Liz Froment, content marketing strategist
How can you ensure that the marketer you hire fits with your goals and understands your vision? Simple. Ask lots of questions!
4. What more do I need to know about this marketer?
When you’re hiring a marketer, either as an employee or a freelancer, you need to ask as many questions as you would when hiring any other professional.
Use these queries as an opportunity to weed out those who don’t fit and to get to know more about those who might be an excellent match for your particular industry and customer.
Professor Dinsmore recommends that you, “ask a candidate how much they know about your field. If they don’t have extensive knowledge, that’s not a disqualifier.
But if that person doesn’t have extensive knowledge but does have very certain opinions about what your company needs and the types of results they can bring, that’s a red flag.”
Liz Froment explains that you need to make sure the person you hire listens to you and understands your goals, rather than imposing their own, while Carolina Sobel, a marketing analyst at SoulFire, recommends asking in-depth questions to focus on learning measurable details about your potential hire/contractor and their marketing methods and history.
After talking to these experts, we’ve compiled this list of questions they recommend asking:
- What facts, percentages and real results can you show me?
- What is your communication style?
- What kind of experience should we expect working with you?
- What kind of updates do you provide during the project?
- What do you know about my business?
- What steps would you follow if you’re being tasked to redesign the company’s brand strategy from the beginning?
- Who else have you worked for and for how long?
The more you get to know your potential marketer prior to hiring them, the more confident you can be that you’ve snagged the right fit for your business.
Here are some next steps to think about as you consider hiring a marketer:
- Ask yourself the key questions: Is my business large enough yet to hire a marketer? Do I hire a staffer or outsource? Is this person a good fit? What do I need to ask to find out more about them?
- If you’re thinking of hiring an outside marketer, check out Inbound.org to get some insight into the different techniques that are trending amongst professional marketers today.
- If you’re considering doing your own marketing, read user reviews of the top marketing software to learn more about systems that will make your job easier.
- Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. I’m happy to help you figure out what your own marketing software needs might be and to connect you to one of our expert software advisors for a free, no-obligation consultation!