Most businesses start out as one bold entrepreneur wearing every hat. But as companies progress, more tasks arise that demand your time, attention, and energy. Soon, the bold entrepreneur must look to delegate some of these tasks, or risk failing.
One task that is often offloaded is marketing. It’s a challenging and time-consuming, yet absolutely essential activity that can dictate the growth trajectory of a company… if executed properly. But when does it make sense to offload marketing (both traditional and digital marketing) and advertising efforts, and how do you determine whether to hire a marketing agency, freelancer, or in-house marketer?
Do-it-yourself marketing isn’t always advisable, rewarding, or practical. It’s time to look to marketing specialists for help when…
Marketing isn’t your forte
Marketing is an entire field of study. It takes time, dedication, patience, practice, and iteration. If marketing and advertising, online or offline, isn’t a strength or passion of yours, you should consider hiring a dedicated marketing resource. Marketing is a mission-critical competency and scaling your company will be premised on scaling your marketing function – as in hiring resources to handle marketing for you.
You hit your marketing prowess limit
Many founders are keen to consume books, articles, YouTube videos, and other marketing content, and their company is the first place they have actively implemented those marketing tactics. Eventually, the company’s stage or scale surpasses the sphere of marketing competency and organizational growth is throttled by marketing expertise.
It is difficult to determine when you’ve hit your marketing prowess limit, but if you feel like you’ve “tried everything” or a forest of tactics is overshadowing a cohesive marketing strategy, you are probably hitting a plateau. Professional online marketers (or offline, depending on your needs) will help you push through the marketing plateau. Hiring a marketing expert resource will help alleviate your expertise unease and can offer you powerful insights, marketing growth strategy, and afford you the advertising firepower you need to take your business to the next level and beyond.
Your time is better spent elsewhere
Your time is better spent working on the business, not in the business. There are so many tasks needed to support a business, and they’re all important. If you find that marketing is falling to the wayside simply because you can’t find the room in your schedule, it’s time to bring someone else in to bring it up to speed and keep your business growth momentum going. This way, you get to focus on doing what you do best: running your business, while leaving the marketing to expert growth hackers.
Where to look for the marketing help you need:
Once you’ve arrived at the conclusion that it’s time to bring in a professional to take care of your marketing, what’s next?
When it comes to handing off your growth marketing strategy to someone else, you have the following three options:
- Hiring individual marketing freelancers
- Building your own in-house marketing team (including a growth marketing manager)
- Looking for outside help in a growth marketing agency.
Here is what you should consider when hiring a marketing freelancer vs. an in-house team vs. a marketing agency.
Individual Marketing Freelancers
- Affordable – the narrow scope of freelancer marketing projects, as well as the no-frills approach of a single, skilled professional, makes hiring an advertising or digital marketing freelancer an affordable option.
- Single point of contact – individual growth hacking consultants are self-contained units, you won’t have to worry about jumping through hoops to reach the right contact or waiting for your communication to circulate through a whole team. With freelancers, communication is streamlined and simple.
- Specialists – growth marketing consultants for hire are often growth experts in their specific craft, versus jacks-of-all-trades. If you have a finite, focused project, finding a growth hacker with the precise skills you need could be an efficient and fruitful solution to your problem.
- Creative control – freelance internet marketers fill the execution function, they help bring your vision to life. That means you have complete control over what that vision is. If you have the ideas and just need help executing them, a freelancer is a great option because it allows you to be intimately involved in the creative process.
- Split focus – as independent contractors, individual growth hackers handle their own workload and, odds are, that workload involves other projects. In essence, you are only renting a portion of the freelancer’s mind-space and, as a result, their dedication.
- Limited bandwidth – as a single person juggling multiple clients at the same time, a single digital marketing consultant has limited bandwidth they can and are willing to allocate to your project. Keeping in mind their other projects, it’s important to understand the realistic limits to a freelancer’s bandwidth and how unpredictable bandwidth can be.
- Restricted skill set – online marketing can require a spectrum of skills including, but not limited to, traffic generation, funnel creation, website design, copywriting, influencer reachout, PR, among others. It’s unrealistic to expect one person to be adept at all aspects of marketing. Therefore, if you want comprehensive marketing help, understand that even the “best” growth hacker will have certain skills that are more honed than others.
- Coordination costs – given specialization differences, multiple individual resources may be needed to work on different aspects of the same marketing project. However, facilitating communication between everyone to get a cohesive product can be challenging and more time-consuming than anticipated.
In-House Growth Marketing Team
- Product and company familiarity – you can count on an internal team to know the nuances of your business and industry.
- 100% dedication to your project – if you build a dedicated in-house growth marketing team, you won’t have to worry about split focus or divergent goals.
- Industry expertise – an in-house marketing team, complete with a growth hacking manager, will learn about your industry and continue accruing knowledge specific to your market. They become industry experts who can inform precise marketing campaigns tailored to your company niche and needs.
- Accountability – as a part of the company, an internal digital marketing team will stick around to see the results of their actions… or else 🙂
- Expensive – to assemble an in-house growth marketing team, you’ll need an up-front investment (in both time and dollars) for recruitment, funds for payroll and train new employees, and money set aside for benefits and paid-time-off.
- Difficult to pivot (or fire) – should a growth marketing strategy not pan out, or you need to hit the pause button, it may be difficult for an in-house digital marketing team invested in the creation of that strategy to admit failure and abandon it to try alternatives. Additionally, depending on what state or country you are in, it may be very difficult or costly to fire an in-house resource.
- Risk of a creative rut – when working with the same products at the same company for a while, it’s easy to fall into the trap of tradition and reject creative approaches that may be needed to shake up your marketing, either online or offline.
Growth Marketing Agency
- Experience – a top growth marketing agency with a diverse portfolio of past and existing clients will have a wide spectrum of marketing and advertising experiences across a multitude of situations and can apply this experience to help make your marketing a success.
- Diverse talent – as a collaboration between individuals with different backgrounds, working experiences, and skills, an accomplished growth hack marketing agency will be able to provide expert insights to suit any marketing situation your project may encounter.
- Opportunities for synergy – a growth hacking agency may be able to facilitate partnership and co-marketing opportunities within their client portfolio. By hiring a digital marketing agency, you may benefit from appropriate cross-pollination of the agency’s various clients.
- Cost efficient – you do not have to pay benefits, worry about sick-leave, and you can expand or contract costs as scope of work changes. Furthermore, marketing agencies pay for premium research, analytics and other marketing tools your marketing campaign needs – meaning one less expense than if you handled the tasks yourself.
- Fastidious work ethic – growth marketing agencies have to earn their keep every month. That means you know they’ll work hard to meet and exceed your expectations – their reputation depends on it.
- Burden reduction – after hiring a growth hacking agency, you get to take a step back. You can be as engaged or as hands-off as your bandwidth allows, all the while knowing the agency is singularly focused on marketing execution.
- Not part of the company – online marketing agencies are experts at jumping in and getting the lay of the land, but if you’re in a niche industry, make sure you allow time for the growth agency to familiarize itself with your line of work.
- Communication cadence – in-house teams and freelancers can be woven into existing communication mediums and generally have more availability for ad hoc conversations. Many internet marketing agencies will have pre-existing communication channels and prefer calendarized calls.
- Potential conflicts of interest – when looking to hire a growth marketing agency, be sure to vet it ensure they are not working with a competitor. That being said, management consulting agencies like McKinsey & Company openly work with Fortune 500 competitors telling clients they can’t afford not to know what other companies in their industry are doing.
- Selectivity – highly-regarded growth marketing firms can be selective with the clients they retain. If goals or expectations are misaligned, this may prevent an agency from proceeding.
Which Is It?
So which is it? Hire marketing freelancers, internal growth hackers as employees, or a growth marketing agency?
The answer depends…
If you are just starting out and building your business on a shoestring budget, you may consider hiring freelancers for specific tasks while continuing to lead the online marketing efforts. This will allow you to conserve cash resources and allow for cautious scaling of your marketing budgets.
If you have a well-funded business and have an organizational structure capable of managing an in-house growth team, hiring employees is the way to go. An in-house team gives you the option to make on-the-fly adjustments, while minimizing lag time between ideation and execution.
And if your business is somewhere in between, a reputable growth marketing consulting firm may be the optimal route for you to take. An agency allows you to be more “hands-off” while marketing is still in “safe hands.” The added benefit of hiring a growth marketing hacking agency is they can serve as a transitional source as you building out your internal marketing team. A credible growth agency will be able to “knowledge transfer” as you build your internal team.
Here’s a list of the most recognized growth marketing agencies for hire in the United States: Best Growth Marketing Agencies in the US.