If you own or lead a small or medium-sized business, you have probably faced or are currently facing one of these common marketing situations.
- Outsourcing to an agency: You hired an agency hoping they could handle all of your marketing efforts. However, it quickly showed that they couldn’t deliver on their promises, didn’t understand what sets your business apart, or lacked genuine concern for its success. You might have felt like just another number to them.
- Delegating to a junior employee or an administrator: In an effort to ease your workload, you handed over marketing tasks to a team member who was keen for the job. Unfortunately, you quickly found their efforts were more akin to busy work, missing a strategic focus or real impact.
- Being the only one driving marketing and growth: You’ve admirably grown your business, wearing hats in both sales and marketing. But now, it’s crucial to pass on some responsibilities. Keeping up this pace isn’t sustainable for your own well-being or for scaling the business.
Regardless of which scenario hits closest to home, you have probably come to a crucial realization: you need capable, committed, and in-house individuals to lead your marketing efforts. Agencies cannot truly own your marketing. Delegating to inexperienced individuals wastes time. And leading marketing on top of all your other responsibilities is not sustainable.
So what do you do?
The Dilemma of Outsourcing vs. Building an Internal Marketing Function
I understand the situation you’re in. You’re aware of the drawbacks of fully outsourcing your marketing or relying on an inexperienced person.
You also recognize the importance of in-house accountability in marketing. But, creating an entire department for a company of your size can be both costly and daunting.
So, the big question remains: how do you establish a cost-effective marketing function that transforms into a profit-generating department without taking a massive risk and pouring in hundreds of thousands of dollars overnight?
Here is where you might consider the idea of hiring an “all-in-one” marketer. This person would be capable of handling all your marketing needs, wearing multiple hats such as strategist, content creator, SEO expert, social media guru, and graphic designer.
When faced with the choice of seeking out yet another agency or investing heavily in a full-blown marketing team, it’s only natural to seek a middle ground. That middle path might just be the pursuit of an “all-in-one” marketer.
However, before you embark on this path, I’d like to suggest a better approach. This method will help you gradually develop your marketing function while also ensuring accountability within your organization. It might also change how you perceive marketing, shifting it from being seen as a cost center to a revenue-generating department for your organization.
This article will advise against the pursuit of an “all-in-one” marketer and instead present a case for the alternative I propose. By considering this option, you’ll find a way to establish an internal marketing function without the need for an extensive team or complete reliance on agencies. Allow me to elaborate.
The Expectations and Reality of the “All-in-One” Marketer
At first glance, hiring an “all-in-one” marketer seems to offer several advantages. You only have to pay one salary to manage, there’s a clear point of accountability for marketing results, and you only need to communicate with one person. Moreover, having one person execute their strategy can appear to be a direct path from idea to execution.
However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that while this concept may seem enticing, the actual outcomes often differ. Let’s explore what owners and leaders expect from “all-in-one” marketers and how it usually plays out in practice.
|Single salary, no extra costs.
|Skilled, versatile marketers demand high pay and often require extra budget for hiring and outsourcing.
|One versatile marketer can work faster without the need for coordinating among large teams or departments.
|One person's time constraints lead to overwhelm, delays, and inefficiencies.
|Strategy & Execution
|An "all-in-one" marketer accelerates strategy into action.
|They'll be consistently reacting to immediate demands, hindering both strategy and execution.
|"All-in-one" marketers are plentiful.
|Expect candidates who feign expertise as experienced marketers tend to avoid "all-in-one" roles.
|They'll be responsible for all marketing aspects.
|They will quickly be overwhelmed and need to delegate, outsource, or hire someone to help.
|Hiring an "all-in-one" lets you focus on other aspects of your business.
|Expect rapid turnover, leading to you having to pick up the pieces of your marketing and restart your search from scratch.
At this point, you might be wondering, “What should I do instead?” Allow me to present a step-by-step, balanced approach. It involves gradually building a minimum viable marketing team with a dedicated leader who can implement systems, processes, and strategy while making strategic use of external resources. This approach not only mitigates potential pitfalls but also establishes the groundwork for long-term marketing success.
The Alternative: Build a Minimum Viable Marketing Team (MVMT)
Having discussed some of the potential drawbacks of hiring an “all-in-one” marketer, let’s now explore a more effective solution: the creation of a minimum viable marketing team.
Rest assured, this doesn’t entail an overnight recruitment of 10 individuals. The goal here is to identify and bring on board the right individuals who will form the foundation of your marketing success. Below, I’ll outline the three key elements of a minimum viable marketing team — the core positions or types of professionals I recommend considering when embarking on the journey of building your MVMT, along with the attributes they should ideally possess, and a sample of their job description:
1. Marketing Leader
Marketing is a team sport and every team needs a captain. A marketing leader can work full time, part time, or even just a fraction of the time. In your search, titles like Head of Marketing, Marketing Director, CMO, or Fractional CMO may apply.
They must possess extensive marketing expertise, demonstrate a track record of adept leadership and strategic decision-making, grasp business intricacies, display attentive listening skills, and excel in team guidance. These skills will help them prioritize which market segments to target, foster a collaborative team environment, and adapt quickly to changes.
At the outset, their primary goal is to soak up as much information as possible about your company, the target customer base, and the previous marketing efforts.
Their focus should be on swiftly absorbing information, formulating a strategy, and determining the roles to be filled when building your team.
2. Marketing Coordinator
To bring marketing from planning and strategy to action and implementation, you’ll need an executor — someone devoted to organizing and carrying out marketing efforts. Enter the Marketing Coordinator or Marketing Technician. They are adaptable generalists who know how to get things done. They manage projects and collaborate with vendors and freelancers to ensure successful execution. They serve as a vital bridge between strategy and action in the initial phases and require a full-time commitment.
They should excel in analysis and technical tasks, have strong research skills, demonstrate proficient project management abilities, and possess an understanding of campaign monitoring, vendor management, and SEO performance. Flexibility, a desire for learning, and effective collaboration with both internal and external partners are also vital.
In the early stages, collaboration between your marketing leader and coordinator will be crucial in setting up internal marketing processes. This could involve tasks like configuring your CRM, tagging leads, using email and webinar software, and more. When it comes to content creation, your marketing coordinator will collaborate with agencies, freelancers, or a content manager for writing and design. This leads us to the final element of the MVMT.
3. Content Manager
While outsourcing content creation can be a temporary solution, the ultimate goal is to bring this role in-house by hiring a Content Manager, Marketing and Communications Manager, or Managing Editor. No one can capture your organization’s voice and message quite like someone who consistently creates content for you. Look for qualities like creativity, strong writing and editing skills, the ability to interview colleagues and customers effectively, and the capacity to turn insights into different types of content. They should also excel at working with both internal and external partners.
With a Content Manager in place, content creation and publication become markedly more efficient. They streamline workflows, oversee quality, and optimize distribution, ultimately leading to enhanced audience engagement and brand visibility. Additionally, your Content Manager takes charge of sourcing and crafting educational material, case studies, and video scripts by engaging with internal team members and satisfied clients Your marketing coordinator will then leverage this valuable and pertinent content to ensure it reaches the right audience.
Congratulations! You now know who and what to look for when assembling your minimum viable marketing team. Once you’ve assembled your MVMT, the responsibility now falls on your marketing leader to optimize the effectiveness of this core three-person team for as long as possible, being cautious about adding roles until absolutely necessary. When you’re ready to progress and expand your team even further, refer to our article “How to Build a Modern, Agile Inbound Marketing Team” for more insights. However, for the time being, you’ll rely on vendors and agencies to fill any specialized roles that do not yet exist internally.
The “All-in-One” Marketer vs. The Minimum Viable Marketing Team
By now, you’re likely wondering how an “all-in-one” marketer compares to a minimum viable marketing team. Let’s delve into key considerations and spotlight the potential drawbacks and benefits of each.
|Minimum Viable Marketing Team
|Cost Effectiveness & Simplicity
|Hiring an “all-in-one” marketer may initially appear simple and cheaper to start with, but can lead to long-term hidden costs, such as employee burnout, turnover, and unachievable results.
|While upfront costs for a team may be higher, it ends up being more profitable — it provides stability, consistent results, and reduced employee turnover. Moreover, the costs are incurred incrementally and the leadership position can be a fractional or part-time hire.
|There is a tendency to attract less experienced marketers, who may be naive or unaware of the unrealistic workload and goals they may be shouldering.
|Opting for an MVMT can attract a team of the appropriate experience level with realistic job descriptions, roles, and responsibilities.
|Leadership & Accountability
|Having a single individual to manage all marketing responsibilities can result in a lack of effective leadership and accountability. They will constantly be reacting and won’t be able to take a proactive or strategic approach.
|A minimum viable team with a designated leader ensures cohesive work toward defined goals and with the actual people resource needed to get there.
|Continuity & Transition
|When a single marketer departs, marketing momentum can grind to a halt, causing significant disruption and costs.
|In a team, the departure of a member is less disruptive, as others can step in and continue the work, ensuring uninterrupted marketing efforts. And the burden of the responsibility falls on the marketing leader, and not on you, the owner or business leader.
While the concept of an “all-in-one” marketer may seem enticing, opting for a minimum viable marketing team can draw in more seasoned professionals and be constructed incrementally. This approach guarantees strong leadership, accountability, and enhanced continuity and transition capabilities.
Opting for a minimum viable marketing team over chasing an elusive “all-in-one” marketer is a wise move for most business leaders. This choice safeguards against the wastage of precious time and resources, particularly if you’ve encountered the common scenarios outlined earlier: struggling with ineffective agency outsourcing, entrusting marketing to an inexperienced team member, or handling it all on your own.
In conclusion, the pursuit of an “all-in-one” marketer, though enticing, may not be the most pragmatic path to an effective marketing function. Recognizing the limitations of a lone individual, we’ve explored the concept of a MVMT. This foundational team, led by a dedicated leader with a strategic approach, enables gradual expertise expansion, ensuring that every facet of your marketing gets the attention it deserves.
Embracing this approach lays the groundwork for lasting marketing stability, consistent results, and ultimately, growth. While the initial investment may be steeper, the ROI in terms of effectiveness and sustainability justifies the effort. Moreover, the capacity for seamless adaptation and growth ensures your marketing remains agile and responsive to evolving demands. This approach empowers your business to thrive in today’s dynamic marketplace.
For further insights on building your MVMT, arrange a no-obligation call with a Fractional CMO.