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At What Point Can a Small Business Use an In-House Marketing Specialist?

By: Outright

 

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When a small business owner first starts out, it’s often possible to drive at least a little bit of business without too much marketing: if you’ve been planning to launch your company for a while, you probably have a few ideas of prospective customers who you can approach directly. But to grow your business, you’re going to need to market your business—and probably aggressively if you want to reach audiences who don’t yet know how much you can help them.

 
But, if you do everything right, you’re rapidly going to find yourself in a position where you have too much to do: either you can spend your time marketing your business or you can spend your time taking care of the customers you’ve already brought in. Managing both at once can be tough, but limiting yourself to one of the two tasks at a time means that you’ll be stuck in the feast and famine cycles many small businesses struggle to break out of. The logical way to handle the situation is to hire someone to take on the work of marketing your business.
 
Getting the Marketing Help You Need Fast
 
Depending on how large your company is, you may not have enough work to keep an employee busy full-time. Even if you do, you’ll likely find that it doesn’t make sense for your first hire to do one thing exclusively—you probably need someone who can handle practically everything to work as your spare pair of hands.
 
A marketing specialist, however, may still be able to make a big difference in your business, even if you only work with her on a part-time basis. You can bring in a freelancer or a consultant for relatively low costs to take on some marketing work, long before it makes sense to hire someone full-time to promote your business. Depending on your growth, you may even find that working with an agency makes sense, especially if you have concrete marketing projects (like building your website) that you can have them handle.
 
Eventually, however, you’re going to need a more long-term approach than calling in someone only when a marketing project comes up, in order to avoid that feast-or-famine situation. You’ll need someone who can be constantly marketing your company, coming up with new strategies and implementing new campaigns. To get to that point, however, you’re going to need a few things.
 
The Financial Considerations for a Full-time Marketer
 
Before you can hire an employee who will focus primarily on marketing, you have to have some room in your budget. On the surface a freelancer can seem far more expensive—you’ll be used to paying a per hour rate, usually well above $50 per hour if you’re working with someone experienced. But you haven’t needed to pay the other costs that pile on top of a salary for an employee, like benefits, taxes, a computer, software, a desk, and so on. Furthermore, you’re going to be switching from a model where you’re paying just for time associated with a specific project to paying the cost of having an employee day in and day out. That’s not necessarily a problem, but you need to make sure your company is already set up for the shift.
 
You also need to make sure that you’ve got the resources your marketing specialist will need to achieve great results. While many marketing specialists can work wonders with a small budget, it’s still necessary to have at least that small amount of resources to work with. Even something as simple as being able to pay for some software to help your employee work faster can make a world of difference. So set aside some resources, preferably before you even write out a job listing for the classifieds.
 
Putting Together a Plan Ahead of Time
 
While your goal should be to find a marketing specialist who is self-directed—someone who is an expert at getting your business the attention and the sales it needs—you shouldn’t plan to throw a new hire into the deep end and see if she can swim. You need to have a general sense of what you’re asking your new marketing specialist to do.
 
Given that you’ve likely been managing all of your own marketing up to this point, you should be familiar with what’s been working for your company up to this point. Just writing down a few notes about what you’ve tried, along with what has and hasn’t worked, will let your marketing specialist skip anything you’ve already tried. It’s also worth pulling together any data you can share about your promotional analytics and sales figures. Don’t just forward reports from your website analytics package; put together as much information as possible.
 
You’ll need that data anyhow, so that you can start your marketing specialist off with some reasonable goals. If you can give a new hire numbers to shoot for that are attainable (with a little work), you can offer that person a little more freedom in choosing what strategies and tactics he wants to use to hit those figures. If you plan out those goals before you even start the hiring process, you can actually ask about specifics during the interview process—if candidates can give a good response to the question of how they would reach specific types of goals, you can get a better idea of their familiarity with marketing in your niche.
 
With the necessary financial resources in hand, along with enough of a plan to get started, your business will be ready to hire a marketing specialist. However, if you’re finding it complex to pull together those two items, you may find that you’re not yet in a position where hiring full-time help will make sense.
 
This article was originally published by Outright.com
Published: February 28, 2014
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