Is it better to have an in-house marketing person or outsource the work?

Whilst hiring a marketing person in-house may seem like the perfect answer if you are feeling stressed and pushed for time, it may not fix all your issues. You may find you don’t get the results you wanted, and are spending more time explaining or fixing things. The person you hire might not be a culture fit within your team or you may find your budget doesn’t quite allow for another full time employee.

If you don’t spend the time to train and ease your new hire into your firm, it won’t be fair on them and they may be expected to do things they aren’t capable of because you haven’t thought clearly about what you want them to achieve, and what’s a fair expectation.

Hiring an outsourced marketing team is another option (and may we say, a great one!) but that doesn’t make it an easy solution with no effort either. As they are not in your office with you, it’s critical you communicate often and openly with them. You need to be clear about who you are and what messages you want your marketing to portray. You need to be actively involved in your marketing so your tone of voice and message shine through everything that is done. We find the best marketing words and thoughts come from our clients!

If you choose to outsource your marketing, you need to remember they will have other clients as well, so they won’t be available to you instantly. If you develop a good relationship with your marketing team and you follow the process and both parties stick to deadlines, this is rarely an issue. Our clients develop a good balance of involvement with us in their marketing by:

  • Being involved in decisions around their marketing strategy
  • Showing up to their monthly meetings
  • Having open conversations with us about things like: issues their clients are having, new solutions they offer, or new software they are using
  • Investing their time in training courses to understand the true value of the marketing they are doing
  • Spending time reviewing content and design items and offering valuable feedback where needed.

The first question to ask is, where are you on your marketing journey?

Are you just starting out? Do you have a website and a strong online brand presence? Do you know who your target audience is? Are you still figuring out your niche?

If you are just starting out, we’d recommend you look into an outsourced marketing option and focus on the basics. Figure out your target audience, get a website built, and start writing content that answers the questions your target audience has. Without these foundational elements, you will struggle to get any real value from things like PPC, Facebook ads, higher level SEO, or webinars and events.

As you grow and understand more about marketing and what it truly means, you’ll find you want to step up your marketing efforts and do more in-house, but you don’t have the time to manage it. This could be the right time for you to hire an in-house marketing person.

But you can’t just switch from an outsourced team to an in-house marketing person. The expectations are different, the role is different and therefore, the outcomes will be different. No better or worse necessarily, just different.

You might also decide you want to keep your outsourced marketing team for some bits and pieces and have your in-house marketing person manage the admin and reviews.

We offer a bridging support service when this happens so everyone knows exactly what their role is and what’s expected of them.

In order to figure out if working with an outsourced team or an in-house marketing person is best for you, ask yourself these 6 questions.

1. Do you have the budget for a full time employee?

Marketing is a full time role. If you have an outsourced team helping with the more complex areas of marketing, and your in-house person is managing the admin and reviews, then a part time role is manageable. However, if you are expecting them to do ‘all the things’, then they need to be working on your marketing full time. Even then, you’ll find just one person can’t be a website expert, SEO expert, graphic designer, content writer and manager, social media expert, and more, all in one.

Besides paying an actual salary, you need to consider what your marketing budget is. How much money are you willing to invest in your marketing efforts and is that a fair amount to cover all the things you want your marketing person to achieve?

2. What are your expectations? Are they reasonable? And what is reasonable anyway?

Are you wanting to see results in the same month? Are you expecting 10 more clients in one month? What results are you expecting? It’s important to discuss your expectations at the beginning of your relationship, no matter if you work with an outsourced team or an in-house marketing person.

It may be what you are expecting is unrealistic and this is the opportunity for your marketing person to let you know and for you both to agree upon what the goals and expectations are.

So what’s realistic? On average, it takes about 30 months of continuous content marketing for you to start seeing results. Not what you were expecting, right? That’s why it’s even more important to start now!

3. What skills does your potential in-house marketing person have?

Just because they have a marketing qualification and experience working in a marketing position, doesn’t mean they know how to do all the things.

Can they write, design, strategise, update your website and project manage everything? Do they understand about niche, tone of voice, Google Analytics, SEO and user experience?

Are they able to lead your marketing or are they more of a “tell me what to do and I’ll get it done” kind a person?

This is why we explain outsourcing to PF means you get a team of marketing people who specialise in their own areas of marketing. You also get a Client Marketing Manager who works with you and the team to get everything done, on time and to the highest standard so your agreed upon expectations are met. PF exists because one size never does fit all.

Even if your hired marketing person does have all the skills, it will take time for them to get everything done. When you outsource your marketing to a team, you can have multiple people working on different things at the same time. It’s far more productive, as long as you have someone managing everything and checking in on deadlines.

If you already work with an in-house marketing manager, there are various ways that you can help them, and you, achieve your firm’s goals.

4. Is your marketing hire willing to go through marketing training? Are you?

If your new hire is happy to go through training, it’s always a good sign. It shows they want to learn and develop their skills and don’t think of it as a sign of weakness they don’t know everything, but rather a sign of curiosity and growth.

If your in-house marketing person is qualified but is lacking in experience in a particular area of marketing, our Accelerator course might be just what they need. It provides a good foundation of all the marketing elements and how to adjust things to fit your niche or area of expertise.

Although they may be qualified and worked in marketing for 10 years, they may have not worked in the accounting industry before, or worked within your particular niche before. They need to understand your target audience before they can create content and think of strategies for that particular market.

If you are interested in sending them for training, we highly recommend you do the training with them. How do you expect to review strategies and marketing pieces, if you don’t understand what the end goal or big picture is? It may take an hour of your time for a few weeks, but the benefit you will get from it is well worth it.

Where possible, we suggest getting your whole team to join the training. Getting your team to understand the core elements of marketing is the first step to getting team buy-in.

It’s also important to discuss with your marketing person what your expectations are from the training. What do you want them to do after the course? Do they need to produce anything during the course?

5. How much time do you have for strategy and review?

If you are hiring an in-house marketing person or outsourced marketing team to save yourself time, you can’t just step away after handover. Even if you are confident in your marketing person and you allow them to lead, the firms who do the best with their marketing are the ones where the owners or directors are still involved.

If you stop being involved, your marketing may work for a while, but over time, your message will get a little lost, the focus will shift and your results will start to decrease. You’ll find your marketing is just ticking over and not keeping up with competitors or shifting with the needs of your target audience. Tech and social media are continuously changing and it’s important your brand presence is consistent throughout those platforms.

You need to set aside time to review strategies and important marketing pieces to ensure your marketing is based on your brand, speaks in your style and tone of voice, and is continually shouting out your key messages.

It’s critical for you to have regular meetings with your marketing team to ensure you are still on the same page and your marketing is focused and consistent, and is still in line with the big picture. We suggest weekly check-ins on the marketing actions, and monthly reviews to look at your numbers (Google Analytics, Social Media posts and followers, Proposals sent and accepted etc.). This data will help you decide whether your marketing activities are helping you reach your marketing goals.

6. Do you have a clear brand and defined logo and brand guidelines?

If you don’t have a clear brand, no matter who you work with, you won’t get the results you envision. You need to know who you are, and how you want your target audience and prospects to see you. A few things to think about:

  • Logo: Your logo must be strong, and linked to who you are. It’s not enough to simply pick something you like the look of. It needs to have a story or a meaning behind it, because it influences all the marketing your person or team will be doing.
  • Colours: Have defined colours (with specific hex codes and RGB codes) so you always end up with the exact colour and not a shade darker or lighter. These need to be colours you feel fit with who you are and not just colours you like (although it’s easier to love your brand when it includes colours you like). We usually suggest you don’t choose more than 3 colours as this can make your brand unclear and confusing.
  • Imagery Type: Decide what type of imagery your brand uses (across your website, social, print media). Do you include people or tech, are they abstract images, black & white or in your brand colours?
  • Words: Have a list of words you use, and more importantly, don’t use. Decide on your style and tone of voice. It’s important people get a feel for how you communicate before they actually meet you (and that your words on your website and across your marketing channels match the way you speak in real life).

You want everything you do to be ‘on brand’ so people feel a strong brand presence whenever they interact with you.

Whether you have an in-house marketing person or you work with an outsourced team, it’s critical for you to have clear brand and logo guidelines drawn up. These define how you want the brand to be reflected in every marketing element. It removes any grey area and saves time and effort as you won’t need to spend ages explaining how you want everything to look and feel. Your brand and logo guidelines can also be sent to any outsourced teams you use (designers, content writers, printers), which means anyone who works on your marketing will know how you want your brand to be portrayed.

Think carefully about what would work best for you and your firm and what bits and pieces of your marketing you want your in-house marketing person or outsourced team to do. Think about why you want help with your marketing and what results you want to achieve.

Find time to get educated on all the elements of marketing so you can make an informed decision for your firm. And whatever you do, don’t make a rash decision without thinking about all of the above. The last thing you want to do is hire the wrong person because you were stressed and tired. You need to be sure the decision you make is truly the best one for your firm right now, and long term.