You know you need to add marketing help to your team in 2018. You cannot afford to pay an executive-level person, but you as the CEO or COO don’t have the knowledge and time to manage a website, build a social media following, update your branding, learn graphic design and handle the regular updates to marketing collateral that is becoming necessary to grow your business.

So what should you do? The obvious choice is to hire what you can afford – a young, tech savvy entry level marketing coordinator right out of college who is hungry and knows about digital marketing! It sounds like a reasonable idea, right? They are on the web and their smartphone all the time. They can get your company up to speed on social media because the younger generation does that in their sleep. You can pay them to learn about website design and graphic design – how hard can it be?

Let’s take a closer look at the investment. For a full-time college graduate with a relevant education – communications, public relations, marketing – you will probably have to offer around $35-40,000 base pay per year to get good applicants. If you add benefits and taxes, that number can reach to the mid-$40s, or higher. And these are the hard costs. This doesn’t include the soft costs, like the lack of productivity you will get from her during the first 90-180 days as she learns your organization and gets up to speed. Or the time you will spend training, orienting, and coaching the new person to give you what you need. So this new marketing coordinator is going to cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000 in the first year. Consider what you’ll be getting in return for that much money.

Now let’s look at the job description. We talk to firms all the time and see job descriptions for this type of role in a small to midsize company. The hiring firm expects them to possess excellent verbal and written skills, design print and digital marketing collateral, manage email campaigns, oversee trade show design, maintain and update the company websitegenerate content for the website and newsletter, as well as many other tasks. I’ve been in business, primarily in sales and marketing, for 27 years. I’ve yet to meet any single person with all of those skills in one body! I’ve helped manage a marketing agency for over a decade – we have at least 4 people in our firm who collaborate to execute that range of skills on behalf of clients.

The truth is there are very few humans who have the combination of knowledge, skills, drive, and expertise to execute those job responsibilities. Most firms with these job openings are looking for a superhuman marketing person. And because they don’t know how rare (or impossible) it is to find all those characteristics in one human, they don’t know who to look for or the right questions to ask. Furthermore, they cannot accurately decide on the best candidate.

Conversely, let’s look at what $50,000 would get you in marketing if you considered another approach: partnering with a seasoned marketing agency.

Team of Experts. Agencies, like your company, are organized around skills. Most have website designers, graphic designers, content creators and writers, and project managers whose job it is to execute for clients. So instead of getting a young person who is inexperienced at nearly every task you’re asking him to do, you are getting a seasoned pro.

High Efficiency. You may think it costs more to hire an expert in anything. But there are two variables in the cost equation: money and time. If you are paying a young marketing coordinator $3,500/month, and you want them to update your website it may take them 90-120 days to get the job done. That may sound relatively fast to you but what if you engaged an agency for $7,500 and it was done in a 4 weeks? What are those additional 3 months worth in terms of generating business for your company?

The Right Strategy. Working with an agency that is active in industry and working on behalf of other client companies like yours helps insure that you will get an industry best practices approach. An experienced agency will engage you to set marketing strategy, employ the best tactics based on your value proposition and budget, and then execute. Further, they will measure the results and adjust to maximize ROI. An entry-level person cannot bring that strategic insight to your company.

Knowledge and Coaching. Consider that hiring an outside expert in their field makes you a better manager and a better professional. We are always looking to develop professional expertise, broaden our base of knowledge, and develop new skills. Bringing on a team of experts in any particular field – marketing included – can help any C-level executive become better. Our typical engagement is run by a partner who serves as an outsourced VP of Marketing or CMO. That is like adding a C-level person to your organization, instead of someone whose hand you may have to hold.

Exit Strategy. In the worst case scenario, if the relationship is not working or the results are not what you expect, it is pretty simple and straightforward to end an agency partnership. It is not like firing an employee where bad feelings or personal relationships can cause complications. In addition, hiring an entry-level person almost insures that they will use the job as a stepping stone to something better, likely with another company. And then you are left starting the cycle over again.

So what have you got to lose? Consider shifting your thinking – and that open position you have posted – to interviewing a couple of marketing agencies to fill that need. I’ll bet you will come a great deal closer to reaching your marketing and sales goals in 2018 if you do so.


If you are a decision maker in a professional services or consulting firm and want to learn more about optimizing return on marketing dollars, download ‘6 Core Competencies of Successful Consulting Firm Marketing’.

In it you will learn,

  • the three most important social media platforms for your firm to be on
  • two frameworks to refine your firm’s positioning
  • key components of your brand identity