Written by Jackie Carrillo, a content coordinator and contributor who writes on technology, marketing, business management and education.
For high-achieving startup founders and entrepreneurs, marketing might feel like a no-brainer to tackle on your own. Plus, today’s online marketing platforms make it easy to post, track and engage.
Not so fast. It isn’t 2010. Digital marketing consists of much, much more than posting on Facebook once a week and using Google AdSense. To compete effectively, you more than likely need an aggressive digital marketing strategy, which requires full-time marketing efforts by experienced and knowledgeable marketers.
This leaves you with two options: Create an in-house marketing department or outsource. Anyone who advises you to build a DIY digital marketing program probably also advocates for hiring in-house marketing staff. But is it really the more economical choice? Read on to learn the costs and benefits of in-house marketing to determine whether building a marketing department allows for optimal marketing efficiency.
How Many Marketers Do You Need?
Obviously, more in-house marketers means higher costs. However, it isn’t always clear how many marketers your business needs to accomplish its marketing goals. Some startups have massive marketing needs to jumpstart visibility and audience engagement; meanwhile, a larger business might have relatively meager marketing goals because it has a self-perpetuating customer base or otherwise doesn’t need extensive marketing.
According to the Small Business Administration, you should dedicate 7 percent of your gross revenue on marketing. Thus, if your business earns US$2.5 million in sales this year, next year you should have a marketing budget of around US$175,000. What does that get you in terms of in-house marketing staff? That largely depends on your location, but here are broad salary ranges for typical marketing professionals:
- Marketing Strategist: $56,000–$106,000
- Marketing Analyst: $47,000–$82,000
- Ad Manager: $46,000–$66,000
- Web Developer: $57,000–$123,000
- Copywriter: $38,000–$102,000
- Content Editor: $37,000–$80,000
- Video Producer: $42,000–$88,000
- Graphic Designer: $34,000–$69,000
- Social Media Manager: $37,000–$81,000
A core marketing team, stripped down to nuts and bolts, should have a strategist, a content producer and a content manager. If your startup or SMB has that aforementioned US$175,000 constraint, you essentially get to choose two professionals to keep on staff—and that hardly gives you enough to cover the costs of their tools and projects.
What Tools Will the Team Require?
Marketers, on their own, are close to useless. To produce anything, marketers need a wealth of tools at their disposal—specifically marketing software that allows them to create, organize and publish content with which your buying audience will engage. This is especially true of skeleton marketing crews, who rely heavily on automated software to execute plans while the marketers are focusing on other tasks.
Almost regardless of the size and experience of your marketing team, you will need to provide your in-house department with the following five tools:
- Project management software: about US$100 per month. Marketers require some of the most extensive coordination, and having project management software keeps everyone on the same page. There are free project management tools, but paid options are generally better.
- Marketing automation software: US$100–12,000 per month. Low-budget marketing automation provides fewer services, and more expensive automated tools are more robust. You should talk to your team to determine what features they need and thus what the price point is likely to be.
- Customer relationship management software: US$5–300 per month. The great thing about CRMs is that this tool is used across your company, by marketing as well as sales and customer service, so in paying more, you might save on other tools for other departments.
- Content amplification: US$50–100 per published post. Content shouldn’t only exist on your business website; you need to build links back to your web assets to rank high in search results. Unfortunately, it costs to build a network of such valuable links.
- SEO software: $US80–600 per month. Speaking of links, search engine optimization is incredibly important for long-term ROI for digital marketing efforts. SEO tools help marketers optimize content for search, which can be a tedious and complex process.
How Effective Will an In-house Team Be?
Marketing is important—but it might not be important enough for a startup to dedicate an overwhelming portion of its budget to keeping marketing efforts in-house. A two- or three-person marketing team will be overstretched, especially if they lack any of the tools marketing efforts heavily rely on. Compare that to an outsourced marketing company that’s staffed with experienced (and efficient) professionals with the latest marketing software options at their fingertips. These experts will likely be able to assess your needs and advise you on making the most of your budget.
When it comes to marketing, don’t make the mistake of assuming you can bootstrap your strategy. Invest in your growth by investing in your marketing team.