Hot Dog Marketing has been serving organizations with ambitious growth goals for over a decade and owner, Jessica Scanlon, breaks down the decision-making process so growing firms can maximize their marketing investment with the right people.
Question 1: What Level of Strategic Help Do You Need?
Marketing for high-growth companies should sit with the C-Suite and have coordinated execution of tactics at the production level. Most small-to-medium size businesses do not need a full-time Chief Marketing Officer. They only need a high-level executive charged with growth (whether that’s the CEO, president, director of sales or operations), and they need a fractional CMO-level thinker to engage in research and strategy a few times a year.
CMO-level individuals are not well suited for execution in most cases. One of the myths businesses tell themselves is that they’ll find someone with the business acumen to develop the strategy, and that same person will manage the marketing day-to-day. Sometimes, this is a cost-saving measure due to the expense of hiring an experienced CMO. It stems from a belief that this is how to get the most ROI (return on investment) for the position. However, these are distinct roles with different skill sets at different levels of experience. Partnering with an agency that provides market research and strategy can satisfy your CMO-level needs at a fraction of the cost.
CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) or marketing director-level hires make sense for larger businesses or organizations with several complicated revenue lines. These businesses usually hire an agency for execution or have an existing team of marketers and creators that need more formal leadership.
Question 2: What Specialists Do You Need Access To?
Another area businesses fail to plan for is the need for specialists throughout the year. Mid-market firms need website developers, video producers, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) experts but not full time. Often, you see companies hire in-house staff only to realize there is still a need to find an agency to handle some of the more technical items that come up throughout the year.
If the business is not e-commerce based, then it likely does not need a full-time web developer or SEO specialist. Finding an agency that can take care of those areas as needed is key for just about any other type of business.
Question 3: Should You Hire a Marketing Coordinator?
There are scenarios, depending on the organization’s growth and marketing strategy, where it might make sense to hire a coordinator.
The first scenario is around community engagement. Agencies typically are not a good fit to handle on-the-ground marketing unless it’s a specialty of the agency. Staffing community events or tradeshow booths or engaging with the community on a one-on-one basis is usually a better fit for an in-house marketing coordinator or community engagement role. In addition, if growth is dependent on the creation, marketing, and management of several events throughout the year, an in-house person is often a better fit to manage those.
Another scenario that comes up often is when an organization is committed to having more than one marketing vendor in the mix. This might happen for several reasons. For example, they like their branding and website agency, but that agency doesn’t do digital marketing, so the company must hire a second agency to handle digital campaigns. In this scenario, there’s tremendous benefit to having an in-house person managing those agency partnerships and minimizing the confusion. This person does not have to be a marketing specialist necessarily.
Finally, and this is common among B2G and some B2B organizations, is hiring a marketing specialist whose primary role is coordinating, writing, and presenting proposals or answering RFPs (requests for proposals) and RFIs (requests for information). The mistake we see however is the same individual has the added duties of updating the website with case studies, handling email and social media marketing, and a myriad of other important brand-building duties that unfortunately don’t get the attention needed when they are buried among higher-priority proposal work. There is a large benefit to partnering with an agency in this case.
The other thing to remember is hiring a full-time marketing coordinator to run your marketing tactics may only make sense if there’s a strong marketing leader in your organization. Entry-level or even mid-level marketers are hungry to learn from a leader and need to be challenged creatively over time. If there isn’t that kind of leader in the organization, then you may be setting yourself up for a high-turnover role that results in extraordinarily little marketing momentum.
Final Question: How to Get Started?
In most cases, if the organization has clear revenue goals and business strategies set with their operations and sales teams, it makes sense to get started with an agency and see where it goes.
Hot Dog Marketing provides market research, strategy, branding, as well as website and marketing management and execution. We are a HubSpot Partner and specialize in HubSpot implementation for B2G and B2B service companies with ambitious growth goals. Our agency has worked with clients on successful initiative launches and has helped organizational leaders decide when it makes sense to start managing pieces of their marketing in-house through growth.
Typically, retainers with agencies like Hot Dog Marketing are going to cost far less than hiring someone full-time and the organization gains access to a variety of specialists as needed. In addition, it can be far easier to hold an agency accountable, since they’re fighting for your business, than it often is with an in-house team.
For companies whose growth strategies require branding, research, and updated websites, planning for those agency engagements can be an investment that happens every three to five years. We have resources on the Hot Dog Marketing website dedicated to budgeting and pricing that may be helpful.
Picking the right agency is important. If you’re interested in speaking to one of our client success representatives at Hot Dog Marketing, click here to schedule a free consultation.