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Hiring A Marketing Director? What Are You Actually Getting?

Marketing Director. Chief Marketing Officer or CMO. Whatever title you want to give it, there’s no denying that this job is more complicated than it has ever been.

In a survey by Adobe, 76% of marketers agreed that “marketing has changed more in the last two years than in the last 50.” – Source

Businesses have long experienced regret after hiring a Marketing Director. There are the high expectations, followed by the reality of a surprisingly low return. Have you recently hired a Marketing Director, or are you looking for one? Or maybe you are a Marketing Director, and you’re reading this because the title caught your attention. Or, better yet, maybe you’re fulfilling the responsibilities of a Marketing Director, even though you have little to no experience but your company doesn’t want to pay for one. Keep reading. It gets better.

Intelligent businesses realize they cannot slow the momentum in their marketing and branding. Therefore, it’s of the utmost importance to establish a plan of attack that makes the most financial sense with the resources and expertise at their disposal. What makes the most financial sense when it comes to hiring a Marketing Director versus outsourcing the marketing needs of a business? The breakdown may surprise you.

Skills Needed in a Marketing Director

Indeed.com gives a list of skills that the typical company expects in a Marketing Director:

• A qualified Marketing Director will be tasked with defining and executing the overall marketing strategy for the organization
• Manage marketing, advertising, and related budgets
• Management of public relations, web activities, social, trade shows, branding, SEO, SEM, catalogs, advertising, blogging, email, and lead generation (must have direct hands-on experience in at least 3 of these disciplines)
• Negotiating vendor pricing
• Outstanding communication and interpersonal skills
• Understanding of graphic design or design background preferred • Demonstrated ability to lead and inspire a team
• Thorough knowledge of marketing principles, brand, product and service management
• Entrepreneurial spirit
• Minimum Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing or marketing-related field • 5 years of direct experience required

That’s just to name a few.

Contrast that list with the “modern” marketing strategies list:

• Collateral development and production • Content development specialists
• Email programs
• E-newsletters
• Graphic artists
• Market research
• Marketing software
• Metrics/data analysts
• Mobile marketing specialists
• Printing
• PR specialists
• SEO/keyword research
• Social media specialists
• Special events
• Sponsorship
• Website development/re-engineering

While this is an extensive list, it’s incomplete. As we speak, new technologies, apps, and disciplines are being created, which makes keeping up a challenge. This rapid change in new technologies makes marketing in the 21st century hard for small businesses. – Source

Have Realistic Expectations

But can be realistically executed by one person? Unless you are hiring someone who possesses numerous college degrees, is almost 60 years old because he/she has been in school or working in these vocations for the majority of his/her life, then the person you hire cannot possibly have all of the skill sets that are required by today’s desired “Marketing Manager.”

To compound this issue, the Marketing Manager may not have the funds to fulfill the demands of the job. In a Forrester Research report, data shows that executive leaders have been asking team members to take on new responsibilities which include creating social media policies and setting new hiring standards across organizations; however, the impact these demands can have are severe as 89% of respondents say that they are required to do this without an increase in budget or resources.

What Makes a Good Marketing Team?

A good marketing team is typically comprised of a Project Manager/ Marketing Director (avg. yearly salary = $79,000); Web Designer (avg. yearly salary = $65,215); Copywriter (avg. yearly salary = $62,000); Digital Media Specialist (avg. yearly salary = $43,911); Web Developer (avg. yearly salary = $63,160); and at times a Public Relations Specialist (avg. yearly salary = $54,940).

The average cost of a team this size is approximately $368,226 according to payscale.com, which does extensive research on the salaries across the nation. Reminder – this is only if you hire at the average.

If you want more experienced team members or are an employer in a large market, then you will inevitably have to pay more. Most businesses try to hire a Marketing Director to do all of these jobs, “saving” the company $300,000.

The next question you have to ask yourself is whether you’re going to be able to keep the Marketing Director busy managing projects for 40 hours a week or more.

Will you be able to keep a web designer, web developer, copywriter, etc. busy for 40 hours as well? If so, then you should hire your own team. But if not, you should try to outsource the job of marketing.

What the business might not realize is that the Marketing Director cannot possibly possess all of the skills necessary to do all of these jobs well, and will either deliver an inferior product or will have to outsource those jobs.

Malcolm Gladwell spoke about this at great length when he wrote the book Outliers: The Story of Success. He discusses the 10,000 Hour Rule: a person must practice a skill for at least 10,000 hours before he/she has achieved mastery of that skill.

Here is what you really get: one skilled person trying to juggle the rest of the tasks that he/she might not be strong at completing.

What Can You Save?

Harvard Business Review said it best when they described a Marketing Manager’s position as “a discipline that was once principally creative has become increasingly analytic, as the old workhorses—print and television advertising, and direct mail—become less and less effective. Marketing managers tend to be right-brain creatives with a fondness for mass-marketing campaigns when what’s needed are left-brain number crunchers who zero in on the “market of one.”-Source

Marketing and branding firms hire people for these specific skill sets and have a focus in these areas. In outsourcing, you’re allowing them to let you focus on your business and do what you do best.

When trying to save money by hiring a Marketing Manager, you are failing to capture the true essence of what a branding firm can do with the human capital they possess.

Some of the newer demands frequently placed on Marketing Managers include social media responsibilities: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, AdWords, and more.

Everyone thinks social media is easy. All you have to do is “post a few times on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, and the traffic will pour in. In reality, it’s not easy. And like with anything else, you need to spend some time learning how to do it properly.” –Source  Again, this is sounding an awful lot like the 10,000 Hour Rule.

The problem is that “social media is a digital marketing strategy that’s still in its awkward adolescence. Even though social media is a fixture of everyday life, we can’t forget that it’s unpredictable, erratic, and frustratingly touchy-feely.” –Neil Patel

If you hire a Marketing Director that is not familiar with these facets of social media, you will be drastically behind the curve. Even if you manage to hire someone who possesses the skills needed, they might not be adept at gathering the data to create a successful social media plan.

By outsourcing the Marketing Director, entrepreneurs can save anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent. “It’s an easy pitch when you can tell a business with $15 million to $20 million in revenue that instead of hiring a CMO for $150,000 a year plus benefits, they can pay about half that by outsourcing the position,” Atwood says. –Source

A company called Chief Outsiders has successfully launched a business that allows clients to hire a part-time Chief Marketing Officer at a fraction of the cost of hiring one full-time.

But not all savings will be equal for every business; the cost can be drastically different from one to the next.

There are free online calculators to help entrepreneurs figure out how much they could save by outsourcing.

For example, a calculator offered by Business Network Consulting, a Denver-based IT consulting firm, shows how much a company with 10 employees and a modest amount of IT help could save in contrast to a business that may have 100 employees and that needs a great deal of IT help.

Erik Huberman, a Marketing professional, says that “when launching a business, it’s critical to do what you are good at; sticking with your core competency is an absolute must. If you’re great at creating a product, then focus on that and let experts in their respective fields come in and execute other business functions.” –Source

Huberman went on to give a list of some of the additional benefits to outsourcing your marketing:

Cost: At much less than the cost of one full-time executive, you get an entire team of experts, and can expect cheaper ad costs and software costs, among other benefits.

Access: With the right firm, you still get complete access to all of your data and learnings — no hidden fees/total transparency.

Time: You save on all the time it takes to find someone — or trying to learn the entire Internet marketing field yourself.

Experience: Your team will benefit from the experience the marketing team brings to the table, such as familiarity with your target market and the many marketing channels and opportunities available.


Ultimately, you have to make the best decision for your company. Be informed. Be smart. Evaluate the talent you have at your disposal and then evaluate the marketing and branding firms in your area.

Can you outsource your branding and marketing needs to professionals who have proven themselves with an award-winning track record? If so, go that route and ensure the continued success of your company.

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