If your small business has reached the point where you are deciding between adding an in-house marketing person (or team) and hiring an outside marketing consultant or agency, congratulations, you are on the path to successful growth. There is no arguing about the need for a well-conceived, well-executed, marketing strategy. But, there are many opinions as to how to effectively, and cost-effectively, get it done.

A recent Bank of America Small Business Community post discussed the pros and cons of creating an in-house marketing department vs. outsourcing marketing tasks to third parties. The post highlights common concerns such as whether an internal team will have sufficient objectivity, and whether an outside service provider will have sufficient dedication to your business. It also provides commentary from small business owners who have chosen different paths.

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The decision you make for your own small business will be unique to your set of challenges and opportunities. It will also likely change over time as you dip your toe into different aspects of small business marketing such as search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media, public relations, graphic design, print advertising, and video production.

Leaning towards going it alone? Read these two posts from small business owners who have done just that:

  • My Adwords Debacle and Why I Manage My Own Adwords Campaigns: The first five posts in this series from the New York Times You’re The Boss blog chronicles a small business owner’s struggle with a flailing Google Adwords campaign and how he solved the problems. The sixth post is a discussion of why he continues to manage his own PPC marketing campaigns, even in light of the problems he disclosed, instead of hiring an outside firm.
  • 5 Reasons to Build an In-House Creative Team: This Inc. 5000 post from a small business owner details her reasons for building an internal creative marketing team for her “fast-moving, fast-growing tech company” instead of outsourcing to an agency or consultant.

Considering outsourcing? These resources will help you pick the right consultant or agency:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Hiring an Inbound Agency: This whitepaper from HubSpot, an inbound marketing software provider, provides 11 key things to consider when hiring a marketing agency. Each section provides an overview of why a certain attribute or attitude is important along with key questions you can ask during the screening process to determine if the agency you are considering possesses that attribute in a way that will work well for your business. Interestingly, one of the recommendations is that an outside agency be both eager and willing to not only involve your internal staff in their processes, but also to train your team in all aspects of the services the agency provides.
  • How to Choose the Right Freelance Consultants: This Intuit Small Business Blog post provides tips for hiring marketing and creative consultants, such as how to independently find and contact references, how to create a test project, and how to ask the right interview questions.
  • 8 Things Great Consultants Say: This Inc. post provides listening tips that will help you determine whether the consultant you are interviewing is truly more interested in helping your company succeed than in simply cashing your checks.

Whether you choose to build an internal team, outsource, or do it all yourself, remember that your initial approach need not be your last. A great marketing strategy will evolve with your business, and as a small business owner, knowing when to make a change is as important as taking the right first steps.

This Small Business Tip from PaySimple offers one more way to promote and fuel your business.

Lisa Hephner

Lisa Hephner

My name is Lisa, and I'm the Vice President of Knowledge, responsible for the management of corporate, product, competitor, marketplace, legal, and regulatory knowledge, and creation and dissemination of knowledge tools using these assets to PaySimple prospects, customers, employees, and partners.

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