When is the best time to hire an in-house marketer?

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As a business owner you are doing a lot of the work associated with marketing yourself. Or perhaps you are outsourcing some marketing, but you are managing the marketing campaigns and projects and the people yourself. As a result you’re not getting the important work done, because you are doing work that you shouldn’t be doing.

As a business owner and leader you want to spend your time on other things. Perhaps leadership, team development, recruitment, profitability, etc. But the good thing is, you know how important marketing is for the growth of your business.

Or perhaps you can’t seem to get any marketing done and you feel stuck? Either way, something has to change. A decision will have to be made to hire an In-House Marketer.

In this episode I cover:

  • When is it the right time to hire an In-House Marketer?
  • What should we be considering as part of the decision making?
  • What kind of skills should I be looking for for an In-House Marketer?
  • What is the role of an In-House Marketer?
  • What kind of leadership does an In-House Marketer need?
  • Where does an In-House Marketer fit into the organisation?



Additional Resources:


Many people try to do all the marketing themselves and never get round to making the decision to hire an in-house marketing role.

So, as a business owner you might be:

Doing a lot of the work associated with marketing yourself. Perhaps you are outsourcing stuff, but you are managing the marketing campaigns and projects and the people.

As a result, you’re not getting the things done that you want to get done
because you are doing work that you shouldn’t be doing. You want to focus on other things. Perhaps leadership, team development, recruitment, profitability, etc, but you know how important marketing is for the growth of your business.

Or maybe you are doing nothing, and you feel stuck? Either way, something has to change. A decision will have to be made to hire an in-house marketer.

A few things to consider:

  • When is it the right time to hire an in-house marketer?
  • What should we be considering as part of the decision making?
  • What kind of skills should I be looking for for an in-house marketer?

First, we have a decision to make…

One thing that we struggle with generally speaking is decision making – no one ever taught us how to make good decisions and often times we simply sit on the fence and never make a decision about anything, which ultimately holds us back from growing our business.

One major factor that will help you to make the decision to hire someone in an in-house marketing role is understanding just how important marketing is, and how marketing impacts the sales process. If you can see a direct ROI on the marketing role, then this should help you to justify the decision.

I’m not going to get into the importance of marketing because I’ve covered this at length on other episodes of the podcast – I’ll pop some links into the show notes for you so you can follow up if you’re new to the show or if you’d like to revisit.

As a business owner I want you to consider these questions seriously. They will help you to decide to hire someone in an in-house role…

If you are currently trying to do the marketing yourself think about:

  • What is the true value of your time? Not your hourly rate, but how much your time is worth. Is it worth more than what you’d pay in costs for an in-house marketer. I hope so!
  • What jobs do you find yourself doing? What are you doing that you shouldn’t be doing?
  • What marketing tasks are you doing that are below your pay grade? And because you are doing those things, what’s not getting done as a result.
  • What other important work is not getting done that needs your time and attention?
  • What kind of impact would hiring have on your business?
  • What kind of impact would hiring have on your personal life? Let’s not forget that because you are doing all this extra work, it’s taking you away from family, hobbies, personal development, volunteering.

If you aren’t doing any marketing, but you know you need to…

  • What’s not getting done that absolutely needs to get done?
  • What’s the impact on your business if it does get done?
  • What if you decide not to hire…do you just want your business to carry on the way it is?
  • How fed up are you with this situation?
  • How important is it to you to grow your business?

Have a think about these questions. Start to build a case for yourself so you can make an effective decision to either hire, or perhaps not. Maybe there’s another option for you.

Of course, the options for help are:

  • In-house role
  • Spread it over your team – but someone needs to own marketing in the business
  • Outsource to specialists – but who will manage them?
  • Consultant – again, who’s going to do the work?
  • Agency – again, who will manage the agency?

I’m going to lean heavily on the in-house role here, and I believe that depending on the size of your organisation, and the size of your marketing team, that you will probably need to have an in-house role, even if you do decide to outsource for specialist assistance, hire an agency or an consultant.

This brings me nicely to a discussion about the skills we should be looking for for an in-house marketing role.

Firstly, you will never find someone that can do absolutely everything. If you are looking for a single person that has the following skills:

  • Website development
  • Graphic design
  • Photography and videography
  • Photo editing
  • Video production
  • Google Adwords
  • Facebook ads
  • Social media management
  • Leadership and management
  • Project management and organisational skills

You’ll be looking forever for this mythical person.

Yes, an in-house marketer may have some specialist skills, but they will not be able to do everything well. In fact, there are some things that are simply ineffective for them to do and a waste of time.

What are the most important skills that you should be looking for?

  • Project management and organisational skills
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Willingness to learn (teachable)
  • Open to change

Specialist skills might be needed in the context of your business, but they should be complimentary to these other more important skills. That context might be relevant industry experience, or perhaps you are going to be going all in on video, and therefore you do want someone that’s worked with video marketing campaigns.

Generally speaking, an in-house marketer should be able to use a CMS, write well, publish content and generally speaking be able to navigate technology.

You will need the project management and organisational skills because this is important for making sure things get done on time, with the right people. Think of your marketing campaigns as projects. Who will manage these campaigns?

I don’t want to give you the bad news, but I feel like someone has to – your in-house marketing role will have to outsource to specialists and they will need a budget for it.

Examples might be things like:

  • Graphic design
  • Website development and support
  • Video production and editing

These are some of the most common tasks that in-house marketers get themselves tied up into and it wastes a lot of their valuable time.

Kathleen is a great in-house marketer, but she is trying to do everything herself and getting frustrated. A specific example is the time and energy she’s spending on web development. She is not a web developer, and she should have to be. The tasks she is trying to do are taking her hours, and would take a web guy minutes. Knowing that your website is never done, means that either Kathleen is going to have to do this forever, or get someone else to do it.

But the case for this is easy – is Kathleen’s time as an in-house marketer (money for the CEO) better spent doing actual marketing – writing content, etc – or pissing around on the website trying to do something that’s taking forever. Does Kathleen need to know website development to be a great marketer? No, in fact she shouldn’t even try.

It’s not important that she has the skills. What’s important is that she knows what needs doing, and get’s it done. There’s millions of people out there that can do this better, faster and cheaper, ultimately allowing Kathleen to buy her time back and spend it on the job that really matter to the business.

What’s the lesson – please give your in-house marketers a budget to work with and listen to them when they need resource to get their work done. Just because they are in marketing, doesn’t mean they know how to do everything. Lean on the strengths, outsource for the rest.

An in-house role is a generalist role – a solid understanding of marketing – education and/or experience – a solid understanding of the business, the products and services, the ability to plan and manage campaigns, source specialist skills and manage the people involved in the project.

Here are a few examples of business owners and how the decisions they have made:

Allan Corfield started his own architect company about 8 years ago. Based here in Scotland with a dozen or so architects now.

In 2014/15 Allan took on content marketing in a big way with the mission to become the self build expert in his industry. 3 years on he is well and truly on his way to that – 30 speaking gigs a year for his industry events and he’s on the TV! His business is scaling fast!

However, back in 2015 Allan knew that he couldn’t do the marketing himself – he just knew that to do this properly someone else was going to have to do the work. He knew that he was going to need help. So he hired an intern to try it out and develop the role, an english student called Nathan. Nathan worked out so well for Allan that he stayed on to work with Allan to develop the role further. Nathan moved on eventually to a different organisation, and Allan employed a permanent role at AC Architects – Pzemeck…who now works full time with Allan.

Allan didn’t jump into a huge salary commitment, he tested the water first and built the role up to what it is today.

Lessons: he knew immediately that if he was going to do this properly he was going to need help. He couldn’t do it on his own. and he invested in an in-house marketing role. Smart move.

Cara Mackay MD of Gillies and Mackay who I’ve talked about before on the podcast outsources to a few key specialists to help her with her marketing. She loves marketing and as the MD she currently leads it. She outsources publishing and distribution and video editing. However, in the near future she may employ an in-house role to do a lot of the work that she’s doing at the moment, and development the marketing function further within Gillies and Mackay, and still utilise and outsource for specialist skills.

Lessons: You don’t have to jump directly into a full time in-house role. You can start off by outsourcing and delegating some of the work to specialist to allow you to develop this marketing function in the business.

James Cash is the MD of an IT services company based in the UK called Superfast IT. A few years ago (might be 3 years) James hired Alex to work in the in-house marketing role, and invested in his education to skill him up. Alex went on to be recognised at CMA Live 18 as the best in-house marketer for the work that he’s done for the past few years.
James and Alex work closely together, with James leading with the direction and vision of the company and working on the strategy and planning with Alex, who implements and executes the marketing.

Lessons: Alex wasn’t just left to get on with it himself. He has leadership support to help him with direction. Jame invested in Alex’s marketing skills and continues to do so. A mistake that business owners often make it to assume that in-house marketers should just be able to get on with it, and if they need anything they should ask, or go find the solution. However, with marketing being such an important part of business, the in-house role needs to be close to leadership and be closely aligned with the strategic direction of the business.

Not only is it important that the person you hire has the willingness to learn and is teachable, but that you also play your role in their development – don’t assume they know what they need. Most people are not self-directed learners and will need you direction and support.

A few other things before we wrap up…

Often times an in-house marketing role starts off well, and the person you hire is doing the work that matters and over time the marketing role starts to include a lot of work that really isn’t marketing. What can happen is that over time the role slips into administration and marketers find themselves demoralised and 80% of the time not feeling like their work is having any positive growth impact on the business. Marketing should be a business development role in an organisation – marketers should be doing work that grows the business, attracts new customers, retains the ones we have.

Your job is to help lead and shape this marketing role. To make sure that the marketing is aligned with strategy and to make sure they have the budget, tools and skills required to do their job well.

Finally, there’s no set revenue trigger for employing an in-house role. There are multi million pound companies without marketing roles, and there are companies turning over a few hundred thousand with marketing roles.

This is a decision you have to make about what’s important for the future success of your business…so what’s it going to be?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. You can email me chris@cmauk.co.uk or tweet me at @chrismarr101. Don’t forget that I’ve popped some links to other relevant episodes into the show notes for you, including the previous episode where I talk about Debbie, who’s an in-house marketer at Eagle Leisure.

Until next time….DFTBA!


About Nicola Crawford

Marketing PA at the Content Marketing Academy.
In business, I believe in people first.
Mum to two crazy kids, Alaina and Morgan.
Green belt in Shotokan Karate.
Always learning, always growing.