Marketing Consultant and Founder of Firejuice, Bernard Jansen, explains why small to medium business doesn’t need an external marketing company.
I mentioned to the owner of a medium-sized company recently that he should consider bringing his marketing function in-house and he almost fainted. He never thought that he doesn’t need a marketing agency to do it all for him.
Now, let me say this upfront: you will always need outside experts to help you with your marketing, but mostly, you should be able to do it yourself. Research conducted by Firejuice amongst entrepreneurs, shows that only 24% of businesses do marketing internally while the other 76% don’t employ a marketing person for the business.
There are several benefits to internalising marketing. Firstly, is the fact that you take ownership – real ownership – of how you spend your marketing money and what effect it has. There’s no more blaming the agency. The ball is now in your court, and you need to make it work.
Secondly, is the fact that there are far fewer secrets. You know what you are doing, and you can see the results or lack thereof, directly. I am amazed at the number of businesses who do not have access to their website data because the agency holds on to it for dear life, or never track their social media engagement because an outsider takes care of it.
But the most important reason one should (strongly consider) doing your marketing, is because marketing is a business function and it should sit inside the business for this very reason. You manage your finances, your procurement, your sales – and so you should manage your (own) marketing too. This way, marketing can be a truly integrated business function.
So, the real question is, who should be the head of marketing? It is relatively easy to assemble a team of internal and external partners to “do” the marketing, but the real challenge comes with providing leadership, and crucially, decisive decision making. In my view, most companies don’t need a separate, senior marketer. In all but a handful of cases, the role is that of the CEO / MD / owner of the business. Simple as that.
Marketing, at its core, is a strategic function and should be guided by no one other than the CEO. Think about it: choosing target markets, deciding how to position against competitors and selecting appropriate messaging is something that the most important person in the business should actively be involved.
Strategic marketing is, indeed, the role of the boss.
Despite this, very few business owners have studied marketing. They don’t know the theory behind customer segmentation, target marketing, brand positioning and marketing messaging. Too often they think that “being the boss” means “being the boss” instead of “doing the marketing”. It is for this reason that I believe there is a vital role for strategic marketing consultants to assist company executives over a short period to align the marketing function to the business strategy and then leave them to manage it themselves.
Very few businesses need a separate senior marketer as a permanent employee.
I used to shy away from saying I am a Marketing Consultant because it sounded like I am that person building your website on managing your social media, but this is not my role. I am the person helping the head of the company think through the positioning of the business strategically and then ensuring it gets communicated effectively through third parties.
Marketing consulting should start as a business discussion on the company vision and growth ambitions and then filter down into marketing strategy, communication tactics and eventually sales execution. Come to think of it; marketing consulting is nothing other than business consulting.
As a business owner, you should stop daydreaming about employing a senior marketer in your business. You are that person. The real trick is to know that marketing, like any other field of business, has decades of history behind it and sometimes it helps to rope in outside help for a limited time to get things on-track.
You don’t need a Marketing Director. Just a Marketing Consultant.
Bernard Jansen is a Marketing Consultant and Founder of Firejuice, a boutique consulting company focused on helping entrepreneurs implement no-nonsense marketing strategies that drive business results.