Many businesses struggle to grow because they are faced with a multitude of decisions and often find it easier to maintain the status quo.
A common challenge is not having enough resources to invest in new business without having scalable operations in place. However, to support these operations, more customers are needed, leading to strategy inertia...
Small and medium-sized businesses with a limited annual budget require advice on how to maximise their return on investment and scale and standardise their new business function.
Here's a typical scenario:
Let's say you have a small budget of around £30-40K.
You don't currently have an internal marketing function
You're a high-touch sales-led organisation.
You're unclear how to consistently drive high-quality inbound leads.
There's huge market potential that you feel you're missing out on, but previous marketing attempts have not resulted in a visible return on investment.
The three most common options are to hire a graduate, a freelancer/part-time employee, or outsource to an agency.
Here we've discussed the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options to help you to make a better decision.
Option 1: Equip a fantastic marketing graduate to learn on the job.
- It's a full-time, educated employee who is solely focussed on growing your business.
- Ideal if you're in an established category and you're planning to implement a market follower strategy.
- As they are at the beginning of their career, they will usually expect a lower salary.
- After paying pensions, salary, and quite possibly a large headhunting fee, you probably wouldn't have much spare change to invest in their CPD.
- It will probably take them a year to learn your business and start generating real results.
- 55% of graduates quit their job before even completing a year.
- You should expect gaps in their skillset, e.g. you wouldn't expect one marketer to be able to plan, write, design, and animate, so you may need to still use an agency / use freelancers.
Option 2: Recruit a great freelancer / part-time employee
- You can have an experienced specialist working on your account between 1-2 days a week.
- The freelancer would need to be a specialist in your area and with companies of your size.
- Freelancers are usually a great choice when your business already knows what drives growth e.g. if you know long-form content on LinkedIn drives leads and sales for your business, you can then hire a LinkedIn long-form content specialist with expertise in your sector.
- If you don't yet have a defined and clear strategy, you might get a freelancer with the wrong skillset.
- Most freelancers won't be able to run an end-to-end campaign without support from a wider team.
Option 3: Partner with an agency, such as elcap
- Get expert developers, strategists, UX designer, animator, demand generation marketers, paid media specialist, social media, content team, and HubSpot experts to test, learn and formalise the best growth strategy for your business.
- You specialists are usually able to share insights and ideas from the other accounts they are working with.
- A good agency will have robust processes in place to deliver tangible results.
- An agency will support your business as you grow and can help your hiring process should you need an internal employee.
- As with any employee or freelancer, you need to share plans and information with the agency.
- You will usually have about 1 - 2 days a week dedicated to your account. This is less time than a full-time graduate.
At elcap, we offer full-service retainers that we tailor based on what you need. If your website needs some SEO work, we'll focus on that. If we notice quality leads from LinkedIn ads, we'll dial down on that as a channel. If you're using HubSpot, we might spend time implementing workflows. Or if you need some additional security updates on your website, we'll make sure all the patching is complete.
Every month, we plan out how your retainer hours are spent. We then work to deliver your business goals.
For more information about our marketing retainer services, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emily is Head of Digital Marketing at elcap. She manages SEO, adwords, social media and content for many of our clients.