Do I need a senior marketer in my team, (and what do they actually do)?

  • Resourcing and HR
  • February 9, 2024

Now this may seem a bit odd coming from a marketing company, but not every business needs a dedicated fulltime marketing resource.

Especially in B2B where sales are generally driven by a few key people, often, in fact,
the owner. At some point in time, however, you’ll reach a stage where the growth of the business gets stuck.

At this point, most SMEs understandably fall back on what they know: more sales! Maybe you just vow to double your efforts, maybe you hire another salesperson.

And it doesn’t work. For three reasons:

  • You’re building on sand; you haven’t got your brand, your message or your position right.
  • You’ve failed to recognise that most B2B buyers do most of their buying before the ever talk to a salesperson. (We explain this further here).
  • Your sales have taken place mostly within your network, but you’ve fully tapped that out now and you somehow need to find new ways to drive growth.

This is why so many businesses fail to scale (98% never break the $5m mark).

If that’s where you are right now, is it time to hire a marketer…?

This is where most of our clients are when we start having a conversation with them, so we thought it might be useful to lay out some of the questions many SMEs have as they contemplate using a professional marketing resource.

More often than not, the first question is this…

“Could I hire a young marketer, do I need a senior marketer, or should I bring in a marketing agency instead?” 

Now, we’ve been doing this for well over 30 years on both client and agency sides, and in our experience a specialist marketing agency is only a good idea if you already have a good grasp of strategic marketing and these skills exist in your team, but simply don’t have the time or resources to execute. I know, once again this sounds a bit odd for a marketing firm to be saying but bear with us. 

The problem is, best will in the world, YOU will have to drive any external supplier.  

But be very clear that no marketing activity is likely to be successful unless it’s built on sound marketing strategy – despite a whole industry telling you they can get ‘incredible results if you just sign up to xyz’. 

“The better you are at execution, the faster you can run in any direction. A good strategy helps you run fast in the right direction”.

Certainly, an AdWords campaign (or whatever) may serve a specific purpose, but how does it co-ordinate with your other activities? Is it part of a marketing funnel that leads seamlessly via content program to an enquiry form on your website? Are your salespeople briefed to build on those messages in their direct prospect discussions? And do you know how to review the data generated and assess the results. If you don’t, there’s every change you could have the wool pulled over your eyes, the performance will suffer and the care factor from your supplier is probably going to reduce over time too.  

Spending on ad-hoc marketing activities in the absence of good strategy is the most common error we see in SMEs that have a go. It just doesn’t work. 

Another limitation of an external agency is they’ll be following your brief. They won’t proactively spot (or even look for) opportunities for your business and explore various options to take advantage of them like an internal marketer should. And that can get really limiting. For example, you tell an agency “we need to grow and we want more leads”. They’ll put a lead generation campaign together and yes, you might end up with the Adwords example above. But they won’t ask “which part of the business can growth best come from?” Sure, it could be new leads, but it could be fixing a retention issue, it could be developing a new service extension, going into a new market or extracting more yield from current customers.

So, if knowledgeable marketing direction from the inside is the most important ingredient for success, what are your options? 

The obvious one, of course, is to hire a marketer.  The main advantages here are what we call Inside Strength and it stems from two sources: accountability – the care factor simply has to be there – and the level of knowledge they build up. They’ll soak up the culture of the business, see how things are done firsthand. You’ll celebrate success and commiserate losses together, and all of that helps them become an embedded part of your organisation, with greater insight into what works, and what doesn’t when trying to attract, land and retain profitable new clients. 

The internal hire option raises two related questions: 

  • Is there really enough work to justify it? 
  • What level of seniority do you need and how much do you need to spend? 

Junior to mid-weight marketers are a dime-a-dozen and cost around $80 to $100k. Yes, they will be able to handle basic digital implementation, manage a few tactical operations, though you’ll have to closely manage and drive them. However, the main limitation is they’re not going to have the experience to identify your business opportunities, develop and articulate the marketing strategy and write the plan from scratch. They should be able to execute a plan that’s handed to them (with supervision), but they can’t meaningfully advise – which is what you really need at this critical stage of your business.  

That leads you to the option of a senior strategic marketer. Sadly, you’re going to choke on your Wheaties when we tell you you’re looking at $155k plus. ( Plus, you simply don’t have enough of this level of work to justify a hire. 

This might be the time to let you know we’ve developed the solution to this conundrum, so don’t be discouraged. (Too impatient to read on? Click here) 

But before getting there, let’s look at … 

What does a senior marketer actually do? 

This is someone with the experience, wisdom and knowledge to look at your business from an objective strategic perspective, work with you on your overall goals, and figure out how to most effectively take your business to a clearly defined and understood market in a way that differentiates you, cuts through the noise, and helps create deeper relationships with your clients and find then appeals to prospective buyers.  

This person will build all of this into a comprehensive plan, implement ‘test and learn’ approach to data, and put in place efficient and budget-responsive execution programs.  

Simple right?!  Let’s expand: 

1. Develop a Marketing Strategy and Plan 

If you don’t have a strategy in place already, this will be the first step for any senior marketer you hire. They’ll examine your business in relation to your products, competitors, customers and the overall market, and help develop a unique positioning for your business that differentiates from all the rest. 

They’ll identify opportunities to drive growth from your current clients, look at market opportunities and then connect you with the best type of prospects, and work on a plan to attract, convert and retain them as ongoing clients.  They’ll put in place all the data, management, and admin systems to support the program. A typical plan will cover the following: 

It’s no small task all of this, considering they’ll have to combine elements of market research, raw data analysis and the psychology of your target customers while adding a touch of creative magic to the process, and managing all the relevant stakeholders at the same time. 

2. Set the Brand Tone, Personality, Look and Ongoing Creative Direction

Next, if required, they’ll work with a designer or branding agency to express that positioning in the brandmark, and then roll it out across all the relevant touch points such as your website, business cards, social media platforms, vehicles, whatever is relevant to your business. 

Throughout all of this they’ll start to build a story around your brand, one that engages and draws in the reader with a powerful value proposition, explaining very clearly why your business should be chosen as a preferred supplier. 

They’ll also develop a way to communicate the new brand and value proposition to all your employees, ensuring everyone’s on the same page and the client experience is seamless, and consistent. 

3. Manage Tactical and Promotional Activities

These are the actual marketing activities that should emerge from your marketing strategy process and include a wide range of activities such as new business campaigns, client engagement campaigns, promotional offers, prospect nurture and retention programs – possibly automated – and the ongoing development of your messaging into valuable content to be shared across all your chosen media and social channels. They might include events, news emails, whitepapers, eBook, infographic, podcast – it all has to be produced, distributed and monitored. This is what most people think of as ‘marketing’ and it’s where a lower-cost, junior marketer playing a support role to help with the myriad of activities might well be a good investment.

4. Support the Sales Team

This is particularly relevant for B2B sales, where your senior marketer should work hand in hand with your salespeople. Helping them open up new markets, widen their sales funnel, refining the message and improving the customer journey so your conversion rates increase. A collaborative approach always leads to the best result so ensure your sales team are open and primed to work hand-in-glove with marketing.

5. Manage Project Execution and Suppliers

Working with designers, copywriters, video producers or any other creative suppliers to consistently produce on-brand, effective pieces of communication are an essential part of
the role, and although good senior marketers make this look effortless, it’s far from it. 

Briefing a project in properly, getting the most out of your suppliers, managing budgets and ensuring everything is completed to schedule and the right specifications is a skill on its own, and a key part of any senior marketer’s job.

6. Analyse and Act Upon Relevant Data 

Another important part is to establish feedback loops that keep you informed of all the relevant data points, to monitor the effectiveness of your marketing. As much of the world is digital it’s not too difficult to monitor what’s going on, in fact the main problem is knowing what data to focus on. A senior marketer will be able to figure this all out and act accordingly. 

7. Perform Executive Management Functions

Finally, a senior marketer will perform all the same functions you’d expect from any other members of your executive team. They’ll manage budgets, report effectively to the team and manage all the stakeholders accordingly, bringing everyone along for the ride as they implement the strategy, and plans to supercharge growth of your business.

By now, you can probably see why a junior resource isn’t going to be the right choice. 

The catch, of course, is that in order to secure the services of someone who can do all of that, and do it well, you have to pay well too, with the latest indication being that a senior marketer earns approximately $155K these days. 

The Inside Out Solution  

If that all sounds like a lot, here’s the good news.  

About five years ago we changed our entire business to help SMEs like yours access the senior marketing talent they need to make a big difference, without the big salary that goes along with it. 

The key to it all is placing a senior marketer inside your business, so they develop the deep understanding of your business with full accountability, but only having them there part-time to make the cost achievable. These ‘fractional senior marketers’ work with us, and you, to develop the strategy right at the beginning, and then they’ll work inside your business to keep it on track, and bring it to fruition. 

Back at our HQ, our management team continues to support them from the outside as and when required, but after the initial marketing strategy component has been completed, the senior marketer is all yours, working a day or two a week as part of your team to drive it all along, placing minimal demands on your time and focus. 

It’s a model that’s been highly successful for many of our clients over the years, and if you’d like to learn more about what goes into the Strategic Blueprint for your business and how a fractional marketer could be just what you’re looking for, please get in touch here.  

Because not doing any marketing just isn’t an option, and doing it badly wastes your time, and your money too.  

Click here to read some client case studies and here to see examples of our work, and for more details on our process, click here 

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