Should You Hire a Marketer for Your Small Business?

Should You Hire a Marketer For Your Small Business

So, you’ve hit that point where you are just done doing all the things. Every business owner knows the challenge of wearing more hats than you can manage, and you’re doing a pretty decent job of keeping all the things together, but you’re also not a superhero. 

But, have you hit a point where it’s profitable and beneficial to hire marketing help for your small business? 

Let’s walk through uncovering the answer to that together. 

Jump To: 

But first, recognize that you’re not a superhuman

This step is the most challenging one for many people— recognizing that the right marketer can probably do a better job of marketing your business than you can. 

And that doesn’t mean that you’re not exceptional at what you do. You have years of expertise under your belt of doing what you do, maybe you have some schooling under your belt (or maybe you have a lot), and the learning curve of building a business is huge. You’re resilient, ambitious, and you have big goals to achieve.  

But when it comes to marketing your business, you can’t do it all alone. You can absolutely get started and get the ball rolling, but there are so many unique facets of marketing, and all of them require a different approach, technical know-how, and expertise to get the job done well. 

And that doesn’t make you a bad business owner. You have expertise in something else and you’re building a business around that. Not around marketing. You don’t need to be an expert marketer! 

But that doesn’t mean that you need to hire someone from day 1. If you have the resourcing to support that, then great! But, most small businesses owners start small and DIY things in the beginning, until it’s profitable to hire support.

So when is the right time to pull the trigger and hire a marketer? 

Well in short— it depends. But there are three key triggers you can look at when you’re figuring this out for your business. 

Trigger 1: When you’re throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks

When you own a small business, every dollar invested in your business needs to count. That generally gets a pretty universal “yes, that makes sense”. But the thing people can sometimes forget is that your time as a business owner is also valuable, and every hour you spend on your business also needs to count. 

Every hour invested in posting on social media, writing email newsletters, figuring out what the heck SEO is and how you should use that knowledge to grow your business, etc, is an hour that you could spend doing something revenue-generating. 

If you know that the things you’re doing are working (and by “know” I mean that you have data tracking in place and are analyzing your ROI regularly), and you already have a steady stream of leads or sales at the level you need to continue to grow your business and reach your goals— then you’ve probably got this covered and can skip down to the next point. 

But if you’re not sure if the things you are doing are working, you’re not hitting your targets, or you’re unsure of what you should or shouldn’t be doing to grow your business, you may want to consider pulling that trigger and hiring someone who can support your business with data-driven strategy development

Trigger 2: When your priorities require skills and expertise beyond what you currently have

Okay so let’s say you have a killer marketing plan in place and now you just need to execute on it. I’m not saying that you can’t go ahead and set up your own Google search ads, write your own welcome email sequence, or DIY your website from a template. There are so many amazing resources, courses, templates, etc out there that make getting started easy. 

But, at some point, you’re either going to be spending too much time learning about how to do it well, which is taking time away from revenue-generating parts of your business so it would have been more profitable to get someone else to do it anyways.  Or you’re going to set up something that doesn’t work as well as intended because you don’t have all the knowledge and expertise that you need to make it work for you in a profitable way. 

Think of it like this, if you gave me a pile of 2x4s, drywall, some nails, and a hammer, I could probably build a pretty solid structure that would keep me dry and sheltered. But, would it stay standing for years to come? Would it withstand an earthquake or a big storm? Maybe, but also maybe not. 

Would I spend a night or two in it? Sure. Am I willing to move my life into my DIY structure? Not a chance. 

When you’re deciding if your DIY good is “good enough for now” I want you to ask yourself three questions:
  1. What is your current level of expertise on the subject?
  2. How much of a discrepancy there is between your level of expertise, and that of an expert you would hire?
  3. How critical of a marketing asset is this to your overall strategy?

If you know you have a good enough understanding of what to do and how to do it, and this is something that isn’t going to make or break your marketing strategy, you could probably DIY things. 

If this is something absolutely central to the success of your marketing, or you know that there’s a big discrepancy between what you can do and what an expert can do, you may want to consider bringing in some help. 

And, (truth bomb alert) if you’re saying “I think I have a pretty good understanding” I would err on the side of “I don’t have a good understanding” or at the very least pay an expert for an hour of their time to talk through what you know and how it applies to your project. Chances are there are things hiding in the “you don’t know what you don’t know” section below the surface, that can come back to bite you later. 

Trigger 3: When you have too many priorities, and can’t get them all done well

Again, you’re not a superhuman or a robot. There is a limit to the work that you can get done in a day. And in most areas of marketing, consistency is important to your success. 

You will hit a point where your time is better spent in other areas of your business and having people who can take things off your plate will be essential to growth. 

When you’re deciding whether you’ve hit this particular trigger point, it generally comes down to whether your time is better spent working on the business, or in the business. 

Start measuring how much time you spend on your marketing and which activities you’re spending that time on. You can use a time tracking app, or any way to start to document all that you’re doing. 

Once you have a reliable set of data, consider what else that time could have gone towards, and what the value of that would be to your business. 

Generally, that will give you a pretty good indication of whether it’s time to get some help (and it also gives you some insight into who you need to hire, which we’re going to get into below!)

So you know you need help, but which type of help? 

If you’ve done any research, you might have come across content talking about hiring a marketing agency, versus hiring a marketing coordinator or intern, or perhaps talking about hiring a manager or consultant. There are many options out there for you to choose from. 

But how do you know which option is right for your business? Well, it comes down to a better understanding of what supports your business needs. 

I’m going to walk you through these three deciding factors: 

  1. Do you need a strategy developed? 
  2. What level of expertise do you need? 
  3. What type of relationship do you want with your marketer

And we’re going to size them up against following types of marketers:

  • Junior Marketer (eg. marketing intern, VA, or coordinator)
  • Marketing Specialist (eg. social media specialist, paid ads specialist, copywriter)

  • Senior Marketer (eg. marketing manager, marketing consultant, marketing strategist)
  • Marketing Agency (eg. SEO agency, social media agency, full-service marketing agency)

We’ll dig into the details in a sec, but first— here’s a quick run-down


Deciding Factor 1: Do you need a marketing strategy developed?

Your first priority should always be to start from a strategy. If you jump into execution without a strategy you run the risk of wasting money on things that aren’t actually going to help your bottom line. 

The first thing your marketer should do is to evaluate what you’re currently doing based on the data they have available, and put together an outline of each stage of the customer journey and where there are roadblocks or drop-offs. 

What that means, is you need to have someone look at your data, and say “So what you’re doing on Instagram and Facebook is great, but they get to your website and no one purchases. For us to improve your ROI, we need to work on improving the content on your website.” 

This way, you can prioritize your marketing efforts towards what will yield the most results so you’re not wasting time, energy, and money on things that have a lower payoff. 

Let’s break this down some more. 

What You Risk If You Skip The Strategy

A trap I have seen many business owners fall into is that they don’t look at the whole picture and they just pick a way to invest in their business based on what they heard worked for other people, or based on what they think is how things are. 

Ultimately, they end up investing in something that sometimes works, but also sometimes doesn’t. And it rarely is the thing that will have the highest ROI on their business. 

Let’s walk through an example here. In this person’s business, they get most of their clients from referrals, but they also have a few other marketing channels in play and they notice that when they post more on Instagram they get more sales. So they decide to hire someone to help with their Instagram. Reasonable logic right? 

And assuming they hire someone good, they’ll probably reach more people, and likely even get more sales! But what they didn’t realize (because they didn’t look into the larger strategy) was that their website has a pretty terrible conversion rate, and 90% of their website traffic drops off immediately. 

So yes, they reach more people and get more sales, but the ROI is going to be limited. 

Let’s do some quick math!

Scenario 1: No Marketer

Without any support, they reach 500 people a month on Instagram. And that results in 50 people clicking the link in bio to their website (10% click-through rate). Their website converts at 2%, meaning that one person purchases. 

After 1 Year…
  • Total Spend: $0
  • Total Sales: 12
Scenario 2: No Strategy

Let’s run through what it would look like if they hire someone to support their Instagram without developing the strategy first. In this example, let’s assume they are paying the social media specialist $800 a month. Since they are posting more frequently, they are now are reaching 1000 people a month on Instagram. And let’s assume that since the content is also better, they now have a 20% click-through rate meaning that 200 people visit the website. But the website still converts at 2%, meaning that they now have 4 sales. 

After 1 Year…
  • Total Spend: $9600
  • Total Sales: 48

Scenario 3: Strategy Developed

Last, let’s run through if they instead hired a senior marketer to do a strategy first. Let’s say they do the audit & basic strategy ($2500) which identifies the website as the issue, and then they hire someone to help optimize the key pages on the website ($3000). They still only reach 500 people a month on Instagram and have the same 10% click-through rate resulting in 50 people on the website. But instead, the website converts at 10% meaning that they get 5 sales a month. 

After 1 Year…
  • Total Spend: $5500
  • Total Sales: 60

That’s a 25% improvement in sales, for 43% less cost. 

I should also note that in this case, if you also had other channels feeding people to your website, this conversion rate improvement will mean you’ll get more sales out of those channels as well. Whereas investment in Instagram, only benefits that one channel. 

Of course, this is just an example using a lot of assumptions and rough numbers and will look different for your business. And unfortunately, there’s no guaranteed or expected ROI from a marketing strategy. 

But, when you start with a data-driven strategy, you are investing in knowing that any time or resources you continue to put into marketing your business, are going to be prioritized in the most in-need areas. 

With a strategy, you’ll be able to make much more informed decisions, and therefore waste less money, time, and resources. 

Marketers that can develop data-driven marketing strategies: 
  • Senior Marketers
  • Marketing Agencies

I do not recommend hiring junior marketers or marketing specialists to develop marketing strategies for your business. Junior marketers don’t often have the experience necessary, and specialists can look critically at their areas of expertise, but don’t always see the full marketing landscape. 

Psst… If this got your gears turning and you want to look at hiring a senior marketer to develop a strategy for your business, this is our specialty! Check out our Marketing Strategy Services to get all the details! 

Deciding Factor 2: What level of expertise do you need?

Once your strategy is set, you should know exactly what you need to set up and have some clear targets and metrics you’re aiming to achieve. And hopefully, you also have an idea of what type of skills and expertise are needed. 

You (or you and your strategist) should look at your targets, your industry, and consider your existing team’s level of competency in what needs to be done. Then, decide whether you need someone with strong expertise, or whether you can support a junior marker.  

Truth bomb: you get what you pay for. 

Marketers that can come in and take the reins: 

If you want someone to come in, take the reins, and make serious improvements with limited guidance and training, you need someone that has more than 1-2 years of experience AND who has a portfolio of projects showing they can create results. 

These include:
  • Marketing Specialists
  • Senior Marketers
  • Marketing Agencies
Marketers that can come in and support your team, but only when provided with guidance and mentorship: 

If you have enough expertise on your team to train and mentor the new staff, AND you have the capacity to support them, then you could probably get by with a junior marketer. 

In many cases, hiring a junior marketer, student, or intern is a great idea, and can be a more affordable option for small businesses, but it is essential that you have the proper support in place to set them up for success. 

If you don’t have the expertise on your team to train and support junior staff, then you want to hire someone who already has that expertise. It’s better to spend a bit more $$ on something that will actually bring you closer towards your goals than to waste $ on something that is going to keep you in the same place. 

Deciding Factor 3: What type of relationship do you want with your marketer?

There tend to be two general categories of marketing relationships: 

  • Marketers that essentially join your team and work within your business systems
  • Marketers that support your team with their own systems
Marketers that can join your team and work within your business systems

If it’s important to you that you’re highly involved in the process and that there is a strong alignment between your company values, processes, messaging, etc— you probably want to make sure that whoever you hire works within your systems. 

These include:
  • Junior Marketers
  • Marketing Specialists (when hired as employees or when contractor relationship is set as such)
  • Senior Marketers (when hired as employees or consultants) 
Marketers that can work independently from your businesses 

If you’d rather take a hands-off approach and let them do their magic with just approvals & periodic check-ins— you probably want to lean towards someone who has their own systems. 

These include:
  • Marketing Agencies
  • Marketing Specialists (when hired as contractors who have their own independent processes and systems)

Let’s dig deeper into your different types of marketing support

Jump to information about hiring… 

  1. A junior marketer
  2. A marketing specialist
  3. A senior marketer
  4. A marketing agency

Important things to know before hiring a junior marketer

If you hire a marketing intern, VA, coordinator, etc— this typically means that you’re hiring someone with 1-3 years of experience and that they’re still learning the tools of the trade. But, they also tend to be ambitious, open-minded, and excited to sink their teeth into anything and everything you give them. 

They are great for supporting an existing strategy and filling specific roles related to their expertise and areas of interest. They will need regular training, mentorship, and support to have the greatest impact on your business. 

In Canada, you should expect to pay a junior marketer somewhere between $18/hr and $25/hr depending on how much experience they have. 

Example Marketing Intern or Marketing VA Roles: 

  • Social Media Intern
  • Junior Copywriter
  • Marketing Design Assistant
  • Marketing Coordinator
  • Marketing Intern

Important things to know before hiring a marketing specialist

If you want to hire a marketing specialist (social media specialist, paid ads specialist, copywriter, etc), you want to hire someone who has at least three years of experience in that area of marketing. You should always ask any specialist you are considering working with if they have case studies or portfolio projects showcasing their work and the results of their work.

 Marketing specialists are great for moving an aspect of your marketing forward. Perhaps you know from your strategy that social media is a priority, or that you need some well-written and conversion-optimized website content— whatever you need, there are people out there that are experts in making that happen. 

There is a wide variety of expertise levels in specialists. You can find someone newer that has 3 years experience, or find a seasoned expert with decades of projects under their belt. The important thing is to find the right fit for your needs and to find someone you work well with. 

In Canada, expect to pay a marketing specialist anywhere from $30/hr to $100/hr. In specific niches where there’s added expertise involved (eg. a conversion copywriter who specializes in the legal industry), you may even see higher rates. 

Many specialists also have set retainer or project packages with set fees instead of charging hourly. Your best bet is to reach out to 3-5 people and weigh out their expertise level, rates, and how well you think they’d fit working with you. 

Example Marketing Specialist Roles: 

  • Social Media Strategist
  • Content Writer
  • SEO Copywriter
  • Graphic Designer
  • Paid Ads Specialist
  • SEO Specialist

Important things to know before hiring a senior marketer

The most important thing to find in a senior marketer is someone who can set strategy across all of the channels you operate in. Instead of just understanding one silo (ie social media), they need to have high-level expertise across all of your major channels (eg. social media, SEO, blogging, paid ads, PR). 

That doesn’t mean that they need to be experts in everything (that’s not possible), but they need to understand how each of the different channels works together towards your business goals. 

Any senior marketer that you hire should have tangible examples of how they’ve improved the bottom-line of a business, improved marketing ROI, or supported the company to reach its goals. 

If you’re needing them to manage internal staff or contractors, make sure they have experience doing that and ask for references from people they’ve worked with. 

If you’re hiring a full time Marketing Manager for your business in Canada, you should expect to pay a salary of $50-70K depending on their level of expertise. 

If you’re hiring a contract Marketing Consultant or Strategist for your Canadian business, expect to pay a monthly retainer of $1500-3000 depending on how much support you need. Some may also bill by set project rates or hourly rates. 

Example Senior Marketer Roles: 

  • Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Consultant
  • Marketing Strategist
  • Marketing Director
  • CMO

Important things to know before hiring a marketing agency

Similar to finding the right senior marketer, you want to find an agency that has experience (and projects to back them up) for all of your major marketing channels. If you need a strategy that encompasses your website, social media, and email marketing— opt for a full-service agency. 

The benefit of working with an agency is that they generally have a comprehensive team with experts and specialists in many different areas of marketing. However, you generally have to work within their process and systems, so you’ll want to make sure you fully understand what the process looks like, how much is expected from you, how much oversight and involvement you get, and who all will be working on your account. 

I also recommend asking for some case studies or portfolio projects related to what they’d be doing for you so you can better understand the results you can expect, and how long the process takes. 

Note that many marketing agencies operate on monthly retainers, and it’s the expectation that you’re working with them for years to come. Some do offer projects when it comes to things like web design or branding, but for your ongoing marketing if you choose an agency service you probably want to budget for that agency to be involved for the long term. 

If you’re hiring a full-service agency in Canada, expect to spend at least $2500 monthly. The more expertise you need and the more channels you need to support, your fee will go up and I’ve seen businesses spending upwards of $5K a month. 

Example Agencies You Could Hire:

  • Full-service marketing agency
  • SEO & content marketing agency
  • Social media marketing agency
  • PR agency

Have questions? Let’s figure it out together. 

Figuring out who to hire, when to hire, where to hire your marketing person, or how much it costs to hire, etc— can be confusing and overwhelming, but you don’t have to go it alone. We specialize in helping small businesses sort through their tangled web of marketing, and find clarity and confidence in their next steps. 

Book a consultation today, and let’s start a conversation. Even if we’re not the right fit to support you beyond that conversation, we can set you up with some clarification on what would be a better fit and some education on what to look for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Akari Digital logo

We help small business owners turn their messy marketing into scalable systems that work for them now and as they grow.

© Akari Digital Inc. 2021 | All Rights Reserved

We operate on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Stó:lō and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nations.