Many growing businesses – and businesses that want to grow – consider the option of bringing in an in-house retail marketing resource. While there’s no universal answer for when to bring on an employee, we’ve created a few questions to guide your decision making.
First: Is there enough work to merit the internal staff investment?
While it’s tempting to have an “always on” retail marketing resource, before you add to your internal costs (calculate payroll plus benefits and overhead, although there are payroll services similar to CloudPay who might be helpful with that), make sure that your business has at least 25-30 hours of marketing needed per week. Businesses that typically have this sort of requirement include retail, online commerce, and professional services firms that rely on highly-customized proposals and RFP responses (think architecture or public projects).
Second: Are you looking for retail marketing or sales (or something else)?
If you answered “yes,” to the first question, consider the specific activities you want this position to fulfill. If you need someone to network, cold call (using, and hustle up new business, then you’re actually in the market for a salesperson.
Which leads to one of the biggest pitfalls we see: The “Sales and Marketing” Manager.
Many businesses seek to kill two birds with one stone by combining marketing strategy and sales outreach. Invariably this strategy fails; the employee gravitates to their strength and minimizes their secondary role (or worse, the employee is mediocre at both). It’s a lose-lose scenario – you are not getting an A Player in this position and the new hire is set up for failure because they will never meet your expectations of excellence in both roles.
Because it’s difficult to outsource sales, we recommend hiring this position first while relying on contractors or agencies to help with retail marketing strategy.
Third: Do you know how to evaluate your new employee?
One of the biggest challenges to hiring an internal retail marketing resource is your ability to measure their skill and effectiveness. If you’ve never had a person in this role before, it will be extremely difficult to hire the right skill set and to measure the employee’s impact over time. If you’re confident you’ve outgrown an outsourced retail marketing solution then consider hiring an HR consultant to help write the job description and interview applicants. Your investment in an expert’s time will pay huge dividends when you hire the best person for your needs.
Fourth: Do you know what type of marketing pro you need? Can you afford them?
One of the big problems with hiring a “retail marketing person” is defining what “marketing” really means. For example, “marketing” can mean: a strategist, a writer, a designer, a web programmer, an SEO expert, a PR guru, a White Link developer, and on and on and on. The more roles you try to wrap into a single position, the more expensive their salary becomes and the more likely you are to get a “jack of all trades, master of none.”
Moral of the story: Get specific in your expectations and job description. Be willing to pay more for a person who has more skill-sets. Define the activities you need to fill and be realistic about hiring for multiple roles. Therefore, it’s better to go for one source that guarantees results over hyper-diversifying and having lackluster outcomes from them all.
Final Thoughts on Outsourced Retail Marketing
Whether you’re considering hiring a marketing employee or outsourcing your marketing, spend some time with evaluating the pros and cons of each option. Examine the activities you need along with the position’s payroll implications and choose the models that will work for your company. Most importantly, do a full blown analysis of the costs associated with your needs. If you are interested in learning more about outsourcing your product marketing to an experienced company, please email us at or call 630-246-4068 for more information.