Though each company organizes its marketing team based on its unique culture, budget, and expected outcomes, there are three general approaches you can take:
- Do-It-Yourself (DIY)
- In-House Hire
- Outsource to a Marketing Agency
Each one has pros, cons, and cost analysis to consider and thoroughly evaluate before making the best choice for your company. In this post, the first in a two-part series, we’ll walk through the pros, cons, and cost analysis of each option to help you decide which approach works best for you.1. DIY
In small engineering companies, a few technical staff members often share marketing responsibilities. For instance, an R&D engineer may also fix the website and/or write code and content to update pages. A technical salesperson may be responsible for creating materials for a trade show in between customer visits and writing proposals.
- No one knows your products and services better than you. By creating content yourself, you don’t have to waste time conveying that information to an outsider who may not be as familiar with your technology.
- With the technical competence of the engineering staff, it’s easy to perform tasks such as updating website code.
- Any time spent on marketing takes a technical salesperson away from closing new business or takes a high-value engineering staff member, such as an R&D engineer, away from working on product development or billable client service delivery.
- A marketing professional can execute marketing activities faster, smarter, and more cost-effectively than an untrained, highly-compensated technical staff member.
A bare minimum inbound marketing program requires 15 to 20 hours per week to create one content piece per month, blog once a week, manage leads, support sales needs, improve SEO, update the website, and assess metrics. You can roughly estimate your annual cost based on the income of the engineer or salesperson who executes the marketing activities. Using a salary of $90,000, that calculates to $33,750 to $45,000, not including the opportunity cost of that person’s time spent on closing business, developing products, or delivering to clients. For this reason, the DIY approach can be quite expensive given an engineer’s salary and lost high-value productivity and revenue.2. Hire an In-House Marketing Specialist
If your company doesn’t have the bandwidth or expertise to carry out these marketing tasks in a consistent and timely fashion, you may need to bring on a marketing specialist.
- Having a dedicated marketing resource at your company means that person will live and breathe your brand and have the bandwidth to execute the marketing plan.
- It’s easier for a dedicated, on-site marketing person to chase people down to get the materials, reviews, and approvals needed to complete activities.
- If your messaging, marketing strategy, or campaign plans are not well defined, you will save money with a fixed-salary in-house marketing person versus an outsourced resource because of the extensive time you’ll likely need for numerous reviews and back-and-forth iteration of activity execution.
- B2B technical marketing is a unique niche that requires people with an aptitude and interest in topics that are considered boring or confusing (or both) to the average marketer. Be prepared to spend a lot of time and effort in the hiring and onboarding process to select and train your marketing specialists for success. If this process is rushed, they will quickly become demotivated and disengaged and leave six months later, sending you back to square one.
- One person will not have enough experience across all marketing disciplines to be able to take advantage of all the best marketing methods. Just as a mechanical engineer has limited electrical engineering knowledge, a marketer who has deep experience in SEO and web marketing may not be comfortable with company positioning or marketing strategy.
- Sometimes the marketing specialist can get commandeered by the sales department to help with its needs and start serving as a part-time sales coordinator, which compromises marketing goals and results.
The approximate salary of a marketing specialist ranges from $50,000 to $65,000, not including other benefits and taxes. That means this person is now on your payroll, rain or shine, so even if times are lean, be prepared to cover the costs of this overhead expense.
Word of Warning
You may be tempted to hire a “free” marketing intern, but remember, interns are looking for learning experiences and chances to grow their marketing skills. As students, they are much less experienced and require a marketing mentor to spend time guiding them. Be careful whom you choose as a mentor. Bad marketing not only delivers poor results but also damages your company’s reputation (think emails with spelling errors or inaccurate images). Engineers have little patience with poor quality.
Check back this Thursday for part 2 in this series. For more in-depth information on marketing strategy tailored specifically to engineers and scientists, take a look at our CEO’s book, Smart Marketing For Engineers: An Inbound Marketing Guide to Reaching Technical Audiences and download a free chapter.