During a recent consulting session with a new client in the IT services space, we got into the “tough stuff” pretty quickly with their President. We’d flown through the first 15 minutes of the video chat…what they’d been doing previously, what the numbers looked like, how they handled metrics and reporting, etc.
One simple question that we always ask hit him like a vintage Mike Tyson uppercut. What we asked was “does your marketing budget include the salary of your marketing staff?” The question hung in the air for a few seconds. His expression changed, his voice lowered. The tone of the meeting pivoted instantly. “No, it doesn’t” he finally answered.
The implications were obvious. What was being put on the table was the hardest marketing decision that person had faced or ever will face. As the questions continued, we learned that the marketing staff was one person – a marketing manager that had been on the job for a little over a year. And wouldn’t you know it? They had the same last name as that President we were speaking to.
It was his nephew. Three years removed from college where he’d studied business and marketing. His salary was north of $50,000, and his primary roles were blogging on the company website, finding interesting stories around the web for use in the monthly e-newsletter and managing their AdWords campaign (even though they hadn’t managed PPC campaigns before and weren’t tracking any conversions or other key metrics). He answered the phone and attended local Chamber of Commerce meetings too, but that was about the scope of it. You see where this is heading. There wasn’t expertise in managing website marketing, brand building or overall lead generation.
That is the epitome of why outsourcing your marketing department is hard. It’s an extreme example, but it helps drive this point home…employees are people. They represent relationships. They have parents and kids and hobbies, favorite foods and quirky habits (all of which you know all too much about). They’re your people. The ones you see every day and share 40+ hours a week with. Being faced with a business decision that impacts them is more than hard. It’s potentially gut-wrenching.
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In case you’re wondering, the young man in mention above was transitioned to a sales role, servicing key existing accounts. That was their decision. Regardless, our harsh-reality recommendation was to shift those funds towards a website redesign and an expanded advertising budget along with a performance marketing plan…and it was approved.
That’s one benefit of having an external consultant or partner help with decisions like this. Removing emotion and personal relationships from decision making isn’t easy. The prospect of replacing marketing staff isn’t easy. But improving marketing ROI and taking your business from “treading water” to “moving forward” can require organizational change.
Key takeaways here:
1 – If you aren’t considering marketing salaries as part of your marketing budget, you should.
2 – If you have staff that isn’t creating a multiple of their salary in value, you should consider change.
In closing, replacing your marketing staff or department can certainly be hard. However, consider the prospect of not meeting revenue goals for another year. That can mean really, really hard decisions must be made in the future.
If you’re ready to consider an outsourced marketing partner, please contact us today!