• Brian Castle

Your Marketing Team Isn’t Growing. And It Shouldn’t.

One of the benefits of being in your career more than two decades (translation: being old) is that you see some patterns, gain some insights, and ultimately become just a little bit wiser through new perspectives. My career began at the dawn of personal technology’s influence on business—email, laptops, cell phones, pagers (!)—so you can imagine some of the changes I’ve seen and how hard it is to keep my jaw from dropping all the time.

A big change I’ve observed is the staffing model of marketing departments at small and mid-sized companies over time. Small companies looked to hire marketing managers who could do it all: copywriting, design, strategy, and maintaining websites. As they grew, they might hire specialists like graphic designers and copywriters, or even in-house web development professionals. Many companies, some as small as 30-50 employees, would employ what looked like an entire in-house agency.

But technology upset that applecart for two reasons, which I can readily see: a lot of marketing requirements got too technical and impossible to keep up with (think: search engine optimization), and the proliferation of media and the requisite amount of content needed to populate assets like website, social media, podcasts, and video channels.

Years ago, the best business attorney in America introduced me to the concept of fractional corporate counsel. Even small businesses, at a certain point in their growth, need ongoing legal expertise, but they can’t even begin to hire a full-time, in-house lawyer. So, they pay for a chunk of a firm’s time that can be used in areas as diverse as contract reviews and hiring compliance to intellectual property and real estate leases.

The modern marketing needs of small and mid-sized companies seem to fit well with this fractional team concept. Until you get to the stratosphere of scope, it just makes more sense to keep your in-house team minimal and focused on strategy, while employing outside partners to fill strategic gaps and execute, execute, execute. Freed of all the other obligations of your employees, you can set higher expectations for production, and see those expectations come to reality with an external extension of your team.

Agencies like ours can meet the volume of content demands you face for social media, video, articles, public relations, podcasting, and more, and they can do so at a fraction of the cost of assembling the same diverse array of talent internally. The reality is that you’d never spend half a million dollars to staff your marketing department with permanent hires if you’re a small to mid-tier business. Many companies simply go without—or just bare bones—on the marketing front, with an over-reliance on their sales teams to stay competitive.

I’m a firm believer in sales—I’ve been in sales roles my whole life. But you need a realistic approach and balance of sales and marketing based on your industry. Some industries and markets lend themselves to the sales-first (and nearly a sales-only) approach. But in others, even the best salespeople are hitting the proverbial wall. Prospects no longer answer their phones. Many aren’t even at a physical work location any longer for in-person calls or drop-ins. And email and LinkedIn are super-saturated.

There’s a clear answer for this new dynamic, and it’s not doubling down on your sales team. It’s getting them the help they need. Build your brand. Establish your thought leadership. Educate your prospect base. Equip your team with content to share and build credibility and real relationships, rather than relying on pressure and persuasion. These are strategies that will sustain your business for the long haul, while equipping your sales team and mitigating their diminishing value in the digital age.

If you’d like to learn more about how to not grow your marketing team, contact us today at Parklife.