Building a Marketing Team: A Startup’s Guide

A lot of people have asked me on what’s the best way to do that. And I’ve been talking to a bunch of small businesses some startups that don’t have marketing teams on site.

And then they’re reaching out to us for marketing services and more often than not I’m saying “Look you’re not ready for our services or this is not the best time to do that, or this is not the best model to do that for your specific business.”.

And at the same time some of them say, “Hey I’m going to just hire a couple of people and you know let them do the heavy lifting for the business” and I’m like “OK, So do you have any idea what you’re about to do with your business and your marketing services accordingly?”.

Because, okay you do have a business, you do have some form of a channel that’s working. You do have some kind of business model that appears to be converting for the time being and you do want to scale it like two times, five times, ten times.

But through using your channel, so who’s to say that those new channels are going to work? How are you going to set those expectations, where to keep your eyes to people who have no idea how your business works in a matter of three months or six months trial, right? So neither of the options makes sense in terms of building that in that possible combination.

So obviously some startups do have marketing co-founders or they do have founders who have previously started a startups and they do have teams they can use, or they know how the marketing funnel works and so forth, which is kind of fine.

But for those businesses that don’t really have any experience with marketing, it’s a bit tricky, they hear a lot about you know advertisement, about PPC, about Inbound Marketing, about Press Releases, about branding, about all of those things, but they don’t know how to put them in use.

They don’t know how to invest in them. So here are a few thoughts from me. First off we do offer marketing retainers as a part of our HubSpot inbound marking partnership.

But we’re not really as efficient for small businesses and we can’t really provide value for a business that is just starting out or you know a two year old business unless they already have some traction and kind of some strategy for a very good reason.

Our standard marketing retainers are about $5,000 a month which is about $60,000 a year. So a small business that has just started out and they probably generate a $100k to $150k in revenue.

Now we’re about to take almost half of their entire revenue. If we’re about to start with them, right. And at the same time we can’t really reduce the prices of our services if we’re about to offer some actionable advice, and some strategy, and content and campaign management and all that stuff, plus we also work with HubSpot.

So we expect our clients to sign up with HubSpot in order for us to leverage their dashboard and create some smart content and yada yada yada. So you know that’s another, they can either pick the $250 a month plan or about $3,000 year, or the $800 pro plan which has a bunch of other features which is another $10,000 a year.

So it adds up to about $70,000 a year which is like I said maybe over 50% of the entire business’ revenue for the year. We are not even talking about profits and we are not even including our founders salary other employees other software tools or hardware whatever they actually used to run their business.

So we generally try not to work with businesses that generate under $3M of revenue. And we work with some to generate between $5M to $100M of revenue and then it makes a bit more sense if we can even sell our larger packages which are about $10k a month obviously doing a lot more due to that plan.

But I have a read a bunch of studies on entrepreneur and Forbes.inc and kind of compiling some data and they said, “Okay, marketing freelancers generally charge between $50 to $100 per hour.”

You know for marketing services that’s if you’re talking to a freelancer. So what I’m trying to say is roughly that adds up to 50 to 100 hours of billable work if they’re about to charge that very same amount. So that’s kind of what the market dictates. And that’s roughly similar to what we’re doing as well, probably a bit higher skill. But then again I digress.

So think about one single person. Like if you’re moving from an agency to a freelancer as an alternative, hiring one single person who’s working half time about 80 hours a month working on your business so what should they do for it?

They have to start creating the strategy they have to analyze the audience, they have to run a bunch of test. They have to plan the content marketing strategy. They probably have to invest a bunch in ads and testing different funnels and then creating different steps of the funnel, creating email list, then probably doing some affiliate marketing if your business can benefit from a deal with creative and so.

Like what I’m trying to say. There’s a lot of work for every single business that could be put in and more often than not that time simply has to be spent. So again we spoke about an agency and about you know on the agency’s expenses. And we also spoke about freelancers because again 80 hours a month for freelance consultant, or freelance marketing consultant, roughly is going to cost about that much.

And they don’t necessarily know how to adapt the strategy because with an agency at least you’re getting a bunch of people some do creative, some content marketing, or SEO or PPC, or whatever it is,. At least they have to do it well or so they say you know agencies like mine. And the other option of course is just hiring a couple of people on your team.

But then again they’re going to be standard kind of general marketers, marketing assistants or just marketing in different divisions, like content marketing, affiliates or whatever it is. They can execute and they can do stuff but they don’t really have the concept to strategy or you can hire strategists. But those are not the people who really do enjoy doing any work whatsoever.

I mean they do want to set up the concepts and they find the fun out and yada yada and then allocate that to a team of 10 or 15 people who can execute that over the next year or two. So that’s not really working out either. So that’s also not an optical advice. The best possible model and the best thing that you can do is just either find a marketing co-founder who’s going to run marketing for you and then hire their own team or VP of marketing or a marketing director and they hire a bunch of people for different purposes.

But that’s also not necessarily the best thing to do because then again you have to first off hire the best guy possible and trust them with the entire marketing strategy and also you can hire another well you should hire another 5 people or more dealing with different things.

Like content writers or strategies to gain SEO, affiliate or PPC or whatever it is. A lot of other things e-mail marketing a bunch of things that marketers do kind of on a daily basis. So that’s also a bit tricky.

And what we normally tried to suggest to companies that are reaching out to us or kind of marketing advice is we say to following, like try to work solo on marketing until you reach to approximately the first $1M, which means try to figure out marketing by yourself or try to hire an assistant.

But allocate them at least 10 hours a week just putting them on assignments or work with a marketing consultant who can advise you on strategy so that you can at least experiment in a cheaper way.¬†At least trying to get to a $1 million in revenue. That’s kind of the first step. Or again try to find a consultant and then a freelancer who is doing part time in some things if you do want.

In other words until the first million try to find a cost effective solutions for your business. Because agencies and marketing consultants are usually effective for high scale businesses. If you do $10 million in revenue and a consultant can basically grow your business by 20% next year. There’s going to be $12 million business.

So you earn $2 million dollars in revenue thanks to that consultant so you can even pay them you know a $100k, $200k, $500k, just because they grew your revenue by $2 million.

With a $100 million dollar business even if they convert at you know 5% that’s still $5 million dollars in revenue. So you get the gist of it. For smaller businesses this is not the case. So hustle until the first million or work with an assistant and hope that you’re not going to burn the money and then work with an agency.

Best case scenario again what I suggest is work with an agency for a certain number of hours like 80 hours and they hire one or two marketing assistants and then when you grow past say $3M to $5 million, if you have some marketing expertise already then you can hire someone who’s in charge of marketing, marketing director, V.P. marketing someone else, who’s going to take charge of that entire business endeavor for you.

And they hired the people on your team. Until then try the different combinations. Try not to invest a lot of money into expensive endeavors that are suitable to larger businesses.

But also try to be smart about what sort of things you’re investing at because again you can spend both your time and the time of your assistants and the money for both in to activities that are not really productive. Which is where a marketing consultant may be a good fit. Just helping with direction and with experimentation until you pick up some traction and can afford to reinvest further.