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Chapter 26: Hiring vs. Outsourcing Your Profit Engineers
“What if I just train my team to do all of this for me? They’re smart people.”
“I’m sure they are. But are they passionate and engaged around this?”
“They can be.”
“How sure are you about that? Good marketers are good because they’re total marketing geeks.”
“That’s not a pejorative. I’m a marketing geek. You’re a software geek. Being a geek is just being unabashedly excited about the stuff that interests you.”
“Okay, fair enough. I’m a geek. They’re geeks.”
“And so am I. The question is whether or not their geek matches the geek you need to get this particular job done. Let me ask you a few questions to help you figure out whether that’s so.”
This is the great debate about how to handle profit engineering for your business. Once you’ve decided you can’t do it with the people already on your team, you have three choices:
- Hire an individual to join your company and lead your profit engineering efforts.
- Hire an agency to provide profit engineering services for your company.
- Do neither and fail as a business.
Obviously, I don’t recommend number three — but the right choice between the two remaining options is far less clear. I can’t tell you which is definitely better for your business, but I can give you all the information you need to make an informed decision on your own.
Let’s run the numbers. The national average for the base salary for an in-house marketer is $70,000, with benefits valued at $17,500. Add the costs of training, and you get a price of just under $90,000 per year. Other costs also accrue, such as the extra time your bookkeeper and human resources people spend on that individual, and the risk that you might need to hire and train a replacement.
The national average cost to hire a B2C or B2B marketing agency is $3,000 to $6,000 per month. That figure depends on the size of the service, where the company is based, what and what kind of software subscriptions they require, and how expert their top players are. Multiply by 12 and you’re looking at $36,000 to $72,000 per year.
I’m not giving you this breakdown to replace your own research. Region and industry make a huge difference in your real numbers. Instead, I want to illustrate how you might approach organizing and structuring the numbers for your own research.
“VS” should be “vs.”
In both occurrences, “In House” should be “In-House,” needs the hyphen.
Complexity and Control
If you’re big into control, then you will probably prefer hiring an internal marketing person when it’s time to up your profit engineering game. The day-to-day contact, the nature of an employee-employer relationship, and keeping everything in-house simply make control easier to achieve.
By contrast, a good agency runs the show for you. They project manage their team and yours, set agendas, think outside the box, and control the project so you don’t have to. The main benefit of hiring a profit engineering firm is that it’s truly a thing you shouldn’t have to worry about. As a general rule, going to an outside agency means sacrificing some of your control over your marketing efforts.
Complexity is the flip side of that coin. As you might have intuited from my breakdown of expenses for an agency vs. an in-house employee, the level of complexity is much higher with the latter. You have legal factors, training, scheduling, personal concerns, and all the factors related to actually implementing the plans that the hire comes up with.
Using an agency makes all of the complexities their problem. Your job becomes looking at the options they recommend and then making an informed decision between those options. All other aspects of your marketing get handled by them.
Complexity vs. control. You can have lots of both, or lots of neither. High control requires high complexity, and low control comes with reduced complexity. The balance you prefer should guide your decisions.
The Passion Question
Passion is the one place where an in-house hire unequivocally outperforms a marketing agency.
The person who is the most passionate and engaged about your business is you. The people who are the second most passionate and engaged about your business are your team members: They are the people whose paychecks depend on your business success, and who see your energy and achievement on a daily basis.
A marketing agency is full of people who are passionate about marketing, and deeply engaged in the processes and practices of what they do. They will market the heck out of your company, but they won’t have your business as deeply under their skin as somebody in your house.
This doesn’t mean a profit engineering agency can’t do a great job, but it is a reality that should factor into your final decision.
One of the best aspects of on-boarding a new profit engineer is that they will quickly become an expert in your industry. They come to the job knowing marketing, then spend several weeks specializing in marketing what you sell.
Assuming the hire is successful and the fit is good, that person will become the world’s leading expert in profit engineering your company, brand, and product.
When working with an agency, you have the opportunity to work with senior-level marketing professionals. Although they might not be experts in your industry yet, they know profit engineering cold. They can show you techniques you’ve never even thought of, and how they have applied those techniques to help previous clients. They can provide you with the latest technology and tools, and have an entire agency to give you a second and third set of eyes on everything.
As I said at the beginning of this chapter, I can’t tell you which choice is right for your company. But if you factor in these points, and think about them in terms of your company’s reality, needs, and goals, then you should be able to make the right choice on your own. Nuanced Media is a premier Phoenix marketing agency, and our experts are always willing to answer your questions about hiring a new member of your profit engineering team.