It’s common to find this question from CEOs/founders who are considering multiple options for their marketing team. We usually see three different trains of thought:

  1. CEOs want to do marketing themselves.
  2. They want to outsource an agency or freelancer.
  3. They want to hire a full-time marketing employee.

So when it comes to small business digital marketing, should you do it yourself or outsource?

The best answer: both.

The eventual goal for every CEO should be to outsource their marketing efforts to an employee or a capable agency. As a CEO, you probably have more pressing issues than looking at individual campaign analytics or social media metrics. But even if you hire someone, how will you know if those people know what they’re talking about?

There is only one way: you’ve got to have at least a base level of marketing knowledge yourself.

Back in the day at Net-Results, CEO Michael Ward set up most of the inbound marketing campaigns (including landing pages, Google Ads campaigns) himself — using the Net-Results marketing automation platform as a core, of course! In addition to all of that, Net-Results has original roots as an analytics platform — and guess who built that?

Then, he got people in to take over. Right now, it’s a full-time marketing team, but it’s also been agencies and contracted help in the past. Starting out with knowledge in marketing ensured that he knew enough about marketing to at least be able to have a decent conversation about it from both a strategic and a tactical perspective. Plus, he was better able to manager employees and had better expectations for the team that he was now in charge of overseeing from a very high level.

Outsourcing also has another benefit: you get to hire people who generally have greater knowledge in specific veins of marketing than you do, giving you the opportunity to go from good to great. A graphic designer is a great, tangible example — can you guess which one was done by someone with less marketing-specific/design knowledge and which was done by someone with more marketing-specific/design knowledge?

Hopefully, we don’t have to spell it out for you 😉

So moral of the story: The person should probably be better at marketing than the CEO and also have more specific knowledge and experience than the CEO does, too. But we recommend that CEOs at least dabble in marketing first, so they don’t get sold BS by whoever they hire next.

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Sarah Augustinsky

on the books: digital marketing specialist — more commonly known as: sass master extraordinaire