Limited-budget quandary: Engage a marketing company or hire a marketing employee?

Be sure you make the right choice when deciding how to spend your limited marketing budget.

Make the smart choice when deciding how to spend your limited marketing dollars.

By Michelle van Schouwen

It’s a question my team has heard many times over the years, often because we are the marketing company in question. We understand the dilemma. Most small companies have limited marketing budgets. The person in charge of marketing may be an owner, a sales executive, a project manager, or even an engineer.  These roles leave limited time for marketing.

In such cases, a small company may debate the merits of the following either/or proposition: It could engage a marketing company (whether an ad agency, PR company or digital marketing firm) to develop, implement and manage its marketing program. Or, it could hire one inside marketing manager to do the job.

Hiring a good marketing company is the best choice in such situations. Here’s why:

-Good marketing companies that deal with smaller clients are accustomed to taking full responsibility for proactively managing their clients’ marketing. Their clients are often far too busy to be hands-on, so a qualified marketing company will make sure its programs adhere to high standards of progress and ROI.

-A single entry- or mid-level marketing employee is not likely to have top-notch skills in all the areas a small company may require: strategic planning, writing, digital, video and print design, production management, and more. By contracting for integrated marketing with the right marketing firm, a small company can access and leverage all those skills as well as the synergy of a team.

-Four-walls thinking avoided. The appropriate marketing company can provide the services that address all its clients’ major needs while staying out of the weeds regarding the day-to-day business trials and tribulations. Your marketing company can act as inspired short-term, mid-range and future planners – something every small company needs.

Of course, if your small business can invest both in a marketing staffer and a marketing company, that’s a good alternative. But if you must choose one or the other, go for the expertise, multiple complementary skills and powerful perspective of a marketing company that is both experienced with and eager to serve a small business like yours.


Michelle van Schouwen is president of van Schouwen Associates, LLC (vSA), a B2B marketing company based in Longmeadow, MA. The company is known for vSALaunch, its proprietary, modular and scalable system for B2B marketing launches, vSAConsult, its executive-level strategic planning capability, and for its expertise in integrated marketing for B2B. Michelle is also an early-stage investor and mentor to start

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