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The Marketing Help You Need, But Can't Afford A good marketing firm will bring organization and order to your customer acquisition process.

By Brian Barquilla Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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There comes a point in the lifecycle of a healthy business when the owner realizes the business could benefit from some professional marketing help. Haphazardly trying social media, pay per click, or tradeshows will only get you so far and could very well end up hurting the business in the long run. At some point there needs to be some organization and a real professional to handle the efforts and lead the charge.

Here lies the problem. The business owner realizes the need, but can't afford the team consisting of a graphic designer, strategist, PPC expert, writer and Web developer. Hiring just one person doesn't get you what you need and nobody can ever possess all of those skills at once. Let's do the math.

Mid-level graphic designer $51,360

Mid-level marketing director $151,342

Mid-level Web developer $66,238

Mid-level digital strategist $67,119

TOTAL $336,059

Ouch. Add on top of that the cost of inevitable bad hires, benefits and HR headaches; this is an insurmountable figure for even the fastest growing company.

Sadly, the result is the decision of inaction and the company wallows in marketing mediocrity and eventually burns out the most loyal and senior employees. This describes most businesses that fail. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only half of businesses survive five years or more. Out of those, only one-third survive to celebrate their 10 year anniversary. Double ouch. While the reasons are many, some can certainly be attributed to an unorganized sales and marketing function. Can it be measured? Can it be predictable? Can it be effective? If any of those questions leave you scratching your head, you have work to do. And fast.

What to do?

Just about every company explores outsourcing different company functions. Before a company has the need for a full time CFO, they rely on a CPA or CFO-for-hire. Before a company has the need for in-house marketing counsel, they have a trusted attorney. Your marketing function should be approached in the same way, yet most business owners don't realize this until it's perhaps too late, or worse, never. Yes when a company reaches significant milestones, it will make sense to take most of the marketing function in-house, but until then, find a marketing partner that understands your business intimately. A good marketing firm will bring organization and order to your customer acquisition process.

Related: Every Entrepreneur Should Outsource These 3 Key Tasks

The pros.

If you have chosen your marketing vendor partner well, they should be a team of specialists that combine their talents to coordinate your companies marketing function. In a perfect world, this is a seasoned group of professionals that earn well above their mid-tier counterparts. These are true pros. As a result, the business owner should have high expectations. A good firm will spend a significant amount of time getting to know your business. Yes, it can be tedious at times, but it's a needed step for everyone involved if you have any chance of getting to a favorable and effective result. The cost can vary, but suffices to say it should be much cheaper than hiring these pros on your own.

Related: 5 Questions to Help Decide If Outsourcing Is the Solution

The cons.

Just like in any vendor partner relationship, it's all about the people. Get a good team working on your behalf and it feels great. Conversely, if the chemistry is wrong, or it's not a good fit for other reasons, you can spend a lot of time and energy-for nothing.

The only way you can afford to work with a great firm is because that firm also has other companies like yours paying their fees. Therefore, you don't get their full attention. Most marketing companies keep close track of how many man hours they spend on your projects. That can be frustrating when you are paying good money and want to see fast action.

Related: Outsource Your Payroll

Setting expectations.

It's important that expectations are set initially. Benchmarks and milestones should be outlined in an agreement with corresponding completion dates. In short, you want a firm that can get you more sales, but also one that is well suited to position your company for future success. They should help you establish and tune the sales process, train your team and leave you with a marketing engine that will continue to run long after you outgrow your vendor partner. Once the engine is built and the processes established to acquire new clients are predictable, and effective, only then are you ready to bring in in-house talent. By then you can well afford the cost.

Brian Barquilla

Entrepreneur, marketing expert and founder of AdvantageB2B consulting+marketing

Brian Barquilla is the president of AdvantageB2B Consulting + Marketing and is an expert in marketing privately owned businesses. With more than 15 years of experience as a CEO, Brian holds degrees in marketing and management from Jacksonville University. He lives in North Florida with his wife Robin and their two children.

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