3 October 2023

How to properly delegate marketing (and get your time back)


One of the most common challenges we hear from business leaders is that they keep having to take care of marketing when their time would be much better spent running (and growing) their business. 

In this post, we'll delve into the reasons why this happens and explore effective strategies to break the cycle. So you can spend less time worrying about marketing and more time doing the work you really want to do.

Why business leaders get stuck doing marketing

In our experience, there are three main reasons business leaders find themselves in this situation.

They have the vision

In the early stages of a business, the founder's vision usually drives the marketing forward. They have the clearest sense of why the business exists and how they want to communicate that to customers. This makes them the most suitable marketing lead during their ‘start-up’ phase. However, this can create issues in the long run, as we’ll explain below.

Practical constraints

Another reason business leaders often handle marketing themselves is the lack of resources, particularly cash. Hiring a dedicated marketing team member is rarely possible when the business is just starting up, so the business leader steps in and does it themselves. Unfortunately, once in place, it’s often hard for them to step back out again.

Trust and control issues

While marketing can be a source of frustration for some business owners, it’s often something they struggle to let go of. Past experiences and failed attempts to hand it off - often bringing in agencies or hiring junior marketing managers - can foster a belief that others simply can't do it as well as they can. Or do things the way they want them to be.

However, this hands-on approach has its limitations. As the business expands, the business leader has less and less time for marketing, which means marketing gets deprioritised and devalued. This results in marketing that often has little to no impact. 

Also, as the business’ marketing needs become more complex, deeper knowledge and understanding of marketing theory and practice becomes necessary. Founders without a marketing background find themselves frustrated because they want their marketing to be better, but they’re not sure what ‘good marketing’ looks like or how to make it happen.

Breaking the cycle: the right way to delegate marketing

To truly delegate marketing, it's important to understand the types of marketers you can bring in. There are three main categories: marketing leaders, marketing managers and outsourced specialists

The key is selecting someone with the experience to define and execute a proper marketing strategy without your constant involvement and supervision. A marketing leader will be able to define a strategy and execute it independently. You can still have oversight and final sign-off, but you won’t need to be as heavily involved as you would with a junior marketer or outsourced specialist

That said, if you’re going to hire a ‘marketing leader’, you’re going to need to trust them and be willing for them to look at things and do things differently. There’s little point in hiring an experienced partner and then telling them what to do.

Why junior hires and agencies can be a false economy

Junior hires and agencies may seem like an attractive low-cost option. But while they can handle day-to-day tasks, you’re still going to need to be involved making sure things are being done right, fixing things when they go wrong and trying to understand if what you’re doing is what the business really needs. Which means you haven’t really delegated marketing at all. 

The person you delegate marketing to should have a broad range of skills and experience, from translating your business vision into a coherent marketing plan to managing teams and suppliers. They’ll also need to be able to select the right combination of marketing platforms, set goals and hold people to account and ensure alignment with the overall strategy.

Junior marketers and agencies might excel at certain parts of this but usually lack the breadth of experience required to take the whole lot off your hands for good. 

Be ready to invest

One of the main reasons that business owners find themselves getting sucked back into marketing when they’d rather be doing other things is because they under-invest.

Marketing is always an investment - and delegating marketing is no different. Junior marketing managers and agencies may be cheap, but the less you spend, the more likely you are to still be heavily involved - and disappointed by the outcomes. Plus, your time is expensive and the money you spend on delegating marketing will be offset against the money saved by you not doing it. 

That being said, bringing in an experienced marketing leader doesn’t have to break the bank. Hiring a full-time Marketing Director might not be feasible for most SMEs. However, a part-time arrangement can be a cost-effective solution. Additionally, a skilled marketing leader can play a pivotal role in training junior team members and improving marketing staff retention.

As the saying goes…

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got. The only way to take marketing off your hands once and for all is to invest in a marketing leader who has the skills and experience to do it without your supervision. Lucky for you, we know a few people who can help

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