Can You Afford a Marketing Department?

The path to greatness for a small or medium-sized business is an adventure not for the faint of heart. Every success is met with another decision to upgrade equipment or hire staff to get to the next level. At best, the growth curve looks more like stair steps than a linear line. Conversely, publicly-traded companies keep investors happy with a consistent 15-30% rate of growth. Their growth curve looks much more smooth and manageable with enough access to capital to keep projects rolling. Wouldn’t that be nice? 

For SMB’s, they make strategic investments when they can and hope it pays off in the next quarter or even next year. It’s a high stakes gamble that can have disastrous or fatal business consequences if a wrong decision is made. Kind of like the analogy – jumping off a cliff and building an airplane on the way down. 

One decision a growing company will inevitably face is an investment in the marketing function. Almost certainly, designing a more organized approach to how a company gets its customers will yield results. A predictable and measurable lead flow not only fuels growth, but builds enormous value for those business owners that want to exit one day. 

But the stair steps to building an effective marketing team are enormous. The skill sets required and the salaries these professionals command is enough to make even the most ambitious business owner weak in the knees. Let’s analyze the salary cost of just a basic marketing department. 

 Director of Marketing $151,342
Mid-Level Graphic Designer $51,360
Mid-Level Web Developer $66,238
Mid-Level Copywriter $40,000
Mid-Level Growth Marketer $67,119
TOTAL $376,059

On top of that eye-watering figure is the inevitable cost of bad hires, benefits, and HR headaches. This is a seemingly insurmountable figure for even the fastest-growing companies, thus creating the classic chicken or the egg scenario. If you had more sales, you could afford a marketing department, and if you only had a marketing department, you could earn more sales. 

Sure, you could outsource some of the marketing functions, but haphazardly trying different approaches on social media, pay per click, and 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 real professionals to handle the efforts and lead the charge.

One firm thinks they have a better way to grow a business. Atlas Rose is a strategic marketing leadership firm that offers Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) level talent on a fractional basis. These CMO’s bring together the talent and strategic vision you need but struggle to afford. Each CMO brings with them a dedicated Marketing Manager and vetted vendors that have proven themselves with other clients and can hit the ground running. 

Just about every organization explores outsourcing different company functions. Before a company requires a full-time CFO, they rely on a CPA or CFO-for-hire. Before a company has the need for in-house legal 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. 

Different from an advertising agency?

A fractional CMO is different from an advertising agency because the CMO is an extension of and is integrated into your leadership team, just as they would be if they were full time. An agency will always be a vendor and is primarily concerned with billable hours. 

Atlas Rose CEO, Branden O’Neil shares more. “In our company, we have a specific process we go through that identifies and catalogs brand standards. This is our way of organizing the marketing function so messaging is on point and directed to the right audience. Our only loyalty is to the client, so if a vendor isn’t performing up to standards, we take the lead and make the necessary changes.”

An agency still needs to take their direction from someone in the organization, and if the owner is not fluent with the latest marketing techniques, they may not be the best person to lead the effort.  

“That’s the catch 22,” says O’Neil. “Leading a marketing department is never the highest and best use of the CEO’s time. Every organization that expects to grow needs department heads to report up to the President or CEO giving them the data they need so that they can make informed strategic decisions. Atlas Rose fills that gap. No agency can do that.” 

Business owners have always been a resourceful bunch. Perhaps hiring a fractional CMO versus your own marketing department is one way to make that next stair step of growth less steep.

About Atlas Rose: Atlas Rose is a Christian led marketing leadership company focusing on bringing executive-level help to small and medium-sized businesses. By offering fractional CMO’s integrated with their client’s leadership team, they effectively impact the company culture and mission. The result is a predictable, measurable, and effective lead flow for just a fraction of what a full-time marketing department would cost.  They can be reached at or 762-5233-5007.

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