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Hire a Marketing Generalist or a Social Media Consultant?
Lucas HamonJan 22, 2015 12:31:00 PM8 min read

Hire a Marketing Generalist or a Social Media Consultant?

Choosing the right marketing strategy is not always easy:

When Orange Pegs Media began, we were a social media agency. Our roles within the different companies' marketing strategies varied depending on the existing tools and players involved. We worked alone or within the context of a team, and we always found ourselves operating outside our contracted perameters.

One of the biggest hurdles we faced was with smaller businesses that were ramping up their marketing efforts, because choosing between a marketing generalist and a social media consultant challenged many preconceived notions of what marketing is supposed to be.

... But It's Time to Commit -

Pulling the trigger on your business' new or transformed sales and marketing strategy is ulcer-inducing and quite possibly one of the most important business decisions you'll make. But you can't put it off anymore, because you need to grow your business, and this is how you do it.

I am even going to take it one step further for you, because there are distinct reasons why Orange Pegs converted from a social media agency to an inbound marketing agency. As a way to help share our incredible journey and transformation I'll include it in the comparison as well.

BREAKING IT DOWN - Generalist vs Specialist vs Inbound:


1. Comparing apples to oranges

Marketing Generalist: 

Typically comes in the form of a Marketing Manager or Marketing Director. Will likely want full-time work, but you may find capable consultants as well. To start, the jack of all trades theory is a myth. You have the strategists, designers, and content developers, so although we're calling them "generalists", they will still likely need to pull in outside resources, such as freelancers and agencies depending on the needs of the individual projects.

They are likely educated with a degree in marketing or business, and although not specialists in digital media, they understand the growing importance of genuine digital marketing.

RECOMMENDATION: If you're building your team from scratch and decide to go this route, get somebody who is more of a strategist, so they can take this out of your hands and build it for you.

Social Media Consultant: 

Aka "Social Media Marketing Manager." Doesn't expect W2 employment (unless it's at Innocent Drinks), as their roles are not yet widely accepted as high-profile marketing. Develops and also usually implements marketing strategies purposed for social channel distribution. A lot more diverse in nature in regards to skills than what most realize. Gets involved with online communities and bloggers, and may even be versed in crafting blogs for their clients.

They're likely to come from a background other than marketing, such as sales, and their education is likely to be something creative, such as Liberal Arts. They like to call themselves "students of life."

RECOMMENDATION: If you're just getting started, find somebody with a sales background who can generate leads. I would make sure they can blog and that it's part of the package, and they need to be strategists so they can help you build your marketing teams as you grow.


Full service marketing, the Inbound way: 

Inbound marketers do just about everything digital, including strategy development, social media management, blogging, email drip campaigns, lead nurturing, content development, lead scoring, website development and management, and SEO.

Their backgrounds are diverse, from sales to marketing, to sales and marketing. One can be certified in inbound marketing, and the industry standard for that credential is Hubspot's.

You don't have to actually buy the software to get certified either, but they offer intensive training to subscribers, which has been compared by many to a Master's level program. One even has to pass a rigorous practicum to be Hubspot Certified, their next level of education above Inbound.

RECOMMENDATION: Embrace it fully. If you're not ready to with such an intensive program, one of the other two resources is probably better for you at this time. Looking for supporting facts? GO HERE:

2. Strengths

Of course, this is where you ask yourself why certain strengths are important to you. Think about your target demographics and the trends you are seeing with your company. What seems to be working on you these days?


Where the Generalists Rein Supreme:

Outbound Marketing Strategy - putting together the perfect logo is important... so is using the right colors and fonts. Marketers have been working with these elements for decades.

Ads - Print ads, radio ads, and even Google ads... These folks know how to broadcast your message

Flyers and other Outbound Materials, like Event Chotchke - They equip your salesforce with all of the necessary doo-dads required to make a good in-person first impression

Central marketing directives come from full-time internal employee - Nothin' like having internal resources


Where social media consultants rein supreme:

Social media strategy - Will deploy one that is actually social. Knows how to attract followers and interact with the public

Blogging - This is a very social aspect to marketing, one that is essentially a conversation with the public in an article format

Conversions - If they have that sales background, they'll know buying signals, and you'll always own the followers they generate - meaning more conversion opportunities.

Social Klout & Sharing - These folks are likely more known in the blogging communities, and they'll be able to leverage those relationships to garner more exposure for you.


Where Inbounders Rein Supreme:

Digital Content Marketing Services & Lead Capturing - Inbound is about exchanging valuable digital content for lead information. You want my ebook on SEO? Then give me your email address!

Lead Nurturing 24/7/365 - Through evergreen blogging and automated workflows, they're attracting quality visitors, turning them into leads, and even booking appointments ALL THE TIME.

Transitioning hot leads to sales - The best inbound marketing tools will have lead scoring and CRM integration. In addition, they'll want to execute an SLA between sales and marketing so there are 100% clear objectives and expectations.

Reporting - Everything they do is digital, and typically runs through just one or two software programs. This means unrivaled analytics.

Ties together elements you may already be doing, so you don't have to start from scratch, whether you're just getting started or turning up the volume to your existing strategy. 

3. Succession, Growth, and Integration

Teamwork, integration, succession planning, and growth - oh my!

Social Media Consultant or agency

Succession - You own your followers and all of your social media accounts regardless of your relationship with the consultant. They may or may not own the actual software subscription to your social media management tools (I recommend insisting that you pay for this so you own it).

Growth - You can build out infrastructure just in the social media department should you choose to do so. The next steps would be to separate and compartmentalize duties. Bloggers focus just on blogging. Distribution and Curation focus on sharing. Communities experts focus on forums and discussions. Check out Innocent Drinks' way of doing it.

Integration - Social media works well with traditional media because you can repurpose your old marketing materials by chopping them up, sharing them, and creating content peripherals around them including blogs and offers. They should also be in contact with your customer service teams, because a lot of what they do is focused existing clients... making them happier and turning them into promoters of your brand.


Marketing Generalist:

Succession - You likely own all of the materials they create, whether it be your logo and taglines or flyers and strategic initiatives. We recommend that everything is stored on a drive that you own and can create or remove access to. Starting over for whatever reason here is probably the most challenging because there is no easy-to-find history in case you misplace or get shut out of your owned materials.

Growth - There are many ways this can go. Because you smartly hired a Director or Manager level professional and followed our earlier recommendation of hiring a strategist, they will help you architect this. If they are seasoned, they will likely have a network of consultants and freelancers they like to use for special projects.

Integration - If you already have content or a small marketing team, hiring a generalist at the Director level may turn your world inside out, which could be a good thing. You may find yourself with a new team and an entirely new directive. Hiring somebody more entry level to work under your existing director could give you the flexibility necessary to really execute on your current ideas.


Succession - You own everything, and most of it will be stored in the software program you use to manage your campaigns. This includes everything from your website templates to stock photos to blogs to your scripted emails to the automation workflow architecture to custom forms. Making the transition here should be relatively quick and easy, and you should have easy access to oversee everything

Growth - Growing with inbound means dedicating more resources to the areas you know are working because the facts tell you so. For most, this will mean upping the ante on your blog volume, more content offers, and upgrading the software package to handle more contacts and workflow automation.

Integration - Inbound ties together a lot of older concepts of marketing. They can repurpose existing marketing materials and bridge the gaps between your current mechanisms. Best of all, they have the best tools for reporting efficacy.

Did this just surface MORE questions?

What about weaknesses, barriers to entry, and pricing? Ah, great questions! And worthy of a second installment to this blog! I know there have been a lot of those lately, but these are not small ideas we are exploring.

Make sure to subscribe to Brain Food for the next part to this mini-series along with answers to other developing ideas.

Are you interested in exploring inbound marketing with a free consultation? Set up a call today! 


Lucas Hamon

Over 10 years of B2B sales experience in staffing, software, consulting, & tax advisory. Today, as CEO, Lucas obsesses over inbound, helping businesses grow! Husband. Father. Beachgoer. Wearer of plunging v-necks.