Some companies exist a long time before they decide to take the plunge and hire marketing help. Others commit early because they get it. What’s the right staffing strategy and how do you know when it’s time to hire marketing help?

In some companies, the marketing help comes last. After all, there are so many other obvious roles to fill.

You need someone to run operations, a bookkeeper to track expenses and pay the bills, a salesperson to bring in the revenue, a product person to create and manage what you’ll sell and, perhaps if you are big enough, someone to support them all in a human resources function.

So who does marketing?

Well, in a lot of companies, the owner assumes this role. A sales person or customer service rep might help. And sometimes the product development people will stretch to make this a priority.

Or no one does marketing.

So do you have marketing help for your company? And how do you know when it’s time to hire someone just for that role?

Here are 5 hints that it’s time to hire marketing help:

Hint #1 – 100% of your sales leads come from sales people

It’s great to have successful sales people. Every company needs them. But sales people should not be the only lead generation effort available, right? There should be a variety of lead generation sources including content development (blogging, newsletters, infographics, videos, etc.), social outreach (Twitter, Facebook), business networking (LinkedIn, in-person networking) and more. And who’s there to create an engagement and implementation strategy? The efforts of a strong marketing person can deliver substantial leads. And support your sales organization by building up the company with new potential customers. Before the sales call. Oh, and sales people can use Twitter too.

Hint #2 – The question: “what makes us different?” leaves everyone wondering

This question may come during an internal meeting. Or it may come from a customer who needs to choose between you and 35 other providers in the industry. It’s an innocent enough question. But if you can’t answer it, you might be in trouble. Is it something you can defend like product quality or a patent? Or is it something hard to defend like price or “we were first”? You need to know your differentiating qualities and everyone in the organization needs to know and support the continuation of that quality. And, yes, your customers need to be reminded.

Hint #3 – The marketing plan section of your business plan still includes the boilerplate copy from the business plan software

Embarrassing, yes. But not uncommon. Why?

“We’ll do marketing later.”

An incomplete or ineffective marketing plan is dangerous. Because often it includes the DNA for how the business will grow, how new products will be launched and how potential customers will learn about the company.

Hint #4 – Your brand and brand promise bores people. Evidenced by the lack of engagement in your customers.

Brands need to have personality. Does yours have one? And is it one that your target market finds interesting and compelling? Brands also need to deliver a brand promise. A benefit based and relevant statement that tells people “why you”.

It is the “pinky swear” of the adult business world.

And you should have one.

Hint #5 – Your annual strategic plan lacks energy and purpose

Marketers are great at marketing and awfully good at strategy. They are often the ones thinking bigger and longer term on behalf of the business. They are looking for new ideas, new products to promote, new customer groups to target and new technologies to improve business efficiency. Really. So if you find your strategic planning process lacking innovation or energy, hire some marketing help. You’ll be glad you did.

Need help with the hiring process or, in the short term, a consultant to get you started? I can help with marketing at your company today. Really.