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Professional digital marketing is a substantial investment for any company. Of course, the hope is that once a relationship is established between a client and marketer, the return on investment will increase sharply.

Still, there’s always the temptation to trim costs. And while it seems like marketing isn’t exactly a place where you can cut corners, there are definitely options for a fledgling company to consider. Apart from choosing from among a wide range of professional digital marketing agencies, there’s also the option of taking your marketing strategy in-house.

Many companies have done this and found remarkable success. But I would argue that an in-house campaign is almost always a bigger gamble.

It’s one thing if you have people on staff with a firm background in professional digital marketing. It’s another if you have to start from scratch. Even if you have a brilliant concept for a strategy, there’s a lot of nuance involved in actually executing it.

Don’t get me wrong; you can learn the skills you need. Technically, anyone can. And there’s a growing number of professional digital marketing courses that will help you do so, both online and in-person.

You may already see the problem, though: There’s a cost to acquiring these skills. And it can quickly start to cut into the savings you were expecting to get by shifting from contractual to in-house marketing. Take the cost of any single marketing course and then factor in your natural uncertainty about which exact course you need to take. Add the cost of the time it takes you to learn relevant skills, and you might find that the expected savings vanish completely.

One thing that professional digital marketing courses could still be good for, though, is vetting a prospective contractor. Ecommerce startups would be well served by looking at which courses are in demand at the time their marketing campaign is beginning. You don’t need to be an expert in these topics in order to effectively question your would-be marketers about whether they’re up-to-date in those areas.

But I won’t discount the possibility of any site owner looking at relevant course offerings and confidently declaring, “I can learn this.” For some people, that’s sure to be true. But the wisdom of going in-house must be demonstrated with a detailed business plan that compares direct marketing costs against the costs of learning on the job.

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