Before we can get started projecting the cost of a marketing team, we first need to understand what the make up could potentially look like by examining the needed skill sets. At YC5, we believe that the basic fundamentals of marketing can be broken down into two core components, as outlined below. 

Now some of these functions can certainly be carried out by a single person who has the right mix of skills, but you’ll also want to keep your team focused and ensure enough bandwidth is available to carry out all necessary tasks. 

For the sake of this exercise, let’s focus on what a foundational team could look like, with the understanding that personnel can be scaled up or down, depending on needs. So let’s begin by taking a look at each job function’s annual salary. 

In order to maintain consistency, all data was derived from LinkedIn’s salary explorer tool using the median base salary within the United States. Given the wide range of markets, varied opportunities and overall economic possibilities, the U.S. provides a good baseline measurement. 

Head of Marketing

First things first, you’ll need someone to run the show. Many have tried otherwise, but if there’s not someone steering as a designated driver, the car won’t make it very far. This means you’ll need a Head of Marketing. This is an important hire that shouldn’t be found in the bargain bin. This role  will need to be fulfilled by someone who possess leadership skills, strategic reasoning and vision. 

Median Annual Salary: $140,000


As far as specialized roles are concerned, this should be one of your first priorities. If you find the right person, they should be able to fuel your entire visual brand identity all the way from logos to user experience and visual consistency. While there are plenty of people who dabble in the likes of Photoshop and InDesign, it takes a special talent to both have the creative strategy and hard skills to produce the kind of content that can take your brand to the next level. 

This is also an example of the kind of function that could be broken down into multiple roles depending on individual skills and company needs. For instance, you might have a UX Designer, Graphic Designer, Illustrator and Animator. 

Median Annual Salary: $57,500

Content Marketer

This is the yin to the designer’s yang. A strong brand identity is equal parts striking visual appeal and resounding voice. Not only should your Content Marketer possess foundational skills such as copywriting, SEO knowledge and storytelling, but should also have a strategic mindset in order to direct the overall content pipeline, maintain an editorial calendar and have the understanding to drive both traffic and resonate with your target audience. 

Median Annual Salary: $70,000

Web Developer

If you’re lucky enough to find a true unicorn, you might be able to find someone with both design acumen and coding skills, but chances are each function will need to be fulfilled by separate roles. Every company of course needs to have a website, but this function should add much more than just that to your arsenal. The right person should be able to work with your content and design teammates to create truly engaging content and also provide technical know-how to a variety of other business functions such as automation and productivity hacks (i.e. Zapier and APIs) to help you run efficiently.

Median Annual Salary: $60,000

Product Marketing Manager

This is a very important part of your organization as she/he will become a bridge between your marketing and product teams, which is essential for establishing effective growth tactics, especially for software companies. This person is a natural born collaborator and able to translate sometimes complex ideas and relay them back to the rest of the marketing team. 

Median Annual Salary: $100,000

PR Manager 

Content, brand and messaging is only as strong as its reach. That’s why the last few hirers should focus on distribution. Earned Media in particular is an exceptional distribution strategy, especially for cash-strapped organizations who can’t throw tons of money at ad campaigns. However, a strong PR Manager doesn’t just get you a few press clippings, but helps you establish key relationships, guide your corporate communications strategy and possibly even help you out in other areas such as event management. 

Median Annual Salary: $65,000

Social/Digital Media Specialist

This is another example of a function that can/should be broken into multiple roles, but for the sake of this exercise, we’ll keep it concise. This person should have the ability to help you grow with both organic and paid tactics. For example, growing your social channels with awesome content, while also maintaining your ad campaigns in the likes of Adwords, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. While everyone within your team should have at least some data savvy, this role in particular needs to have a strong analytical foundation. 

Median Annual Salary: $50,000

Before we make our final tally, let’s once again establish that this is simply a baseline estimate that can be constructed in a variety of ways. This breakdown was made with the intention to create a moderate cost balance, considering both the number of roles and the cost of each. 

The grand total annual cost of an in-house marketing team comes to $542,500. In order to keep it simple, we’re going to overlook the additional overhead costs associated with employing a team, just as we’ll forego any extra fees on the agency retainer that might arise. However, your HR costs will greatly outweigh any extenuating agency costs, such as travel reimbursement. 

Now, to make the comparison let’s take the average retainer fee of a one-year full-service agreement, which offers a similar scale of skills and functions. We calculate this to be $25,000 a month, coming to $300,000 a year.

By doing some simple math, we see that the agency will cost $242,500 less than an in-house team. Let’s say you decide to build a light version of your in-house team by consolidating a few roles and hiring a few promising juniors, and can shave about $150,000 annually. This brings the total to $392,500, or $92,500 more than a full-service retainer. 

There are certainly pros and cons with both approaches, but for an organization looking to implement a proper marketing strategy for the first time, the agency model is a viable cost-saving option to get started quickly and effectively, especially when considering recruiting time and costs. 

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