Who Owns Marketing In Small Businesses

The owner? An agency? Freelancer? It's as important to get right as the marketing itself

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Part of the reason for creating Thirty Three Percent is because we wanted to help small businesses with marketing due to it becoming inaccessible to them. You had so many choices, they didn’t know where to start or understand all the over-complicated and frankly stupid amount of buzzwords associated with marketing.


As we started working with more and more businesses, we realised that not only were these problems worse than we realised, but also how marketing is managed or owned within small businesses is very inconsistent and often the real reason they are not successful. We thought we would explain some of the different ways a small business could manage its marketing and the pro’s and con’s of each, so you can make an informed decision.


Owner Led


This is where the owner takes control of marketing and often manages the occasional freelance resource or internal people to get the job done.



  • No one knows the business better. The authenticity of the marketing and understanding of the offering is very strong

  • They will be more committed to making it work than anyone else

  • They have the authority to make decisions and get things done



  • They are doing 100 other jobs running the business. Marketing is often an area that gets dropped first when it comes to time management

  • They are normally not an expert in marketing

  • They can know too much! Marketing becomes bloated with detail and a laser focus on what matters is lost

  • They are normally guilty of getting distracted and chasing the new shiny thing they have read about


For a lot of these problems, the answer will be putting in place a clear strategy and following a set of objectives and processes. Make marketing a part of the company routine, not a side project.


A junior member of staff


Many businesses will task a junior person with the job of managing marketing, often alongside another job they are doing.



  • They will understand the business, they are involved in multiple elements, so will have good knowledge

  • They will have a passion and likely want to make a success to further their career

  • Marketing will often be seen as a sexy or fun route for them, so they are more likely to make the time for it



  • Lack of experience in marketing

  • No authority to get things done and will often lack a decent budget or the skills to make the case for increasing it

  • If they need to utilise other resources (internal or external) they are less likely to be experienced in making this work effectively


One route to improving a lot of these issues is training. If you want to give this person the responsibility, then allow them to get proper training in marketing and let the knowledge they learn benefit the company.


Agency managed


A popular option for many growing small businesses is to outsource the marketing function to an agency, letting them act as the marketing manager, responsible for all marketing.



  • They will have a variety of skills within their business, so you will get a rounded approach to marketing. They are more likely to focus on the best elements for your business rather than the bits they do best

  • Coverage is better, you won’t have periods of inactivity when someone is on holiday or off sick

  • The shared knowledge from across different accounts will be good – best practice



  • This can be an expensive option and come with minimum commitments

  • They are not part of your business every day and the people working on your account could change often, so they won’t know the business well enough to truly market its uniqueness


One answer is to insist on an account manager that does not change, who will manage the other people for you.




This is where you use an individual that manages the different elements of marketing, working on a time basis, normally agreed as a set amount of hours or days a month.



  • Normally quite a cost-effective option, you can find good options online through networking groups, on platforms like UpWork or Fiverr or through local connections

  • They will be comfortable working in this style and likely working on a couple of other businesses in the same way, so learning can be shared



  • Even the most rounded freelancers won’t be experts in all elements of marketing, so you will be making a compromise on some of the things. For example, they might know Facebook really well but won’t be an SEO expert.


The best way of mitigating this issue is by focusing on what you need as a business and look for people that specialises in this. If you know LinkedIn is your number one priority, ensure they rock at this area first.


Having a marketing strategy will help which option you go with, it will help external people understand the business more and help internal resources stay focused.


The right answer? It will depend on your business. If you have willing and capable staff in the business, the junior route can work brilliantly. If the owner is committed to marketing, they could be the perfect power sponsor, but some businesses desperately need an external influence to help them, so a freelancer or agency will be better.


Pick the option that works best for your business and make sure that they have the backing of the business as a whole. If you need help with any of these areas, you just want to chat about your experiences or even take one of our courses, please do get in touch, we love helping small businesses master marketing and compete with the bigger brands.

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