The True Cost of Hiring and Losing Marketing Staff

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Cost of Hiring and Losing Marketing Staff

One of the factors to take into account when hiring in-house marketing staff is their typically short length of tenure. Just as you get used to them and they to their roles, they have left for greener pastures.

Headhunter Spencer Stuart carries out annual surveys on Chief Marketing Officers in 100 leading US consumer companies. Bearing in mind that these people take a while to get to these heights, they still do not stick around for long. The 2016 Survey shows that their median length of stay dropped from 35.5 months to 26.5 months between 2014 and 2015. Over the 12 months, 30 of the 100 CMOs were new hires: and of those, 33% were external hirings while only 20% were promoted from within.

So if the crème de la crème are only in post for a little over 2 years, what of people in smaller businesses where there is no career path for a marketer, just more of the same in a one-person post? You can bet that anyone in that situation is fettling up their LinkedIn profile and putting their CV out to marketing recruitment firms. They will aspire to move on upwards to more senior, more rewarding roles where the firm has a marketing hierarchy and an obvious career path.

In the hotbed that is the London digital jobs market, this trend is even more marked. The opportunities (and the inducements from headhunters) are too great to ignore. If you disbelieve me, consider the following.


The UK’s Forward Role Recruitment operation carried out a survey among a range of marketers in 2014, and the resulting data was stark.

Current Role

33% had been in their current role for less than a year;

27% for 1 to 2 years;

20% for 2-3 years.

Thus 60% had been there for less than 2 years and 80% for less than 3 years.

It is even more short-term than that. When asked about their last role, their length of stay had been shorter still.

Last Role

33% less than a year;

37% 1-2 years;

17% 2-3 years.

Thus two-thirds stayed less than 2 years, and 87% less than 3.

Asked if it is harmful to stay too long in a role, 70% said yes. When asked how long that was, 90% felt 3 years was too long.

The Real Cost

So looking at the sheer mathematics of what that means for your costs, at 20% or so hiring fees and assuming a relatively humble digital marketing manager getting £35,000 basic salary, you are burning up £7,000 every year or two. Not to mention the diversion of your management time in shortlisting, interviewing and haggling with new hires at regular intervals.

Don’t be misled by the headline figure for the salary either. Add in onboarding, provision of computers, national insurance, pension, perks, bonuses, office space etc. and in Year 1 your marketer is costing you in excess of £100,000 p.a.

With most other managers that is an investment that settles down in succeeding years as they bed in, and their contribution increases over time. The problem with marketing managers is that they rarely get time to mature into their role – they might get one round of annual activity under their belt (during which time they are prone to undo any initiatives that have been brought in by predecessors, just because) but as Year 2 opens it’s all too much like more of the same, and they get itchy feet. So you could be spending £100k most years: and enduring a merry-go-round of hiring and re-hiring with all the interruptions in actual work, and the lack of consistency, that go with it.

The Alternative

I must declare my interest – I run Hannon Digital, where we base our face-to-face digital media services to clients in London, but our business model is designed to provide a top-quality 24 hour service supplied by highly talented and qualified staff at a cost undreamed of by typical outsourced agency operations.

We base our Social Media Management in Mumbai, using our own directly-employed staff on web design, social network support, article writing, infographics, etc, as well as providing a Live Chat service. A sister company provides live customer service operators out of Johannesburg, South Africa.

So you typically get 7 people working on your account, for around £48,000 p.a., a fraction of the real cost of one in-house digital person – and it’s not even a fair comparison because that person will inevitably call upon external resources to do much of the heavy lifting, thus multiplying costs still further.

I’ll be happy to run through the package with you, and learn what you need for your business. I think you’ll find this to be an unbeatable digital alternative.