I’ve worked with several small organizations and startups, as a contractor and as a full-time salaried employee working on their marketing strategy and execution. From producing sales material to handling media relations and creating beautiful and impactful promotional campaigns, I was often hire with the goal to build the brand, increase sales. So far so good.

Having a full-time marketing employee on the team can be premature and knowing when the right time to hire one in a fast-pace environment that changes daily can be tricky.

What I’ve come to learn is that it depends if your product, the idea behind the company was built as a result of a consumer problem or more as a result of something new you could bring to market.

If you know and understand what consumer problem you’re trying to fix then yes, you probably need a marketing person on your team. If you don’t, you may not be there yet and you still have homework to do before you start hiring more people.

Let me explain.

You have a great product that can do many cool things, too many cool things perhaps. You’re convinced your product will change the life of your customers. That’s great. But do you really understand deep down why people would spend money for your product or services? Have you talked to them? Have you clearly identified deep down the real issue and the best solution to fix it? Have people opened their wallet for your solution even if it’s not perfect? Do you know how and when to reach them ?

If you’re thinking that you’ve talked to many different people – experts in the industry, partners, and potential clients – and they all said you had a good idea so that must mean you understand their problem… you may still not be there yet. Maybe what you have is enthusiasm for an idea but if people have not opened their wallet yet, this may just stay at the idea stage.

If you have letters of intent from future clients, investors who funded your projects because they believe in it, then you’re on the right track.

Then a marketing person can be helpful. One that help build the brand around the problem and the company’s mission. One that can help build your business model around his/her knowledge of the target customer, build a strategy for your product launch on different markets. One that can help create sales material, content, websites, landing pages, etc. If you can find this very rare person that do it all from strategy, to design, to execution, by all-means, go for it!

Another route is to hire consultants and experts in their domain for your specific needs. You need more help with strategy than execution or the other way around? There are specialized experts that can help you.