How Much Does a Small Marketing Team Cost?

November 9, 2022

We provide outsourced marketing services, and clients often question what it would cost to build a comparable in-house team. This article provides research on salary ranges, technology costs and appropriate expectations for a small team, but let’s start with the big picture:

The cost of a three-person marketing team with average salaries would start at $255,000 per year.

What is included in this calculation?

This estimate includes a Marketing Director, a Digital Marketer and a Graphic Designer.

I have used the mid-range salary because employees will be required to wear multiple hats, and in my experience, small companies lack the internal training and leadership for an entry-level marketer to be successful in their role. I have included the base salaries and a 25% increase to cover taxes and benefits, as outlined in the chart below.

The cost of a small marketing team's salaries.


The estimate also includes the basic technology needed for this team to be successful: Apple Air laptops (3 yr lifespan, purchasing 1/yr), Microsoft Office subscriptions, Adobe subscriptions, two social media management subscriptions and a stock art subscription. This totals $6,748/year which is not a huge expense relative to the salaries.

Marketing technology prices

What can you expect from this team?

This team should be able to handle the basic marketing needs of most small businesses, including email marketing, social media, digital advertising, printed materials and ongoing website content management.

What isn’t included?

Advertising or Printing Expenses – This estimate is limited to the expense of the internal team to manage an organization’s marketing. All advertising, printing and third-party expenses would be on top of this calculation.

Web Development – While the Marketing Director and Digital Marketer should be able to update the content of the website on an ongoing basis, most websites require technical maintenance that will go beyond their skill level. This is one of the more commonly outsourced roles, because it is highly specialized and rarely required on a full-time basis (the common exception being a web-based business). For organizations with a large volume of ongoing content management, it might make sense to hire a Web Developer who can also maintain the technical side of the website.

Copywriting – The Marketing Director should be able to handle the copywriting for most basic advertising pieces (although solid writing skills are becoming increasingly more difficult to find). Organizations that require longer form writing or thought leadership for blogs, proposals, white papers or brochures will require someone with a more specialized writing background and possibly also industry-specific experience.

Professional Photography or Videography – This estimate assumes that employees will use their smartphones to capture digital photos and video, along with a variety of stock art. Professional photography equipment isn’t very expensive if there is a frequent need for it in-house. For infrequent needs, it can easily be outsourced to experts with specialized training and equipment. Videography equipment is much more expensive than photography equipment and quickly becomes dated, but it can be rented in many locations. The computers used for video production would need to be upgraded to include more RAM, storage and better graphics cards. The use of professional equipment for photography and videography requires specialized training and experience.

A Project Manager or Project Management Software – Most small teams do not have a professional Project Manager or a project management tool, so it is not included in this calculation. Having a professional project management tool and a trained staff member can help with organization, prioritization, estimating and productivity reporting. Sometimes, individual team members will either find a free version of a tool online or create their own system using everything from whiteboards to spreadsheets to post-it notes. These usually help with priorities and organization, but individual employees will rarely self-select time tracking or anything that produces performance reporting.

Training or Continuing Education – This estimate does not include the cost of any ongoing education. Digital platforms evolve so rapidly that it will be important to find staff members who are inherent learners who are self-motivated to stay abreast of the latest technologies. This is especially true for the Marketing Director and Digital Marketer. Many employees appreciate employers who cover the costs of certifications and ongoing education, some of which are “free” outside of the time commitment required.

What would a highly experienced team cost?

We also thought it would be fun to calculate the cost of a “Dream Team.” This would vary from one organization to the next, of course, but here’s a big number, with the breakdown below.

A six-person, highly experienced team would cost almost $1,000,000/year.

This team would include the following:

  • All of the staff and technology listed above with all staff at high-end salaries
  • A Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) instead of a Marketing Director
  • Additionally, a copywriter and a project manager, and a web developer along with their computers and basic software subscriptions

Medium team salaries

What does your organization need?

If you are trying to estimate the cost of a team, it’s important to start with your marketing plan to determine the skills that will be needed to implement it effectively. While the teams we have described here might work for some organizations, you may have your own unique combination of needs that requires different or additional resources.

Would you like some marketing help?

If you would like to discuss outsourcing your marketing to an experienced and highly-specialized team, please reach out for an initial consultation. We have more than 25 years of experience developing and implementing marketing plans across a wide variety of industries and also provide fractional CMO services to work with existing teams.