Most small business owners, particularly in the start-up phase, tend to wear a lot of hats. They’re the “chief cook and bottle washer” of the operation, doing everything from product sales to hiring, staff training to accounting. As startups begin to grow, their owners typically begin to delegate and outsource, bringing in supervisors, hiring sales staff, or hiring an accounting firm. But for some reason, almost universally, people think they can handle their own marketing, so hiring a marketing expert or contracting with a marketing firm often comes dead last. And this is a huge mistake.
Just as with sales, accounting, training, and supervision, there is a significant amount of knowledge, training, skill, and experience required to successfully manage an organization’s marketing. Small business owners who attempt to “go it alone” in their marketing fail consistently, throwing thousands of dollars away and wasting precious time in the process.
Small business owners do sometimes have to “do it all.” But that’s hardly the same as “doing it right.” Today, we offer five topics to consider when you’re even contemplating of doing your own marketing.
Number Five: Making Assumptions is Bad Business.
Assuming that “if you build it, they will come,” is a huge mistake. This applies to stores, service businesses, websites, you name it. The best product in the world is incapable of turning a profit if no one knows about it. The same goes for assuming you know how to market your product. Just as it’s a mistake to expect a great product to sell itself, assuming you know how, where, when, and to whom to market your product or service is another costly misstep.
Number Four: Throwing It All Against The Wall To See What Sticks Is Not A Valid Plan.
Trying a little bit of everything is like wagering your entire business on a blindfolded dart player. The “throw it at the wall and see what sticks” method may be good for pasta, but it absolutely doesn’t work for marketing. Professional marketing experts can analyze your competitors’ marketing efforts across various media and see what is (and isn’t) working so you don’t have to guess. Likewise, choosing just one marketing avenue and putting all of your efforts into that single campaign is an equally costly mistake. Your target market may all be radio listeners, but they don’t all listen to the same station at the same time. You have to diversify without crossing the spectrum all the way to the dartboard mentality. A pro will know how to find that balance for you.
Number Three: No One Likes A Copycat.
Successful marketing efforts are unique and attention grabbing. They engage your audience and are memorable enough to encourage potential clients to interact with you. This means doing what everyone else is doing, or worse, running a copycat campaign, just won’t cut it. Just as you know your business best, a quality marketing team knows theirs. The right team will come in, learn your organization, listen to you, and build a one-of-a-kind campaign that’s right for your needs.
Number Two: Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood.
In short, listen before you speak. The marketing equivalent: research, poll, ask, and survey to get information from customers and people within your target demographic before “speaking.” What do your customers and potential customers want? What do they like and dislike about your products and services? Where do they get their product information? How do they see you? If you don’t know, you need to find out.
On the flip side, listen to those who would handle your marketing for you. Just as in nearly any industry, some are genuine professionals who know their field, while others are looking to turn a profit off of you. Listen and perform your due diligence before you hire anyone.
Number One: Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should.
Just because it’s possible for you to do your own taxes doesn’t mean you should. A pro will often get much better results. The same holds true for marketing. Sure, you know how to post to Facebook and you can put together a flyer. But if you’re marketing more than a lemonade stand, that’s just not enough. The right marketing team can pay for itself many times over in sales and growth for your business. Look around and hear what the experts have to say.