The other day, as I sipped a satisfying beverage with a friend in a quaint cafe, they asked me, “What is your value as a marketer?” Like other service industries, marketing is something that many people feel they can do on their own. Some of those people might be right. The real question is, “Should you?” I want to see you succeed, which sometimes means you should forge ahead without a marketer like me.
Deciding between doing your marketing and hiring a professional can be difficult. I wanted to share some thoughts to help you make that call.
Before we get into that, you must understand that marketing is an investment, not an expense. It’s also not just some cliché that marketers have devised to steal your hard-earned money. It’s a fact. If you don’t believe that’s true, stop reading now.
Myth: Marketing IS UNecessary
You’ll always hear tales of savvy business owners who survive on word of mouth alone. They never had a website. They never paid a red cent to an advertiser. Their business thrives on referrals and a job well done. Though I don’t doubt the validity of these stories, they’re the exception, not the rule. Whenever I hear that, my spidey senses tingle and the questions brew like bitter Starbucks coffee.
1. How many clients can those businesses take a year?
If they can only take on one or two clients a year, it makes sense that they didn’t need to advertise. Who couldn’t get one or two referrals a year? Your business would have to be terrible not to get two referrals yearly.
2. What is their business? What are they selling?
Some things are inherently more “sticky.” One can never underestimate the power of timing. They will do fine without marketing if they’ve landed directly on a viral trend. Without some stimuli, the wave will eventually hit the shore, and there will come a time when they need marketing.
3. What do they consider marketing?
Marketing efforts include trade shows, handing out samples, setting up pop-up booths, signage, business cards, and websites. Some people go straight to advertising when they consider marketing spend. The truth is that anything you do to promote your business is marketing.
Reasons To Do Your Own Marketing
1. You Have No Budget, But You Have Time
I’m not saying you can’t do your marketing because you’d never believe me. The advent of the internet has made nearly everything you need to know about marketing available on the internet. If you’re bootstrapping your business, you should do your marketing.
Nothing is stopping you from getting as well-versed as a marketing professional. The caveat to this is time. Marketing strategies, researching methods that would best suit your business, exploring target markets, and testing product viability take ages to learn appropriate techniques to test and implement.
Marketers never stop learning. After their degrees have been conferred, they’re out there discovering the newest technology and strategies. The only thing that stays constant is change.
No matter which routes you take, marketing is an investment. Doing it yourself means you’re investing your time. And a lot of it. At the beginning of your business, there’s no choice but to get good at this.
2. You Find Engaging with Your Audience Fun
Some small businesses enjoy updating their social following on what they do throughout the day. Their products are diverse enough that the content creates itself. It’s a time investment that lends itself nicely to their workday.
Depending on what you’re selling, this type of content can lend incredible authenticity to your brand. It’s not overly produced, and it shows your company’s heart. People buy from people they like. If this is you, make it happen!
Hiring a professional requires more structure. A skilled content creator can make things look deceivingly organic even when they’re all shot in one day. But they’re not there to bring your following with timely updates. If you can post multiple stories, posts, and reels daily, do it!
3. You Know Your Business Better Than Anyone
Every business owner I’ve spoken to knows their business inside and out. They know their competitors, their product, and their business cycles. Small business owners can sell their products to anyone who will listen. You’re good at it. No one believes in what you do more than you. Your passion is contagious. That’s an element that no outside marketer can do better than you.
As a new marketer naively thinking I would be the saviour to small business owners, that was intimidating — until I learned a secret: Marketing is not sales. Say it with me now, “Marketing is not sales!”
I know people conflate the two often, and for good reason. They’re related. In small businesses, the sales and marketing team is usually a team of one, which only adds to the confusion.
You are the sales team as a small business owner without a sales rep. If you enlist an outside marketer, you must understand that they won’t sell to your client base. They bring the leads in, but it’s still your job to close them.
After some competitive analysis, a marketer will package your essence and present it in a nice little bow using the proper marketing channels. That part takes time to understand and master (It’s not always TikTok!). You know you and your product, but marketers bridge the gap between you and your target market.
4. You Have a Hard Time Letting Go
If you hire a marketer, it’s for one of two reasons:
- Your time is better served focusing on your core offerings.
- You don’t understand marketing and have no interest in understanding it.
If you’re not ready to commit the upfront time commitment necessary to bring a marketer up to speed and then let them roll with it, you should probably do it yourself.
Your business is your baby. I get it. You nurtured this thing from infancy to what it is today. You did that—no one else. Be proud!
It’s genuinely terrifying to trust someone else to help you with that. It’s your hard-earned money. Will they care about it like you do? Do they even understand it? Are they going to ruin it? These are all valid concerns.
If you’re not at the point of trusting a professional, then you should continue doing your marketing. There’s no point in hiring a professional if you’ll micromanage them along the way. When the leash is too tight, they will do exactly what you would and nothing more. Why pay a professional to be a “yes” woman? You won’t grow any faster doing the same things you’ve been doing, so what are you spending your money on?
Reasons to Hire a Professional
Okay, I’ve probably convinced you to do it yourself, right? What the heck am I thinking… this budding marketing agency owner is telling people NOT to hire them. That’s what makes me different. I care more about you getting results than getting your business, so now I’ll get to why you hire a marketer like me.
1. You Have a Marketing Budget
This is huge! When you engage a marketing agency or a freelancer, you must understand that you’re paying for their expertise and time to create strategies and content. Still, you must also have a budget for advertising.
We’re in a pay-to-play market. Organic content (websites, blogs, social media) can get you there slowly, but it’s not what it was 10 years ago. Understand that you’re going to pay your marketer X, and you’re going to pay Google, Meta, TikTok, and an out-of-home advertiser, etc. Y.
If you only have enough budget to pay for someone to create organic content, re-evaluate if you should hire someone. You’ll be frustrated by your slow organic growth when you’re paying someone to help you, and so will your marketer.
2. Professional Marketers are Well-Versed in Multiple Strategies
Professional marketers are trained in historical, traditional marketing strategies and keep up to date on the newest technology and trends. As mentioned above, this takes a significant time investment.
Marketing professionals’ experience allows them to navigate challenges effectively, ensuring your marketing efforts are optimized for success. They also know when to test and when to cut and run from a failing strategy before you waste more of your money. A well-defined strategy increases the likelihood of achieving your marketing objectives.
3. Access to Specialized Skills:
Marketing encompasses various disciplines, including social media marketing, content creation, search engine optimization (SEO), traditional print marketing, out-of-home, and data analysis. Larger professional marketing agencies often have a team of specialists, each with expertise in specific areas, ensuring that your marketing campaigns receive comprehensive and well-rounded attention.
Small marketing agencies (like Lad & Lass Digital Consultants) are usually very niche. This can work well for you, but you must be clear in your intentions and goals. Finding the right niche marketer is your secret to success! We’re highly knowledgeable in specific areas that can skyrocket your business quickly because your business is what we do daily. For example, Lad & Lass is highly knowledgeable in interior design, real estate, and childcare industries. It’s simply your voice and your value proposition that we need to explore and define.
Tip: When vetting your marketer, ask a lot of questions! Marketers are not all created equal. We all have areas where we excel. Ask your prospective marketer about a strategy you considered and listen intently to their answers. An honest marketer will tell you if they don’t have experience in a particular area. A great marketer will come back to you after researching (on their dime) with the answer, and if this is not something they’re comfortable offering but think it’s right for you, they’ll direct you elsewhere.
4. Your Time Should Be Spent on Your Core Capabilities
I’ve sung your praises above, small business owners, but you must be honest. Your time is better spent taking care of your service and product offerings, not bringing in new clients. By hiring a professional marketing team, you free up your time and can focus on other core aspects of your business, such as product development and customer service.
Why bring clients in if you can’t support them when they’re there? When was the last time you felt like your cell phone provider of 10 years gave a hoot about your business? They’re so concerned with bringing in new business that they’ve let their current customer base down. It might work for them, but I doubt you want to do that to your clients.
Professionals can efficiently manage your marketing efforts, using resources efficiently and maximizing the return on investment.
5. A Reprieve from Marketing Fatigue
I’ve noticed that small business owners often experience marketing fatigue. You’ve been there and done that, and you don’t want to go there again. If you don’t immediately see results, you’re unwilling to stay the course due to time and bandwidth. It’s understandable, but the lack of consistency also kills your business.
You might not want to hear it, but you may need to tighten how you express your messaging and revisit things you’ve done in the past. Depending on the length of your customer journey, not seeing immediate results is not a reason to stop utilizing a channel as part of your overall marketing strategy.
A marketer will be honest with you about what efforts are difficult to measure (awareness marketing is notoriously difficult to attribute & measure). They’ll also create complex analytics to find what is working in a measurable way and things you may need to change about your offering.
Whether to do your marketing or hire a professional depends on you. Doing your marketing can be an excellent option when resources are limited, but you possess the time, enthusiasm, and willingness to learn. It allows you to intimately understand your business and create a personal connection with your audience. On the other hand, hiring a professional marketing team brings expertise, experience, and efficiency to the table. It frees you to focus on core business activities while benefiting from specialized skills and strategic planning.
Ultimately, the key lies in finding the right balance between taking charge of your marketing efforts and seeking professional assistance when necessary. By harnessing the power of both worlds, you can achieve effective marketing that drives your business toward success.
We’d be happy to offer our personalized, professional opinion if you are ready to outsource your marketing! Let’s connect!