Monday, March 28, 2011

A Sensible Approach to Marketing: DIY vs. Handing It Off

Marketing is a vast subject and the very thought of it can feel overwhelming, whether you want to do it yourself or hire it out. There are many books and web sites around that purport to help you through this quandary.  Some are more useful than others. I have recently looked at Guerilla Marketing, a famous marketing series for small businesses that began in the 80’s and has become a publishing semi-empire for its creator, Jay Conrad Levinson. He has a lot of good tips, but he does the marketing community a disservice by insisting that a layperson can DO IT ALL. Excuse me – I’m a designer and I know that clients do not have the expensive programs required, the knowledge to use them or the training that is needed to create marketing pieces that work. That’s why I have a business that’s operated and grown for 30 years.

There is a reason why I have an accountant – I could theoretically do my taxes myself, but it would take days and I would screw it up. Professional services are well worth it, and as a professional service, naturally I recommend hiring someone to help you. Unless you have a strong background in marketing yourself, you will be pitted against an army of professionals who will eat your lunch. Let those who have a passion for it (like you have a passion for what you do) do what they do best.

However, hiring a professional does not mean that you can sit back passively and let someone else steer your boat. You will need to give direction and keep the goals and vision of your business front and center.  

When you decide it’s time to hire marketing help, make sure you have done your homework, and know what you want for an outcome and what level of resources you can invest. Interview any firm you’re considering thoroughly before committing to anything. Get a detailed proposal and ask a lot of questions. Make sure whoever you work with is reputable and has a track record. You can spend the farm on marketing with no result if you are not careful. But when you partner with a great firm, you will get the best value for the investment of your time, energy and money.

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