You wouldn't attempt to fill your own cavity, and you wouldn't try to conduct your own home inspection before purchasing a house--you'd likely hire trained professionals to take on these tasks. Yet many small-business owners take it upon themselves to try to manage their marketing efforts. It's likely many of them can muddle through their marketing activities with some success, but what is also likely is that their efforts are not nearly as effective as they could be.
Here are five good reasons why you should leave your marketing to the professionals.
The old saying goes that "you don't know what you don't know." Well, if you haven't spent years in a dedicated marketing role, there's a great deal you don't know about marketing.
In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell proposes that it takes 10,000 hours dedicated to a specific field in order to become an expert at it. Even if Gladwell is only half right, you are likely a few thousand hours shy of being a marketing expert.
Marketing is a process, and the more times you apply that process to a variety of business challenges, the more adept you become at solving marketing problems. Be it identifying marketing opportunities, rebranding or developing a corporate brochure, an experienced marketing professional has been there before and knows how to get results.
- Skill Set
Marketing is a broad field that requires a wide range of skills. Strategy requires analytical thought and problem solving. Research requires an ability to sift through data and identify what is meaningful. Communications calls for an ear for language and an eye for visuals. While not all marketing professionals are proficient in all these areas, they likely specialize in at least one and can bring other professionals to the table to assist in the areas where they don't specialize.
- Core Competencies
If you run an HR consulting firm, odds are your core competencies are related to human resources--that is the area in which you're educated and experienced. Your core competencies are what your clients value in you and what they pay you for. Therefore, time spent on tasks unrelated to your core competencies is time not focused on maximizing your revenue. That's not to say that you should avoid all tasks that don't utilize your core competencies (business development would be one example of an exception), but any task that you can outsource--such as doing your taxes, administrative work, and, yes, marketing--should be outsourced to someone whose core competencies lie in those areas, allowing you to focus on your areas of expertise.
- External Perspective
There's nothing harder than marketing yourself. It's kind of like trying to be your own therapist--it's very hard to do from an internal vantage point. Marketing requires an external, objective and skilled observer to accurately evaluate your business, your marketing strategy and your marketing materials. Without this external perspective, you may be focusing your marketing on areas of your business that you think are exceptional but aren't, and missing the areas where you truly are outstanding.
- Strategic Approach
Small-business owners who attempt to manage their own marketing activities often do so in a piecemeal fashion, moving from tactic to tactic without ever developing a comprehensive strategy. This is analogous to driving without a map--you'll get somewhere, but it might not be exactly where you want to go.
You may decide to place an ad (which you created yourself), start a Facebook page (because you heard that's what other businesses are doing), or try to get an article published in your local newspaper. While these activities may provide some benefits, without an overarching strategy, the benefits are likely to be short-lived. A comprehensive strategy provides the business owner with a roadmap to follow. This roadmap allows you to create synergies in your marketing by ensuring that you are conveying a clear and consistent message that is integrated throughout all your marketing activities. A marketing professional will bring this kind of strategic, big-picture approach, resulting in more effective and more efficient marketing efforts.
So remember, the next time you're considering developing your marketing strategy yourself, whether it be drafting a questionnaire or designing a logo, think about the last time you visited a dentist to have a cavity filled and ask yourself, "Should I really be doing this myself?"
Arie Opps is President of Illuminate Marketing, a Toronto-based marketing firm specializing in marketing research, branding, and marketing strategy. Illuminate's clients range from sole proprietors to Fortune 500 companies and include business owners, marketing managers and directors who require a reliable marketing outsourcing solution when their departments are overworked or understaffed. To contact Arie or learn more visit www.illuminatemarketing.ca.