If your company needs to draft legal papers, you’ll hire a lawyer. At year-end, you’ll hire an accountant to ensure your financials are in order. When it’s time for a haircut, you’ll go to a barber.
You could do any of those jobs yourself… but why would you? Why spend your time outside your range of expertise? Why take the risk?
Marketing is truly at the heart of what makes a business succeed. For some reason though, people get caught in the DIY marketing trap.
Here are five key points to remember when deciding whether or not you should outsource your marketing efforts:
1. Avoid the free technology trap
From websites to email marketing to social media, many business owners rejoice in the fact that these services are free. The truth though is that technology is only one small factor in the creation of a great website, or any other marketing material for that matter. Strategy, creativity and marketing experience form the basis of success / failure in these areas and I assure you that these are not included with any free trial.
2. Remember that free is never really free
Although DIY marketing may be free of hard costs, it will inevitably take key people off core company activities. Twitter is free, but, to be successful, it takes a lot of time and effort. Before beginning any internal efforts, it is essential to forecast the amount of time it will cost your business and whether this trade-off will pay off.
Even if you are fortunate to hire a talented communications expert internally, odds are that you will still need to pay someone to actually write or design your work; why not work directly with a person or organization who can strategize, coordinate and produce your materials?
3. Plan for long-term success
Companies constantly start website resource sections, email marketing campaigns or social media accounts that will peter out within months, weeks or days. As people change roles or business picks up, core priorities take over and marketing efforts screech to a halt. In the end, this will actually inflict more brand-harm than was achieved in the first place, and the initial investment of company time will be lost forever.
4. Stick to your Hedgehog
In the must-read business book Good to Great, author Jim Collins asserts that the Hedgehog Principle is one of the key things that separates great companies from the pack. Hedgehogs are simple creatures that know one big thing and stick to it: when attacked they duck, cover and raise their spikes. ‘Good’ companies are more like foxes: they are crafty, they attack from all angles and they’re extremely persistent. Yet, they cannot crack the hedgehog’s inherited advantage.
The principal states that organizations should only do:
1) What they can be great at
2) What they can make money at
3) What they are passionate about
In top performing companies, the Hedgehog Principle is not a vision or strategy, but an understanding. Great companies set their goals and strategies based on a deep awareness of what they are meant to do, not out of bravado or short-term income. The key takeaway is to find and stick to your hedgehog, and find a company whose hedgehog fills gaps in yours.
5. Make the choice to invest in passion
Ask yourself this question: when was the last time you sent a piece of communication to your clients and prospects? If it wasn't in the last 30 days, there is an issue. If you are managing this area yourself, you’ve probably spent countless hours trying to figure out the ten steps involved to create, send and track an e-newsletter. It would have been a lot simpler to take on the one step of managing the fact that it needs to go out.
I've seen too many times where the client assesses the situation and believes they can, with all their responsibilities, still manage to consistently, professionally produce marketing materials they are proud of. Save yourself the frustration; invest in people who dedicate their lives to this specific craft. Harness your passion and let others harness theirs.
In the end, making the choice to outsource marketing, accounting or any other facet of your business comes down to whether or not it’s a wise investment. I have always found that the Good to Great principles made sense to me: If I do what I’m best at, what I’m passionate about, it shows in the work I do. I truly urge you to find your hedgehog and, whenever possible, avoid focusing your time and effort in areas that are not.