Business

Don't do your own marketing

Outsourcing the marketing aspects of a business will save time and hassle.

Read time 5min 50sec

Marketing. It's a word that strikes fear into the hearts of many business owners. It conjures up images of posh ad agencies and achingly trendy creatives; and meetings peppered with jargon like 'integrated campaigns', 'sticky strategies' and 'monetising your online presence'. Shudder.

All this can understandably make you run away very fast - and rather try to handle your marketing yourself. Tempting as this is, just don't do it. Why?

1 You'll look unprofessional. Don't let amateurish or sub-standard marketing undermine your company's reputation, products and services. Chances are you are not marketing experts and what you think is cool, might be a real no-no. (Check out YourLogoMakesMeBarf.com for some examples...) Rather get a professional to do it - whether it's a marketing consultant to help you with strategy, a designer to do a good corporate ID or a writer/proofreader to ensure your copy is clean. The 'spar bath's' company that advertised in my local newspaper really should have done the latter. Yes, some clients will judge you based on poor grammar.

2 Spending time on activities that aren't your core offering is a waste. Rather focus on what you do well. Maybe you're a techie. Maybe you have a financial background. You can't be a specialist in everything. So do what you do well, and outsource the rest. A good marketing person or creative will be able to complete the task much faster than you will anyway.

3 Just because you know your products inside out doesn't mean you'll be the best person to market them. In fact, usually this counts against you. Often because people know their industry so well, they assume a basic level of knowledge in their potential customers that just isn't there. Get someone from outside your business to do your marketing and they'll turn complex, technical or jargon-filled content into easily understandable messages.

4 Are you abreast of the latest marketing trends, channels and opportunities? Unless you have an up-to-date Google profile, are tweeting regularly, know what ORM stands for and have a mobi site, you'll benefit from bringing in someone whose job it is to know what's going on in the marketing world. They'll be able to suggest tools and media that you've never even heard of.

Spending time on activities that aren't your core offering is a waste. Rather focus on what you do well.

Jo Duxbury, Freelancentral

5 Tempting as it is to get your daughter's friend to design your company logo and ask your husband's secretary's brother to build your Web site, don't do it. Find someone with a good reputation who is well connected in the marketing industry. Keep your relationship with them professional - that way there are no hurt feelings when you don't like their first concepts or if there are disputes about payment. Using a marketing consultant who is well connected can also give you access to great service providers.

6 You won't need to sell a kidney to hire a marketing consultant, and they don't only work with large corporates. Freelance marketers love working with SMEs (provided you have a reasonable budget!) because there's usually more scope to do interesting things, decisions are made quickly and results can be seen fast. Freelance marketers also have none of the overheads that drive agency fees up. Have an initial meeting and explain what your budget is. That way they will be able to tell you how much they can achieve for you up front. And you'll be paying for their productive hours, not the time they spend chatting around the watercooler and checking Facebook. Plus, bear in mind that hiring a professional will mean everything is done properly the first time, which will save you money. Good marketing will increase your turnover and pay for itself.

7 Using an outside marketing person is great for accountability. They'll want to achieve good results for you because their reputation is on the line. And if you like what they do, you'll no doubt continue using them and possibly refer other people to them too. Make your marketing consultant accountable (perhaps offer a bonus if they achieve a certain goal within a specified period) and that way, you can make your marketing spend really work. If it all goes horribly wrong, you just terminate your agreement with them - no notice period or CCMA to worry about.

8 You can pass the hassles of sourcing and dealing with marketing suppliers to someone else. Do you really want to spend days finding the best SEO company; briefing copywriters and proofreading their work; sourcing pop-up banners and checking print jobs on press? Thought not. Rather than handling everything yourself, outsource to a marketing consultant who will be your single point of contact for a whole raft of suppliers who you need never deal with yourselves. They'll know who to use and what questions to ask them. Plus, they'll also have a good idea of the going rate for products and services.

9 Marketing is not just about throwing together a logo, Web site and a brochure. Do you have a marketing strategy? Know which industry sectors you are targeting over the next quarter? Are your sales materials aligned with your overall company mission? Do you know what your USPs are and can you give an effective elevator pitch in 60 seconds? For your marketing to be effective you'll need a strong strategy, and from there you can draw up and implement a rollout plan. Marketing need not be expensive, and these days most marketing consultants will advise against print advertising and spending too much on paper-based materials like brochures. There are many more affordable, effective things you can do.

10 Lastly, bringing in a contracted marketing consultant means bringing in fresh ideas to your business. Consultants usually work with several clients at a time and you can benefit from what they learn from these other projects too. You won't get this cross-pollination of ideas if you have an internal marketing person.

Have any of these points rung bells with you? Marketing doesn't need to be daunting, expensive or complicated. Just please don't try it yourself... that's the reason Comic Sans is still seen everywhere. By outsourcing to a pragmatic, results-oriented marketing consultant who can work within your budget and objectives, your marketing can really boost your business.

* Jo Duxbury has provided a platform for marketers to find over 4 000 industry freelancers since she launched her company, Freelancentral, in early 2006.

Jo Duxbury
founder of strategy agency Peppermint Source.

Jo Duxbury spent nine years as a freelance and full-time ‘suit’ in various communications agencies in London. She returned to Cape Town in 2004, and after freelancing at an ad agency, spotted a gap in the market for an online space for freelancers and clients to find each other. She took the plunge into entrepreneurship and launched www.freelancentral.co.za in early 2006. January 2010 saw Duxbury launching Peppermint Source, a spin-off of Freelancentral that offers full-service outsourced marketing to companies that don’t have the time, skills or staff to handle their marketing in-house. Duxbury is inspired by simplicity, clever and beautiful design, and optimistic people who work to make their dreams happen. Find out more at her blog or follow her on Twitter.

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