Small business owners eat, sleep, and breathe their businesses. They know them inside and out, with little slipping past their watch. With the recent weak economy, many small business owners are looking to cut costs and keep their overhead low. Oftentimes, one of the first areas to be targeted is the marketing department. Many small business owners feel that they can handle it themselves, because who knows the business better than them? Unfortunately, this is not the case for most businesses. Marketing is a tricky and delicate practice, that done incorrectly or inefficiently, can be ineffective or even harmful. Simply reading a few books, or listening to some online marketing experts is not enough. Here are a few of the most common pitfalls of DIY marketing.
- What you don’t know will hurt you. There is no substitute for education and experience when it comes to marketing. A DIY business owner could run an entire ad campaign with an ineffective message, targeting the wrong demographic, and not even know it. Professional marketers know how to design ad copy and taglines to attract your target customers. They also have experience tracking return on investment(ROI) and how different aspects of a campaign are performing.
- Small business owners may also try and manage their pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns on Google and Facebook. While they may see some success from their efforts, most do not. Professional marketers know how to design ads and target only those customers a business wants to attract. Professional marketers will also test multiple ads to analyze click-through rates and determine which are providing businesses the greatest ROI. A DIY business owner could waste a significant amount of money on PPC and not even realize it. Skills in analyzing and optimizing PPC campaigns could pay for a marketing professional by itself in cost savings and increased sales.
- Professional marketers will have an unbiased perspective of a business. This can be very valuable because most small business owners are engulfed in their business. An outsider will provide perspective that the business owner may not realize, and could provide excellent insight into the marketing strategy. As brilliant as Steve Jobs of Apple was, he had an entire team of outside marketing consultants that helped to provide unbiased insights and ideas into Apple’s marketing strategy. Without outside perspective, business owners can implement inefficient strategies based on their personal biases.
- While there is a lifetime of valuable marketing advice online, it still isn’t enough. Marketing isn’t a cookie cutter practice, and every business needs a different strategy. Professional marketers analyze businesses, and will let business owners know where they should focus their activities. A business owner may believe that they need to spend more money on their PPC campaign, when really they should be spending it on updating and optimizing their website. If a business’s PPC campaign is sending potential customers to a poor website or landing page, it will severely hurt their conversion rate or sales, and a professional marketer will be able to tell them that. They will also be able to tell them if their money is better spent on PPC, search engine optimization, or one of many other marketing techniques. Choosing the right mechanism for engaging customers can make all the difference.
- Many small business owners don’t fully understand social media or how to use it. Social media is quickly becoming one of the most powerful marketing tools, and not taking advantage of it could be detrimental to a business. Marketing professionals will help businesses develop and implement a social media strategy. Engaging customers and creating a following can be extremely beneficial for small businesses, and having a marketing professional develop these platforms can benefit the business for years to come.
While the initial purpose in performing DIY marketing is to save money, this desired outcome is not always achieved. Many small business owners fail to consider what their time is worth when engaging in DIY marketing activities. Would the owner’s time not be better spent creating value in other aspects of their business rather than marketing? DIY marketing takes business owners away from something they do great, to do something they may have marginal experience in.
The old adage in business is “you have to spend money to make money,” and this is particularly true in marketing. While they may realize some short term savings from not hiring a marketing professional, they might be sacrificing even greater long-term profits. The real test for a small business is ROI. Tracking ROI will provide small businesses with an accurate determination of whether or not a marketing professional is worth it, and many have found out it definitely is.
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