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HIRING CONTRACTORS VS DIY MARKETING: WHAT IS YOUR TIME WORTH?

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JUN 17, 2011 @ 01:11 PM   By Kern Lewis, Contributor for Forbes.com

Marketing is one of those tasks that a lot of small businesspeople think they can, or simply must, do themselves. They have to control expenses somehow, and marketing through an agency always seems incredibly expensive. So they opt do it themselves.

I see two basic scenarios most often:

    • The owner spends his or her days selling and delivering the product or service they offer, and their evenings “doing marketing.” That could be social media, writing up flyers and brochures, tweaking a home-made website, etc.
  • The owner assigns an office manager or other administrative type to “run marketing.” The task isn’t rocket science after all, and paying your $30/hour manager to do it in their spare time seems a cost-effective option.

This DIY Marketing impulse is especially attractive in the 21st Century, with multiple “cheap” online marketing tools available.

Neither of these approaches is truly cost-effective, and most businesspeople would actually admit that. But they hate writing checks to vendors with no guarantee of return. A prospective client said that in so many words to me just a month ago. “I hate spending money on marketing,” he said. “I hire a programmer, and I immediately get 8-10 hours of programming done daily. I buy software, and it goes to work that minute.” This owner of a multi-million dollar enterprise is still executing his marketing himself in the evenings. So, we explored the following questions to assess whether that approach is truly very efficient. See how you would answer them:

What is your time worth?
You are the inspiration and motive force behind the business, but even you are better at some tasks that others. You must dedicate the bulk of your hours to those tasks, and let other do everything else. If you are a $200/hour lawyer or programmer, and you spend just 10 hours monthly on marketing, that equates to $2000 “spent” on a marketing person who is in no way a specialist.

It is equally true that you hired your office managers or administrators because they were good at those tasks. What makes you think this translates into effective marketing program management? Marketing is not rocket science, but it does take a lot of attention (frequency, reach, competitive intelligence, among a host of other goals) and doing it “when time allows” is not efficient.

What is one extra customer worth?
In crafting a marketing budget to support paying outside vendors or contractors, consider how much extra business needs to be generated to break even on the investment. You may find you don’t need a lot of extra business to transform marketing “expenses” into a positive investment.

Are you shooting the messenger?
DIY Marketing is usually unfocused and inconsistent. It generates tepid results, if any. So the businessperson get frustrated with “marketing” and neglects it. Wrong move. Bad marketing is a waste of money. Good marketing is highly profitable. Outside resources that specialize in the task will give you a better-than-even shot at success.

Are you rigorous in your selection of marketing resources?
Hiring relatives and pals is not the way to go. Your marketing cannot be a jobs program for friends and family. You must hire a track record of success. Explore in detail the results of the contractors you are considering.

Do you maintain focus?
Patience is key. Marketing is a long-term play that builds awareness and lead generation over time. And you should select only enough channels of communication to work consistently to achieve the frequency and reach you need among your target audience. DIY marketing is terrible at this, because you don’t have the time to do it right (just being honest here!)  I do not recommend immediately starting to spend 10% of your revenue on marketing. I do advise starting the process of testing new options and building to an appropriate budget level for your industry. You will have tracking mechanisms in place to assess what is driving in your new or repeat business, so you will be able to figure out what works and doesn’t work.

The bottom line on DIY marketing
Too many small businesspeople consider their time “free.” If there is something they can do instead of paying someone else, they have saved that money. So, they load themselves down with too many tasks that do not fit their skill set and soak up what is left of the downtime they need to re-energize. This also distracts them from focusing on what they do best, whether it is programming, designing, counseling, creating or simply delivering fantastic one-on-one customer service.

Your time is not free. You need to be jealous of it, and spend it wisely.

Call CreativEnergy today to discuss how we can save you time:
239-303-4673.

www.CreativEnergynj.com

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