5 Reasons Why Do-it-Yourself Marketing Can Actually Hurt Your Business

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Entrepreneurs, by nature, are do-it-yourself people. Not a bad thing. While that trait may serve you in many areas there’s one where it actually works against you: Marketing. Here’s five reasons why.

1)   You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know.

While you might feel savvy after reading a couple marketing books or listening to a savvy marketing guru, it doesn’t compare to working with a qualified team or consultant with great experience and a great record. You simply don’t know what you don’t know, and if you do it yourself, what you don’t know will hurt you. Like having a tag-line that makes no sense, or sends a wrong message. Like pouring money into SEO or your website when the better focus is Content Marketing and improved organic search. Like not realizing you need video. Or having a self-produced video that’s so unprofessional it works against you. The list goes on.

2)   A Business Owner Can’t Be Objective.

Passionate business owners tend to be absorbed by their business—an advantage when it comes to DIY marketing, right? Not really. Effective marketing starts with an unbiased perspective. To be successful at marketing, business blemishes must be seen clearly. As a business owner you just don’t have that objectivity. If you read Ken Segall’s book Insanely Simple, about his working with Apple, you’ll read how Steve Jobs was proven wrong time and time again by his more objective and talented outside team who created some of the most iconic and successful marketing ever done.

3)   The Best Marketing Isn’t About A System or Formula.

As more small business owners attempt to save money by trying to do their own thing, more self-proclaimed marketing gurus are popping up on the Internet with their “Amazing Profit-Making Marketing” systems. They all sound amazing and they all claim amazing results. They even have amazing testimonials. But every business is different, and a cookie-cutter, systematic approach is not the most effective way to market a business or product. While an “Amazing Profit-Making Marketing System” sounds amazing, the ones making the most money from them are usually the ones getting you to spend money on them.

4)   Great Marketing Requires Talent.

Great marketing is part science, part art. Yet, the creative part often gets lost or diminished in this ever-advancing tech world. Focused, creative talent is the ingredient that helps communicate your message and persuade your prospects to buy. It’s not easy to find, but if you do it’ll make a huge difference.

5)   DIY  Doesn’t Really Save Money.

Because you’re not spending money on outside resources you might think you’re saving tons of money with a DIY approach. Just remember this…it’s not just what you spend, it’s what you spend and get back on what you spend.

Great marketing will get you back more, and sometimes significantly more, than what you spend. So, how do you get great marketing? You find and hire great marketing people, like Steve Jobs did, like Nike’s Phil Knight did, and like every successful business owner does. And, they didn’t just do it when they were big successful companies with huge marketing budgets. They did it from the very beginning of their companies, only months after they incorporated.

You also have to factor in what your time is worth. It’s not cheap. If you kept track of every minute you spent trying to do it yourself and applied a dollar value to that, you’d be surprised at the expense. Also realize that every expensive minute you spend fumbling with something you don’t do great is taking away valuable time and talent from something you do do great. That’s another expense.

To sum up I’ll end with a simple quote from someone who’s interviewed hundreds of small business owners and knows what it takes to be successful:

“Business success is all about finding the right outside service providers and using them wisely. You can’t do it all yourself.” — Anita Campbell, Founder of Small Business Trends

DIY Photo via Shutterstock

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John Follis John Follis heads up Big Idea Video, creator of short format, high concept video that captivates and persuades prospects. According to Forbes, 76% of marketers invest in video and make it their #1 marketing strategy. John Follis honed his talents as Creative Director and Co-founder of Follis/DeVito/Verdi, one of Madison Avenue’s most successful, award winning ad agencies.

67 Reactions
  1. It is important to remember that there are some marketing issues that are worth paying a professional for. We hire marketing professionals all the time to help expand our business. Not only do professionals know more about how to accomplish specific goals, but they do save on opportunity cost. Let them do what they are best at and we can do what we are best at.

    • Great comment, Brent. Thank you. It’s always great to hear from a business owner or manager who can speak positively about their direct, personal experience of benefiting from working with outside professional marketing services.

  2. In principle, I like what this says, however how does a small start-up with limited funds find the right marketing “professional”. For the past 6 months I paid a highly recommended PR agency $5k/mo. They gave me all sorts of attention before I started paying, then they handed me off to a junior who did nothing but have me send free samples to bloggers. Web traffic barely increased. I paid $1500/mo to an SEO firm with similar results. Everybody gives great pitches and tells you how everyone else will rip you off, but where does one find a great marketing professional for a reasonable cost which a start-up can afford? I’m in Toronto btw.

    • Glad you shared this because it’s a huge issue for many small businesses owners. Like you, they realize they need help, but they aren’t sure where to look or who to trust. And, they don’t really want to jump into bed with someone they’ve never worked with whose gonna charge a pricey monthly retainer. It’s the very reason I created Marketing Therapy: http://www.follisinc.com/therapy.htm

  3. Thanks, John!
    I like this one the best; “A business owner can’t be objective.”

    So true.

    I know that for me, I’m so close to my business I can’t see it like others see it.

    But, a marketing expert can.

    The Franchise King®

  4. Thanks for the pingback 🙂

  5. Hi John,

    You’re absolutely right…DIY is tempting to small business owners, but it rarely works out. #4 stood out to me…as a copywriter, I get many calls asking me to rewrite copy that a well-intentioned biz owner did herself. The copy just isn’t pulling in the readers, and after a while, the entrepreneur gets frustrated and quits writing. Save yourself time and frustration; hire a pro to handle the work you don’t have experience in so you can have more time doing what you do best…running your business!

    • Thanks, Emily. Because copywriting seems kinda easy — be it web copy, a tagline, or whatever — it’s often something that small biz owners believe they can do. And while they may even be decent writers, it doesn’t compare to the more effective and persuasive writing skills a talented copywriter. As you know, it’s not just about WHAT you say, it’s also HOW you say it. Here’s some of our effective tagline examples: http://www.follisinc.com/tagline.htm

  6. This is a great post John. I really resonate with the point you made about success not coming from a magic cookie cutter marketing system. I used to believe that. It’s been preached in my ear for so many years. However, after taking some time off and really rediscovering, redefining and recreating myself – I finally let go of that huge myth and began doing creating my own success my own way and I couldn’t be more happier.

    Thanks for sharing your insights with us. I appreciate it!


  7. John,

    Good stuff…

    Agree there isn’t a magic marketing system that provides the quick fix, ultimately marketing success is very much a systems approach, as Michael Gerber points out in the E-Myth.

  8. I am a small business person and I call on people everyday. I have no marketing budget and I follow a simple plan. I can’t hire someone who is more effective than my role as the owner calling on my target market. Since I formalized my process my revenue has soared. I don’t have to be objective to out sell my competition.

  9. Most times small business owners that are taking on their own marketing end up spending more money in the long run than they would have if they hired someone to help them out. I always make sure to equate it to if I tried to do their job on my own. Most of the time they will say the same thing. When you are looking to get something accomplished it is always better to use someone that does it consistently. This will lead to not only saving money, but typically better and quicker results.

  10. Awesome article! I have shared, tweeted, linked and pinned this article.

  11. “Like not nothing what you don’t know.”
    “Like having a lousy positioning statement.”
    “Like not knowing you need video.”

    Excellent piece. Thanks! Shared on Facebook and will share on the website, too. From your mouth to “client” ears.


  12. While most businesses try to start with DIY marketing, it is becoming less and less effective. With many of the best marketing and advertising platforms moving online, it is becoming far more difficult for DIY marketers to be effective. SEO is becoming a strong force in many industries, and most business owners can not execute SEO successfully. These business owners may even hurt the online rankings if they try and do SEO. Using a professional will ensure that a business owner does their business now harm, and that their marketing funds go to good use.

    • Good point, Scott. Fact is that many (if not most) small biz owners have a major trust issue when it comes to marketing and marketing experts. It’s understandable, actually. Yet, when they use that distrust and cynicism as a reason to do it all themselves and not keep seeking worthy, qualified http://bit.ly/AuaFHw marketing help, they end up seriously hurting their business, long term, in the ways described above.

  13. From my experience, and I own 2 businesses, is that marketing is a full time job in and of itself. You really need someone who is dedicated to working on it or it just won’t get done properly. Like you said John, there are things you don’t know you don’t know in marketing. Unless you have a degree in Marketing or are staying on top of everything it’s best to just let a marketing company do it for you. As a business owner it’s best to just focus on what we know best and hire the rest out.

    • Thanks for the supportive comment, Joy.
      BTW, I checked out your website… very interesting business idea. And nice vid. Are you a marketing person?

      • Thanks John 🙂 I wouldn’t say I’m a true marketing person, I just love running the business (my preschool as well as the online business). My husband is in that industry and he helps out alot. Although there are some similarities, I do think that the marketing for an online business and an offline are pretty different. Many of the things we need for marketing the business is outsourced, like postcard distribution and flyers, etc.

  14. Thanks for sharing. The video was well done and it’s nice you have a spouse who knows marketing. Sounds like you’ve got it figured out 🙂

  15. While I agree that doing marketing by yourself can actually cost you money, I still suggest small business marketers to do it on their own. Why? You get to learn with every failure. Imagine if they have someone else take care of their marketing. This means that they are giving someone the command over their business and inevitably their sales. That for me is quite dangerous.

  16. All I can say to that is that hiring a respected marketing firm was one the first decisions Steve Jobs made after incorporating Apple. It was also one of his smartest.

  17. Thanks for the pingback!

  18. Appreciate the pingback!

  19. Appreciate the pingback 🙂

  20. Appreciate the pingback!!

  21. Thanks for the pingback!!

  22. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  23. Thanks for sharing, Cindy!

  24. Thanks for the repost 🙂

  25. Thanks for the repost!!

  26. Thanks Tulsa Marketing!

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