Do I Need to Hire an Inbound Agency?
5 Questions to Ask about a DIY Marketing Program
We live in the age of “do-it-yourself.” From raised bed gardens to craft beer, there’s a growing respect for getting your hands dirty. And whatever you want to learn: there’s a video for that. In fact a search for “how to” on YouTube yields almost 150 million titles (including “How to Make Your Jeans Look Worn In — But Not Sloppy!” and “How to Be a Hip Hop Dancer”). Or consider the popularity of HGTV? It’s enough to bring out your inner Martha Stewart. Many small businesses are approaching their marketing with the same DIY enthusiasm.
With content management systems, Google AdWords and MailChimp…why not? You can design your own graphics with Canva and create your own video with an iPhone. Then, you can spread the word via Houzz, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Need a little help? There are countless blogs, videos, ebooks, and webinars that share strategies, secrets and step-by-step advice.
In theory, a DIY marketing program can cost less while building marketing muscle in-house. But, it can also be challenging to build a strategic and consistent effort when you are learning as you go and balancing marketing against other priorities.
If you are weighing the pros and cons of a DIY marketing program, here are five important questions to ask yourself.
1) Do I have a strategy?
A successful marketing effort starts with measurable sales goals that include how many, for how much, and by when. If your goals are aggressive, you might need to invest more time and money up front.
The strategy should also identify your buyer personas – who wants your product/services, what needs it fulfills and where they seek information about it. This will help you craft strong, brand-based messaging and targeted tactics for reaching prospects.
2) What’s my learning curve and can I commit the time?
Here’s a quick list of some of the things inbound marketers think about on a daily basis. You can use this list to assess your level of confidence and to identify your training needs and schedule.
- Website updates through a content management system
- Blog posts
- Search engine optimization
- Keyword research and ranks
- Page optimization and performance
- Inbound referrals and link building
- Content development – i.e. infographics, webinars, social media, other
- Video or podcasting
- Persona development
- Press releases
- Social media – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, et al.
- Email automation
- App development
- Mobile marketing
3) Do I have the right marketing platform in place?
Your website will be the centerpiece of your online marketing platform. Some things to think about:
- Is it responsive?
- What’s the page load time?
- Is it search engine optimized?
- Does it have a blog?
- How are you keeping the content fresh?
- Does it have calls to action and landing pages?
In addition to your website, other tools that can be integrated for your inbound success include:
- Social media channels that make sense for reaching your prospects
- An email platform (Constant Contact, MailChimp, HubSpot, and others)
- A customer relationship management (CRM) system
- Google Analytics to monitor the performance of your website
4) Does the level of professionalism matter?
Think about your own habits when surfing the web:
- You do a search for “awesome dancing shoes” and get thousands of hits.
- You start clicking through the first ten search results and you make an instant judgment about the quality of the products, the security of the site, and the ease of the purchase based on how the site looks
- You assume better design, photography and navigation means a better store
- If you don’t like what you see, you quickly hit the back button.
It’s called the “bounce rate” and if visitors don’t enjoy the experience of getting to your site and wanting to know more, you will have a high bounce rate (another marketing stat you’ll want to monitor). Sometimes down-and-dirty ideas will gain notice and go viral. But don’t underestimate the value of good design and strong copy.
5) What resources will I need and how will I pull them all together?
Even if you have some marketing prowess in the form of strategy, copywriting, photography or design, chances are you will need outside help. To find the right talent, you can:
- Look locally through chambers or referrals
- Look within your industry through trade or professional groups
- Look online through sites like Fiverr where you can purchase single marketing tasks.
When you are pulling together multiple resources to build a marketing program, you will need to:
- Educate each contributor about your brand and your goals
- Coordinate discussions between vendors to make sure disparate pieces will work together
- Evaluate the quality of each piece of content and provide feedback
- Manage a schedule to develop and launch
- Keep an eye on results so you can adjust the program as needed
Marketing today takes an open mind and a sense of adventure.
The pace of new technologies and new ways to apply them shows no sign of slowing down. Even after you get going, you’ll need to make a commitment to keep learning what tactics have potential for your company and the best practices for pulling it all together. Hopefully the questions above provide some behind-the-scenes insights into the life of a modern marketer and help you determine what you are ready to tackle on your own, or with the guidance of an agency.