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Sep 29

When to Hire a Pro: DIY vs. Professional Marketing


In: Strategy Insights

As a recent homeowner, I’ve ambitiously approached my new role as a chance to explore my creative side, learn some new skills and save some cash by taking on some household projects. I’ve scoured YouTube for instructions on refinishing furniture, installing towel racks, sealing grout and staining decks … I could go on and on.

(Keep reading, I promise this relates to marketing.)

For the most part, I’ve found an abundance of incredibly helpful advice online. Experts have recommended tools, offered videos and pictures and given step by step instructions I can follow. However, I’ve noticed that nearly every time, there have been nuances to the steps that experts glazed over, and amidst a few projects that have been successful, I’ve had a few Pinterest fails along the way.

Marketing involves a similar union of creative aesthetics and solid structural framework. There are a ton of ways to communicate to audiences. A lot of our efforts as marketers is about trying out an idea to see how it will work.

Self Evaluation Tip: “If you haven’t failed yet, you probably haven’t done anything really creative yet either.”

Just for the fun of it, let’s say you’re needing to redesign your website, you want to increase your qualified sales leads with inbound marketing or you are implementing digital campaigns to increase traffic to your website. You’ve got some grand ideas in your mind after scouring the internet, spying on your competitors, attending the Digital Summit, or looking at lackluster conversion rates and deciding that something must be done. Here’s a few tips on next steps:

Define Your Goals - Your project should directly align with your company objectives. Before starting, be clear on how you are measuring success. Being creative is not enough if you don’t know you can’t answer the “why” question.

Keep Your Audience In Mind - Just because your idea is generally cool doesn’t mean it fits your primary audience. We use Buyer Personas to help us characterize and study the true interests and behaviors of the people who matter most to our client’s bottom line.

Prove Your Concept - If you’re going to spend much money or effort on a digital experience, product line or campaign you don’t want to get too far down the line before you get some feedback about the direction you’re running with. We use initiatives like surveys, focus groups, card sorting and other means as a low cost way to test our assumptions to increase the likelihood of ultimate success.

Don’t “Set It And Forget It” - Are you closely monitoring the progress of your marketing initiatives? What do you understand about the behavior of your target audience segments when they visit your site, see your paid ads or click on your content? Is your cost per conversion going down? Is there a roadblock in your Buyer’s Journey?

Know When To Hire A Pro - Know when your project is an appropriate creative or technological challenge to take on and when a greater level of experience, tools and training are better suited for the results you need.

On that last point, I’m sad to say that I talk to a lot of marketing managers who come to UNION with a digital marketing platform or campaign that they did in-house or gave to a vendor without much vetting that wasted a lot of money. It takes wisdom and business savvy for a marketing leader to know when to bring in a highly qualified resource for a specific initiative.

“If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, just wait until you hire an amateur.” Red Adair 

There are projects that can be done with the right attitude, tutorials, and tools. You’ll never grow as a marketer if you and your team don’t push your limits. But, be wise about what business risks are on the line. You’ll waste valuable time and money if you don’t know when to form a strategic partner with the right vendor to get a job right done the first time.

Clients have turned to us after losing thousands of dollars (not to mention opportunity cost) on Google Adwords campaigns that were improperly set up and managed. We also have many website redesign projects from companies who had recently launched a site only to have major performance or structural issues negatively impact their conversions, SEO or customer experience.

Your digital marketing is a lot bigger deal than the tile in my bathroom but even with that I’m going to resist the urge to tile it myself. With a few wins under my belt as a marketer, and now a home renovator, it’s my job to know when and how to choose the right partner for my project. When hiring a professional is more than I’d like to pay, I remind myself of the many dollars and many hours I’ve wasted when I didn’t.

Cheers to your marketing success!


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UNION is a full-service digital agency. We create experiences that help brands thrive. We believe to be relevant in today’s marketplace, brands must lead with a digital-first philosophy. We craft engaging digital experiences and integrated campaigns that are built on strategy and driven by data. At the heart of what we do is help brands create meaningful and enduring relationships with highly connected consumers.

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