DIY vs Hiring an Expert in Digital Marketing

There are many pros and cons of hiring a marketing expert to do your digital marketing for you, just as there are many pros and cons of learning many of the trades yourself.  I get asked time and time again to list the benefits of each, as well as the sacrifices involved.  There is no clear winner, the truth is that each person has different goals and sometimes, hiring an expert is the smarter way to go, but sometimes, the benefits of doing it yourself encourages you to put a little time and effort into it.

Hiring a Digital Marketing Expert – Pros and Cons

Hiring a marketing expert isn’t always easy, but there are a lot of things to consider before deciding whether or not it’s a fit for you and your business.  Here are the downsides of hiring a marketing manager for your company’s marketing:

1) This person will NEVER think like you, write like you, or present themselves like you.  They might come close, but until technology exists to implant parts of my client’s brains inside my own, I handle tasks, projects, and customers in the way that I would want them to be treated if they were my own.  But that might not be precisely how you pictured it would be.

2) Some people don’t “nerd out” about marketing, and it’s just a job to them.  Marketing is one of those things where mood, tone, and enthusiasm matters.  If I’ve had a bad day, I refuse to write marketing content; my mood comes through in my writing.  Why would I want to project my momentarily negative attitude onto a marketing piece?  Hiring the wrong person, or a person who’s just not into how their content is received is bad for your business.  Seek out those marketing nerds!

3) Marketing consultants can be expensive.  Please don’t leave your marketing in the hands of the person who provided you with the cheapest quote.  That doesn’t mean you have to work with the most expensive marketing consultant either, but know and understand the person’s previous experience and background.  If their hourly rate is cheap, find out why!  Simply ask them and expect them to be honest with you.  It’s okay if you still choose to work with this person, but knowing WHY they are priced so low will help you understand their potential pitfalls.

I’m sure that others may have opinions on the downsides of hiring a marketing manger, but I honestly think that most things will fall into one of the above 3 categories.  Of course, being a marketing consultant for-hire, I obviously think there are a ton of excellent reasons that you would want to hire someone like me to manage your company’s marketing for you, but I’m trying not to be biased and see things from the eyes of a small business owner.  Here are the pros of hiring an expert:

1) You can spend your time focusing on what you do best.  If you’re a financial advisor, chances are great that marketing isn’t your forte.  You’re great at financial advice, obviously!  By hiring an expert, you won’t have to spend all of your time learning about marketing and technology, nor will you have to take on the time-consuming task of calculating your ROI or determining new avenues if your current scheme isn’t working.  A good marketing consultant will be able to measure all of this for you, and explain it in ways you can understand, and simply ask your opinion before making decisions.

2) Turn-key operation, just tweak it as needed.  Anybody can make a Facebook post, right?  Sometimes the best way to utilize a marketing professional is to hire them to do all the set-up and making everything look spectacular, and then just hand it over to you for updating and future content.  Most marketing consultants I have met are great at teaching their clients how to do minor tweaks and changes, including blogging, Facebook updates, and sending out E-Newsletters.  You could even hire a part-time college student for work like this, but you’ll know it was set up by a professional and fully functional before turning it over to someone in-house.

3) Endless advice.  I think this goes for most consultants, but if my clients are paying me to do specific jobs for them, they can call and chat with me at any time about marketing in general; I usually don’t bill them for “advice”, even if it doesn’t pertain to the project we’re working on together.  Maybe you have idea you’d like to try, or create some new methods for your old ideas?  A marketing consultant is the perfect person to bounce ideas off, because chances are great that they’ve been down a similar road.  They can often offer expertise, additional ideas, or “dos and don’ts” that will save you hours of doing your own research.

DIY Digital Marketing – Pros and Cons

If you’re thinking that you want to take on the many tasks associated with doing your own digital marketing, WAY TO GO!  I always get excited when a business owner wants to be a part of it, or at least wants to understand the process.  If you simply study up on the basic essentials of digital marketing, you will at least know “enough to be dangerous”, which will result in expanding your knowledge over the future years of your business, and also understanding the mindset and skills that are required of a person that you may choose to hire down the road.  There are some pros and cons to DIY marketing for you to be aware of though, just like anything else.  Here are the pros to DIY digital marketing:

1) You’ll always know what’s going on with your marketing, ROI, what’s working, what’s not working, and you’ll know that your clients and potential clients are being talked to in YOUR voice.  For some, that peace of mind is worth all the time and energy you’ll spend on it.

2) You’re learning a new trade!  Say what you will, I don’t think there’s ever anything negative about learning something new.  It’s always been my goal to be well-rounded, and while I may have specialties, I enjoy knowing “something about everything” so that when the topic comes up, I can converse intelligently about it.

3) You’ll never feel bored or stagnant.  Marketing is ever-changing, especially digital marketing.  If you follow it closely like I do, and really make it a hobby to understand its ups and downs, you’ll never be bored with it.  There are new ideas and techniques coming to light every day, and just when you have mastery of one thing, Google changes their algorithm.  It’s the quickest changing industry that I know of, and it’s one of the reasons I love it so much.

On the flip side of that coin, there are some cons to doing your own digital marketing as well:

1) Time.  Sometimes it just seems like there’s not enough hours in the day!  And there may not be enough time for you to successfully run your business AND spend time doing your own digital marketing as well.  Not to mention, before you can even get started, there’s a lot to learn.  A lot of people don’t know or understand the metrics involved, so there is a slim chance that the things you do could be more damaging to your business and brand than you know.  That means that the time you’ve spent doing it was wasted because it wasn’t fruitful, and now on top of it you will have to hire someone or re-create things to correct the damage you did while you were learning.  It’s common to make mistakes while you’re learning something new, so if you’re ok with the fact that you might waste a little time here and there, you’ll be fine.

2) Knowing that it’s not “the best” that it could be.  You could spend hours and hours creating your own blog, and at the end of the day, not be happy with the results.  I have been down that road personally; when I first started learning website design in college, I honestly thought it was as easy as applying a template to a WordPress page and calling it done… but the truth is that to make a site look as polished and clean as most of the major websites you see, there are settings and coding that need to be tweaked, re-tweaked, and tweaked some more.  You may come to the end of your finished product, and it may be functional, but if it doesn’t look exactly how you dreamed, be prepared.  That’s sometimes a side-effect of DIY marketing, but a lot of people are okay with that!

3) Remember above where I said that one of the pros of DIY marketing is never feeling bored?  Well, for some people, that’s a con.  The digital marketing atmosphere is always changing.  You don’t necessarily have to follow every single trend that passes by, but keeping up with the changes in the landscape is very important if you don’t want to get left behind.  Sometimes, those constant changes are overwhelming.  I have to admit, I even get a little frustrated when a site I use daily changes their whole layout.  I know that it will be for the betterment of the site’s functionality, but for the first several days, I’m lost.  It increases the amount of time that I spend on a given task, simply because I’m stuck searching all over the page for one specific button or item.  If change is not your cup of tea, don’t dig too deep into DIY marketing.  You’ll have a panic attack within 30 days!

So… should you hire someone to handle your marketing, or should you do it on your own?

My final thought on whether you should do your own digital marketing or hire a marketing professional is to try to strike a balance between the two.  I would recommend that you hire a consultant to get ideas off the ground, get things rolling in the right direction, and help you with branding, design, and functionality of your chosen digital spaces.  Then, take over and either hire someone in-house to manage your blogging and social media, or do it yourself.  It gets expensive to have a marketing consultant do everything for you, unless they are a company with many employees doing the same thing daily and simply put you on their “content rotation” (this is not something I recommend, by the way).

Find someone in the digital marketing space that you trust, and ask them for their honest advice.  Depending on your skill set, your goals, your budget, and your amount of free time, there’s always a balanced solution to be found that works for both you and your business.

Brittany Gilbert

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