When to DIY marketing

As a professional digital marketer I can say without a doubt that hiring a company to do your marketing is NOT always the right choice, and I want to outline when to and (possibly more importantly) when not to hire one. In the process of choosing a marketing solution it’s vital to understand not only your business, but also yourself. In order to do DIY marketing, hire an internal marketing person, or hire a marketing company both your business and your own personality need to fit certain criteria. 

First, when to do the marketing yourself: In the life of every business there is a birth. This can be when you decide to sell pies and jams out of your home, create a dropshipping website to earn a little cash on the side, start freelance designing after work to earn more than a few cents on the dollar, or sell homemade soaps that you’ve been making as a hobby for years and finally decided to capitalize on. When this business is born you have to get the word out somehow, but how? You likely have little to no capital, often times minimal experience in the management of businesses, don’t have any solid cash flow, and you just want to see what you can make of your new project. This is the perfect time to look into DIY marketing! In these circumstances your risk is generally lower, your passion is high, and you know what you want your business to be better than anyone else. Marketing firms generally start at a minimum of $400/mo not counting the percentage of ad spend that they often times keep for themselves, or the hundreds to thousands of additional dollars you’ll have to pay to the actual ad platforms themselves (such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc.). If you’re only running this small business on the side, those costs can eat up all of your profits or even put you into the red without any guaranteed results. This will put unnecessary stress on you and may kill your passion for this new project. In this case it’s far better to learn the basics yourself and go from there.

The second circumstance in which you’ll want to initially do the marketing yourself requires far more introspection and the ability to be self aware. Ask yourself the following questions: Are you a control freak? Do you believe your new project is revolutionary and the only way it will fail is if it’s not marketed correctly? Did you go into debt for a business before it makes any money? Is this business a project that absolutely MUST succeed and you cannot risk failure? If you answered yes to any of these questions you should seriously consider marketing yourself. For both emotional and practical reasons you’ll be much happier pouring yourself into your business until it has a solid foundation before looking to a marketing expert to rake the burden off of you.

All if this may leave you wondering when you should look to hiring a marketing company to take over for you. Thankfully this answer is a little more straight forward! When your company is profitable enough to sustain itself, but not so large that it requires an entire marketing department with a large staff. Marketing companies offer numerous benefits. A good marketing company will stay on top of current trends, constantly train their staff, do their own case studies, keep the number of accounts per marketer low, and provide consistent measurable results without eating into ad spend in any significant way. In these cases a business making as little as 40k a year to as much as a few million a year often times is the perfect candidate. 

When do you hire in house? If your ad spend is so high that you could hire one or more marketing persons at a 6 figure salary plus benefits for less than hiring a marketing company (not counting the ad spend), it’s time to consider taking it in house. This is because you can have a dedicated representative working only for you. Keep in mind just because you hire in house does not mean that you’re going to get the best result. As in all things in life, you tend to get what you pay for so hiring someone with minimal experience for 50k will almost invariably provide worse results than a firm for a similar amount.  My rule of thumb is that the tipping point is almost always in the 6 figure range as that is what most highy experienced and adept marketers aim to make, but even then it really depends on what’s being provided, so always judge this on a case by case basis and compare what you really get from both the firm and potential employee.