Saturday, September 27, 2008

Small Business - Do-It-Yourself Marketing Doesn't Mean "Do-It-By-Yourself" Marketing

Busting Common Myths, Mistakes, and Misunderstandings On DIY Marketing

By David Miranda

About 9 of every 10 small businesses I encounter seeking marketing advice do so because they are not achieving the business results they anticipated. Typical quandries include:

  • "We're not generating enough leads."

  • "Our competitors are eating us for lunch."

  • "We can't afford to do the marketing we need to do to get our name out there."

  • "We need to change our marketing strategy, maybe reposition ourselves."
In every case, I ask the same question - "Do you have a business plan?" Believe it or not, few small businesses do. It's like embarking on a trip deciding where you are going and the means of transportation along the way. It's no wonder small businesses "get lost" along the way.

Why does this happen, even to very smart people? Here are some common myths, mistakes, and misunderstandings and the implications of each on the business:
  • "Business plans are a great thing to have, but there are more important things I have to invest my time in." Business implications: "Seat-of-your-pants" decisions, unfocused resources, constant second-guessing. and no way of strategically exploiting new opportunities.

  • "We don't need marketing, we need sales." Business implications: Commoditized offers based on price which reduces margins. No way to distinguish offerings from those of competitors. Always being on the defensive.

  • "We don't need to explore new methods and channels right now. We will look at these down the road." Business implications: Terminal thinking - the future is now. Businesses that don't explore the new are vulnerable to those that do and often with dire consequences.

  • "We don't need professional marketing help. It is a luxury. Because we have little or no marketing budget, we do everything ourselves - branding, brochures, advertising, etc." Business implications: Not having professional marketing advice is like not having an architect involved in building your new home. Just like a new home, a business is a major investment. Bring the pros in and bring them in early in the process.
Do-It-Yourself marketing does not mean Do-It-By-Yourself marketing. Sure you can go into a Home Depot for a do-it-yourself project, but even Home Depot provides expertise to the do-it-yourselfer.

Get professional marketing advice early. It's the least expensive way to go with the greatest return on investment for your business. You can then take it from there.