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Inherent Dangers of DIY Marketing

Posted Thursday, December 20, 2012, at 12:52 AM

When you own or operate a small or mid-sized company, you likely have an innate sense of self-reliance. It's that desire to get things done on your own that probably got you to where you are today. That same drive to maintain unencumbered control, however, may be inhibiting your growth when it comes to the development and execution of your marketing strategy. While seemingly counterintuitive, here's why this is often the case.

First and foremost, as business owners and operators, it's almost impossible to have an unbiased perspective on your business, and objectivity is essential to effective marketing. Your strategy should be built on a foundation of market research -- understanding what customers and prospects see as your differentiators, how they perceive your service experience, how they see your company stacking up against competitors, and what factors influence their purchase decisions. In conducting your own research, your inevitable bias will no doubt influence the results.

Good marketing is part art and part science, and it takes experience to master. In a cluttered marketplace where consumers are inundated with advertising, you need a special kind of creativity to persuade prospects to take action.

Many small to mid-sized companies simply can't cost justify the hiring of a seasoned marketing professional. While it may seem like a smart cost-saving measure to manage your marketing yourself, it may be costing you more than you think. Compare cost savings to the opportunity cost -- the new business you're leaving on the table by deploying less-than-effective marketing.

Business owners are most likely to prioritize their time according to their skill set. If you're a CPA, you'll naturally gravitate towards financial tasks. Firm marketing is likely to rarely be your priority and will therefore suffer. Being the "best kept secret" in the market won't keep the checks coming in.

When you've "birthed" a company, you can find yourself so close to it that you may find it hard to talk about your differentiators in a concise way. A more objective vantage point is needed to streamline your message, especially for advertising, into a digestible sound byte.

The late founder of IBM, Tom Watson, once said, "Nothing happens until a sale is made." Marketing drives sales and is the lifeblood of your organization. You would never hire a dermatologist to conduct heart surgery, so why would you want anything less than a specialist for your business, which is probably near and dear to your heart?

While your unique entrepreneurial talents no doubt serve you well in other areas of your business, don't let these traits work against you when it comes to growing your company through deployment of an objective, concise, well-planned and executed marketing strategy.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and Founder/CEO of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).

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Lori Turner-Wilson
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Lori spent over 15 years leading corporate marketing and communications divisions in the financial services, hospitality and franchise restaurant sectors. As Director of Target Marketing for the Hampton Hotels brand of Hilton Hotels Corporation, Lori managed promotional, direct and Web marketing, as well as custom publishing, for the brand's franchise system. In her role as Vice President of Employee Communications and Development for First Horizon National Corporation, she managed the corporation's internal culture initiatives, communications, and employee recognition programs. Other positions held include Sr. Communications Director/Corporate Editor for TCBY Enterprises, Inc., and Vice President of Marketing for First National Banking Company. Lori is a founding sponsor and member of the Board of Directors for LaunchMemphis -- an organization committed to developing an entrepreneurial community in Memphis comprised of investors, entrepreneurs and local organizations. In addition, Lori is on the Board of Directors of the Sales and Marketing Society of the Mid-South and on the Advisory Board for the Humane Society of Memphis and Shelby County. She is a sought-after speaker in the Memphis area, delivering sales and marketing keynote addresses and workshops to organizations like: the Memphis Chapter of the American Advertising Federation, the Sales & Marketing Society of the Mid-South, LaunchMemphis, EmergeMemphis, the Memphis Regional Chamber, the National Association of Women Business Owners, and the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. Lori holds a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in addition to having completed the University of Colorado's School of Bank Marketing and Management. She is the recipient of numerous industry awards including local and district Addy's, Communicator awards, and a Telly. She received recognition as one of the Memphis Business Journal's "Top 40 Under 40" recipients in 2009. Lori also served as a contributing ghost writer for the renowned "Complete Idiot's Guide to Guerilla Marketing." Beyond her passions for marketing and dogs of all shapes and sizes, Lori is an avid traveler, runner and foodie.