Do I Really Need a Marketing Person?

Administrative help we can find, but marketing seems a little more difficult. How do we know who to look for and how to know if they’re any good at it? Do I really need someone on staff? Or should I hire people to work on projects? If I don’t manage marketing, who will? When it comes to marketing, it seems like I have more questions than answers. Help!

Thoughts of the Day: Marketing is the most diverse of all of the company’s core functions, as well as the least well understood or measured. Marketing is essential to the company’s future. Building a team to work on marketing is the way to go. Figure out what it is that you plan to measure before you hire. Grow into marketing over time.

Most business owners are very good at what they do. But unless the services they provide fall into the marketing arena or they’ve had a past job in marketing, the whole field of marketing seems pretty foreign and uncomfortable to them. And we all know that we are less likely to jump on tasks that are unfamiliar.

Combine unfamiliarity with uncertainty – as in lack of clarity around expected results – and you’ll find most business owners will go out of their way to avoid the subject. Why work on something they don’t understand when instead, they could immerse themselves in something more comfortable, such as the work the company does to keep its current customers satisfied?

The breadth of marketing can be intimidating. There’s print, telecommunications and online venues through which to approach potential customers. Advertising, direct mail, social media, networking and phone campaigns are just some of the tools to use to attract attention. Just because people pay attention doesn’t mean that they’re the right targets – that’s where research comes into play. Focus on online presence with a website that lacks good design and programming and you could do more harm than damage. And of course, today’s customers may or may not be the customers your company needs in the future.

There are so many unknowns in marketing. Of course business owners choose to avoid the subject. But avoiding the subject can lead to big problems down the road when there aren’t enough of the right kinds of leads to keep the business growing profitably. So, the solution is to learn enough to be able to engage with the subject, learn about what does and doesn’t work and build a robust marketing function.

Get some experience with marketing by joining a club or taking a course devoted to the subject. There are national associations devoted to marketing. Schools provide semester and weekend courses. Look online for seminars available from business trainers. Start by learning about the subject and picking one or two topic areas to focus on.

A strong, well-rounded marketing function will help to ensure that your company is working on both today and the future. That’s your long-term goal. In the meantime you have to start somewhere. Build your confidence by starting small and getting a couple wins under your belt.

Interview people who provide various marketing services. For each area of marketing that you want to focus on, always interview at least three candidates. Use the interview process to learn about the topic. Use common sense. Don’t get intimidated. If it appeals to you, give it a try.

It’s hard to stay committed to any activity unless it shows measurable results. Unfortunately in marketing you have to give things time to gel. And it may be hard to compare the costs of a marketing activity to actual results. In addition, marketing is a multiplier function. Typically the more activities you engage in, the more likely you are to see a result.

Build your confidence. Make a list of things to work on in marketing. Then get one or two of the items checked off. Put together a timetable and a budget for marketing activities. That will help you see marketing as a process rather than an event.

Looking for a good book? Try “Small Business Marketing, Your Ultimate Guide” by Jimmy Nichols.

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