You’ve seen ads for online business cards. The business owner clicks here, clicks there, and she’s got her business cards in 5-7 business days. It would be great if all in house marketing tasks were this easy.
With so many tools at our disposal, it’s easy to get relatively good results from in house marketing or DIY marketing. For the most part, it also keeps costs down.
And, it usually works pretty well – at least in the beginning.
In House Marketing, In The Beginning . . .
As discussed in an earlier blog post on the changes in marketing departments, the entire field of marketing has changed radically in recent years. Unfortunately, a lot of marketing departments haven’t. One positive change has been the availability of those tools we just mentioned – this has led to a kind of democratization of the marketing process.
You don’t necessarily have to have a full-time graphic designer on staff and a physical printer down the street to get those business cards this week. With platforms like WordPress, you don’t have to have a full-time web designer on staff to make a change to a web page or blog post. These are all good things for small businesses.
Two In House Flavors
Today, there are essentially two kinds of in house marketing, and we’ll use these definitions for convenience here:
There is true in house marketing with a dedicated staff of one or more. Many marketing related tasks can and should be done in house.
Then, there’s DIY marketing – a flavor of “in house” marketing – where the business owner or other staff member also wears the marketing hats.
If you don’t yet have a marketing department per se, the problems tend to start when the business experiences the first growing pains. There are more moving parts. Disconnects start to appear in brand and message. You go for a red that is “close enough” to the logo here and a different one there. You hurriedly send out an email campaign that seems a little off somehow . . . but don’t worry, you’ll fix it next time.
At that point, you may or may not realize it, but some outside perspective – if only from a group of loyal customers – would be an enormous help.
The Pros of In House Marketing
So before we get to that point of no return, let’s look at the pros and cons of in house marketing and see what can be done to avoid pain.
- Expert Knowledge
The greatest advantage touted for in house marketing is the closeness to the subject. It’s difficult to expect someone from the outside to have the same level of knowledge about niche subjects. This discrepancy is often most apparent in blog writing, some social media posts, and email marketing.
Demanding something from someone down the hall is comforting. Plus, turnaround time can be better compared to a phone call or email to another time zone.
If you do have a true marketing department in house, the focused effort can be a strength, because you’re working with the same limited pool of people dedicated to a limited number of tasks.
The Cons of In House Marketing
If you characterize your efforts as more on the DIY marketing side of things, consistency becomes a problem. Messaging as well as “look and feel” often suffers because few people are good at running a business, picking logo or office colors, generating blog content, and messaging an email campaign. Instead, having someone else orchestrate all of these aspects is key.
Few small businesses or nonprofit organizations can afford a specialist in each of the aspects of contemporary marketing – graphics, video, social, content, web, and mobile, for example.
- Opportunity Cost
And then there’s opportunity cost – the cost you incur when you’re pulled away from what you and your personnel do best and often make more money doing. Kind of like cutting your own grass when you could make twice as much as the lawn guy costs or spend quality time with your family.
If your DIY marketing efforts are requiring shortcuts, what are the inconsistencies, mistakes, and oversights costing you in winning new business?
New insights, perspectives, and outside know-how are key to innovation. And today, everyone must constantly find new ways to win attention in their marketing efforts. Members of departments, on the other hand, tend to become focused on entrenchment.
What You Don’t See
In our earlier example of the business owner ordering her business cards, what we don’t see in the ad is that her cards look different than her letterhead and her web site, and her logo still isn’t on the vinyl signage she has in the window. Also, someone tried to reach out via social media, but she was too busy doing a business card layout.
I do hope however that she took time to read this blog post like you did.