DIY Marketing: The Good, the bad and the truth

Do-it-Yourself marketing is a bad idea. 

Or is it? 

Ask most marketing professionals and the answer will most likely be to steer clear of the DIY bug.  Take a look around the web and you’ll find an abundance of guides, tips and tools that make it seem like anyone can market their business on their own. 

So which is it?  Is DIY marketing good or bad?

The truth is it depends.  It depends on your business.  It depends on your budget.   It depends on your goals.  And, most importantly, it depends on you.

For example, if you’re a restaurant owner who doesn’t know a .gif from a .psd or a widget from a form, it would be best to outsource your entire website project.  If, however, you’re opening an art school and have some technical expertise, chances are you’ll have in-house resources to produce a decent site with minimal outside help.

DIY Marketing is About Finding the Balance

Let’s face it; many small, independent businesses are working with limited budgets. And it doesn’t always make sense to spend the money on a graphic designer or marketing professional every time you need to create an image for a presentation or send an email about an important update.

Tools like Canva and PicMonkey can be great resources for someone that has an eye for good layout. People who are really tech-savvy could be completely comfortable updating copy on their CMS website. For others? Not so much.

The reality is marketing on a budget will ultimately involve a mix of 3rd party and do-it-yourself options.  You aren’t going to be able to handle every marketing component yourself.

The key with DIY Marketing isn’t as much figuring out what you CAN do, as what you absolutely CANNOT do.

  • Be really HONEST with yourself in where your (and your team’s) talents lie and what you can realistically take on.
  • Determine the VALUE of your time. Is it more valuable spent building relationships with your customers or in figuring out the ins and outs of SEO?
  • LIMIT the scope of your marketing activities. Sometimes the best option when you don’t have the budget to do it right, is to wait until you do. 
  • MANAGE your expectations. You won’t have the skills and expertise of someone with years of experience in their marketing discipline. So don’t think you’ll achieve the same outcome.
  • Have PATIENCE. DIY marketing takes longer to implement and, therefore, to see results.

As an attorney, Michele R.J. Allinotte had valuable legal content to share.  She was accustomed to writing frequently and was very active on social media. So it was natural for her to take on blogging and social media herself. But when it came to designing her firms’ logo? She enlisted the help of a professional graphic designer.

Read more about Michele’s story on The American Bar Association’s  website for a great example of how she went about DIY marketing.

Regardless of what do-it-yourself projects you ultimately take on, there are a few marketing things every small business owner could (and should) be doing themselves.

  • Track your data: The more you know about your customers, the better you can market to them.  If you don’t have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, set up a spreadsheet in Excel.  In addition to tracking basic demographic data (age, gender, location, etc.) and getting an email address, make note of how they contacted you and how they heard about your company.   
  • Get to know Google Analytics: Do you have Google Analytics installed on your website?  If you don’t, or don’t know – find out and get it.  “GA” is a free tool that tracks traffic to your website and provides information on where your site visitors are coming from, what they’re looking at and how long there staying on the site.
  • Email: Whether you are sending text only emails or you bring in a graphic designer to set up a template you can use in Constant Contact or MailChimp, your customers and clients want to hear from you.  Make sure you are keeping them up-to-date with news about your company and new products.
  • Networking: This is something that, no matter your budget, you should always be doing yourself.  Join industry groups, attend events, speak at conferences, etc. 
  • Get on LinkedIn: For both B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) industries LinkedIn is a great resource for getting found, and finding valuable resources.  Go beyond just accepting invitations – check your homepage feed regularly, share articles, post opinions, and engage in relevant groups.

So whether DIY marketing for your company is good, bad, or just a necessary truth will depend entirely on you. 

Not sure where to start? Start with developing a plan. Find a marketing expert, a mentor, or business partner that you trust. Someone who will be honest with you.  Someone who can help guide you in deciding what you can do yourself and what would be best left to a professional.

What DIY Marketing activities is your business engaged in? What have you found that works best for you?


You may also like: The Marketing Budget of a Small Business or Start-Up