Here are the top five pitfalls to avoid when doing marketing yourself.

If there’s one trend this decade will be remembered for, it’s the concept of “Do It Yourself”. Everywhere you turn, it’s DIY this, DIY that. From home improvements to creating a business from the ground up, there’s a guide to teach you how to do it without any help whatsoever from anyone. How-to videos on YouTube are all the rage (I know, my husband watches them ALL THE TIME). While this may work for installing tile in your bathroom, cooking a Brazilian dish, or re-potting a plant, there are some things I wouldn’t recommend it for, however. Marketing is one of them.

While it can be very tempting to do it all yourself when it comes to marketing (there are guidebooks galore from Guerilla Social Media Marketing to Marketing for Dummies), the first thing you should realize is that you don’t have to. Effective outsourcing means that you can use the resources you have for the most strategic tasks, while letting someone else “do the dirty work” so to speak. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with relying on people that have more experience than you do. Not only can it help you get projects completed faster, it also means that you don’t need to do the tasks you don’t necessarily like. Because seriously folks — just because I can paint my own house doesn’t mean I want to…am I right?

No-one will deny that DIY can be fun at times for certain things (like arts & crafts with your kids on a rainy Sunday afternoon), but there are traps when it comes to DIY especially when related to marketing.

​Here is my list of top DIY marketing pitfalls to avoid:

DIY Translation

Unless you are completely bilingual in another language, using online translation tools will only turn your content into approximations.Getting lost in translation is a real thing, so it’s better to find someone who really understands the art of interpretation and can create new content in local languages for your target markets. As discussed in my posts about How Marketing is Changing in EMEA and Why Localized Content is a Must in EMEA, you can’t expect to target local markets with an English-only approach. And if you’ve ever used Google Translate for anything, you know that it can turn language into a joke-fest.  Just check-out one of Jimmy Fallon’s “Translated Songs” sketches if you don’t believe me.

DIY Social Media

This is one of the most common DIY mistakes. Handling social media management on your own may seem like a piece of cake, and people dive into it thinking, “how hard can it be, everyone knows how to use Facebook”. And that’s exactly where they go wrong. To start with, SMM is about more than just the occasional post on Facebook — it’s about brand reputation management, public relations outreach, customer relationship building, and diplomacy. Knowing how to handle (viral) criticism (or outright attacks) can at times call for crisis communication techniques that go beyond ones’ normal (personal) use of online media.  Businesses can be ruined if they aren’t careful about what they communicate, where and how.

In fact, I recently saw an example of this. A company had posted a product photo on their Facebook page, and a prospective client wrote a rather critical commentary (essentially saying the product was too expensive). Instead of posting a diplomatic response full of insight or reasoning, the company’s response was insulting. To make a long story short, the company in so many words said that the prospect was wrong and that he could do his business elsewhere. Not only was the response inappropriate, it had an immediate impact. Dozens of other comments popped up from other people who reached out to defend the guy and berate the company for having such an arrogant attitude. So not only did they lose the business of the one prospect, they certainly lost the business of all of the followers of that post.

It’s easy to say, “I would never do that,” or “that won’t happen to me,” but spontaneous responses to posts are an easy trap to fall into. Having a well thought out strategy and response procedure can help ensure that simple posts don’t degenerate into viral brand-bashing sessions. Working with someone to help you do this is better than the DIY solution in my book.

DIY Website and Content Design

This was a big thing in the 90’s as internet debutants churned out ridiculous website designs with rainbow colors and Times New Roman font. Like this one:


​Yikes! (How was this even a thing?) Fortunately, the situation has improved greatly since that time, but as e-commerce and micro-enterprises are popping up at record levels, the temptation to do all your design work yourself is still there. I know that there are a lot of design sites out there to help, but the line between amateur work and professional work can make a real difference at the end of the day (and for not much more money). The time and energy you’ll save by giving this kind of work to a professional designer instead of doing it yourself will be worth it.

DIY Contacts Acquisition

A lot of DIY marketers think they’ll save time by buying data from a broker, but it’s just not a good idea. Not only is the quality of the data questionable (we’ve had many clients do this only to regret their choice later because they spent a lot of money on very poor quality information), as mentioned in my recent post about the new GDPR rules and regulations in Europe, buying contact lists is no longer compliant because you don’t have explicit permission to handle or process this data.

Building data from scratch can be a daunting and highly time-consuming task, so it’s no wonder that this one is difficult to do on your own (especially if you don’t have much in the way of resources to rely on). Using social media to find contacts or conducting endless online searches to find new sources of data can also lead to frustration (and for good cause): we have found that upwards of 45% of contacts on LinkedIn have profiles that have not been updated to include their current job positions. That means nearly 1 out of 2 contacts may not be a good prospect for you to target with your marketing campaign because they no longer hold the position that they’ve indicated on their online profile! Externalizing data building and cleansing activities is easy and can help you be sure you are targeting the right people.

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