If you work in a firm that doesn’t have a dedicated marketing department, you’ve likely wrestled with the decision of whether or not to hire outside help. And you’ve probably considered the usual pros and cons.
- We can focus on our core business.
- Additional help will improve our marketing consistency.
- We’ll get expert advice from experienced professionals.
- No one knows our business like we do.
- We’ll still have to manage the process.
- We don’t have the budget.
A Parable in Painting
My husband and I recently decided to paint our home. We debated whether or not to hire painters and ultimately took the plunge – primarily because we have a two-story foyer. The crew came in last week, and painters did a fantastic job. In fact, they did such a great job that we realized it would have been a huge mistake to attempt the job on our own.
- The right tools. The crew had ladders designed to navigate stairs and access super-high ceilings. Subsequent touch-ups on my part revealed they used higher-quality brushes and rollers than I would have thought to buy. Getting the right equipment would have made a significant dent in DIY savings.
- The right resources. The painter brought in a team of five men, and they finished the job in two days. Quick completion allowed us to resume our usual schedule with minimal disruption. Had we tried to repaint during evenings and weekends, not only would the project have dragged on for months, but the process also could have strained spousal harmony.
- The right knowledge. Simply put, we didn’t know what we didn’t know. After five years, our walls had sustained many nicks and dents, in addition to some crackling and settling. The painters patched and spackled, leaving our home in pristine condition. We could not have achieved the same results, and we would have sparked considerable frustration had we tried.
We brought in several painters before making our selection, and choosing the right one made all the difference. The process was painless, and the results were stunning. These two factors made the price, which was competitive, an exceptional value.
The Proper Partner
Whether you’re looking for help with painting or producing your company newsletter, many of the questions remain the same:
- Can you solve this problem? Identify special challenges that you face, and ask whether the prospective partner can help you resolve them. Check out references and samples. See whether the individual or firm recommends creative solutions, or whether they look to you for direction. (Collaboration is important, but remember, you’re also hiring for expertise.)
- What resources do you have? Are you talking to a one-person shop or a company with team support? We received one quote from an individual who estimated the painting job would take two weeks, with us (literally!) doing the heavy lifting. The former option may be less expensive, but with less availability. Are you willing to wait longer on a one-off project? Or do you need consistent, long-term support?
- What is my budget? To help you determine a budget, do some research and request referrals, and interview a number of providers to see what they offer at what fees. Decide what budget range you’re comfortable with, and plan accordingly. Fortunately, you can find help at almost any price point. If you’re truly on a shoestring budget, check out Guru.com and Elance.com.
- Do I micromanage? Look at your management style and at your corporate culture. Are you open to new ideas and ways of doing things? Do you consistently spend more time managing vendors than you’d like? You may know exactly what you want and how you want it. If so, you simply need a partner to bring that vision to life. However, if you typically know more than the alleged expert and/or find yourself rewriting or redesigning everything that crosses your desk, it’s either time for a new partner—or you’re better off producing your own materials.
Do you have any questions to add or horror/success stories to share? Please comment below. And if you decide you need some help with your marketing, let’s talk.