Do-it-yourself (DIY) Marketing is easier than ever. There are a great new tools being released every day that put marketing campaign optimization, customer databases, and advanced ROI tracking in the hands of everyman entrepreneurs who may not see room in the budget for marketing staff or agencies. For them, the tradeoff is simple—why pay cash out of pocket, when with a little bit of time you can do everything an agency does for free?
The answer is pretty simple, actually: Time is money, and if your time as an entrepreneur isn’t focused on business development, you’re losing a lot of it.
How Much Money Is Time?
That depends on what your time is worth hourly. It’s different for everyone, but most important for entrepreneurs. Keep in mind, every hour you’re spending on marketing activities is an hour you could be:
- Trying to acquire new clients
- Exploring new business opportunities
- Developing your business model
- Coming up with new ideas
- Engaging your staff and current customers
- Furthering Personal Development
- Read ROE Powers ROI for great ideas for every leader
SEO and Content Development
Theoretically, you don’t need an agency to hit the number one spot on Google for your favorite search term. All you need to do is invest time in developing great content on a regular basis (the new SEO), stay on top of the latest changes to Google’s search algorithm, monitor the keywords relevant to your website and industry and refine your content to feature them, and then stay aware of the latest content distribution platforms and technology trends. You can probably do that just be reading through the Mojo blog or our free Guide to Online Marketing–both have many tutorials to help you maximize your impact.
But will you be able to do your own SEO as well as someone who’s entire career is built around it? How much is months of hands-on training worth, and can you afford to dedicate that much time?
As far as content, a solid baseline for blogging is three posts a week. Let’s say each post takes you 2 hours to write, edit, post, and share. Do you have 24 hours a month to spend on blogging? How about extra hours for new webpages or downloadable offers? 30 hours has to come from somewhere.
Social media is not tweeting about what you had to lunch, or asking your golf buddy to like your page. Social media strategy is the secret weapon that when done correctly will drive customer engagement and propel you to the top of the search rankings, or when done incorrectly will lead to hours and hours of wasted time and frustration. Social media does have trackable ROI that can be determined with the right tools. That ROI can be more than monitored, it can be improved. If the return is less than your investment, you need to find another option. (That option is not to ignore social media, unless you want your competitors to push you out of the online marketplace.)
You could set up hours worth of development that would allow you to tie your online forms to auto-response emails, direct everything to a database where contact lists can be segmented based on different contact properties, and send out targeted emails every week that are different based on what list of customers (or leads) they’re directed to. It’s a complicated, time consuming process, even if you’re long time techie. Or your agency can handle all that for you while holding themselves accountable for optimizing conversion and engagement rates.
Free Tools vs. HubSpot
It is possible to set up Google Analytics, Gravity Forms, MailChimp, HootSuite, SugarCRM, and a host of other programs to mimic the basic functionality of HubSpot. The analytics will not be as good. The contact management will not be as good. Your business decisions on the whole will not be as informed, but it is possible to mirror the basics of HubSpot for free (as long as you don’t mind logging into a half dozen different websites and programs.)
The Bottom Line
Our basic package is 40 hours of dedicated marketing time a month. For an individual undertaking the same tasks, it would likely take much more than 40 hours than it would a team of specialists. For an entrepreneur, you cannot add 40 hours to your month–it isn’t practical. The option, then, is either hire a new employee to focus on marketing, or hire an agency. But at the end of the day, it’s about the results of marketing more than the cost of the marketing. And if the marketing results are properly aligned to your business objectives, i.e., sales and profit, then… We’ve already got your answer for that.