A recent study by Pitney Bowes showed that a staggering 76% of small businesses believed in a mix of digital and ‘physical’ communications to get their marketing off the ground. The overwhelming element of digital marketing was email at 68% but more businesses are introducing social, with over 54% thinking it should form part of the mix. However, and this is the most interesting point from my perspective, over half struggle to deliver on their desired mix. Quite simply it’s difficult to find the time and the resources when you’re small, early stage or both. So what do you as the business owner do at this point. Do you dip a little into everything and hope that one works well and ‘runs itself’. Do you make a decision that email is the best route for you and only use it to the exclusion of all others? And are the resources financial, or time, or both that are limiting you? One of the biggest debates since social media became a key business tool is that it should be run entirely as an internal process. The representation of your brand using these channels is something that many are suggesting shouldn’t be let loose with ‘external’ consultants. And this becomes a daunting factor for those businesses who want to introduce social media into their already resource-limited mix. If we step aside for just a moment and look at other aspects of this traditional/digital mix then we’ll almost certainly be using some sort of third-party package to run our email campaigns. If we want to use PR we’ll very rarely try to run this activity ourselves unless we have considerable prior experience. We may not employ a large agency but we will look at using an experienced consultant who knows how to talk to the press. We know that brand elements designed in-house look as if they’re, well designed in-house, and for all those great tales of the thirteen-year-old boy next door doing website design, if we want to appear professional we’ll probably bring in external experts to build this key representation of our business. You can see where we’re leading: most elements of the marketing mix, even in an early-stage business are managed externally. And social media is just a part of that marketing mix. So the idea that you should try to do everything yourself is faintly ludicrous. In just the same way that a seasoned PR consultant will help drive you towards the best contacts and developing the best messages, you shouldn’t feel ashamed to take the same approach with your social media campaigns. Why go through the pain of understanding how to build Twitter lists and followers, or try to develop a FB page when others know how to do it better? To come back to my earlier question, the resources of which we’re short in our early stage business are a combination of both the financial and the time. And often one constraint means that the wrong choice is made which impacts on the other. So deciding to follow the new conventional wisdom and make social media an in-house activity can then put unnecessary strains on the time aspect. Which de-focuses you from building your great new business idea. And makes your ability to drive revenues and finance weaker. So it is, to use an old adage, a false economy, even when you can become expert in some time-saving techniques. Until you’ve worked your marketing mix you’ll not know which is best and most effective for you. But you don’t want to be driven down a cul-de-sac of trying to run everything yourself and not using the experts involved. After all, the reason you’re building your business is because you want people to buy your expertise and not try to deliver by their own methods. These experts can take less of your budgets than you’d expected with better ways of sourcing. And in the end you’ll find that you can deliver more as a result. The Creative Services Exchange can help you specify just what support you want and what budget you can devote – so why not submit a brief now, free up your time and let you take advantage of having the experts help you.
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