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What Should You Do If You Just Don’t Like Marketing Your Business?

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Owning a small business usually means wearing many hats. It comes with the territory. But given the choice, most of us have areas of responsibility that we’d rather hand off to others. What happens though, if that dreaded task is marketing your business? Is this something that you can really “hand off”? Even if you technically can, should you?

Why Marketing Your Business is Different

When marketing your business is hard for youWhile it is possible to hand off or outsource your marketing activity, the truth is that marketing is different from most other aspects of running your business. It isn’t a business add-on. It’s really one of the main elements of what you’re doing as a business owner, and if you fail to recognize this, it can end up costing you a significant amount of money and ultimately your business over the long run.

At its core, marketing means conveying the unique value of what your business has to offer to current and potential customers, where “value” can refer to a lot of things: the features you are offering, your level of service, your business’ ideals and ethics, or your relatability to the customer. As a micro business owner, your goal is to constantly convey these values even when you are not directly involved in a marketing activity. Doing so is an inseparable part of doing business- successfully, anyway. After all, you are your business.

Options for the Marketing Phobic Micro Business Owner

That said, you basically have four options if you don’t like marketing your business:

1. Change your attitude. Seriously. Get over it! Learn to understand and appreciate marketing your business, and then learn how to do marketing well.

2. Find a business partner who will agree to take on the marketing. This may be a viable option for business owners who harbor an aversion to marketing. But, it means finding someone who is as committed to the business as you are and who will be able to give over right messages in the right way. That may not be so easy to do. Such a setup also means giving up on your autonomy.

3. Hire others to do your marketing for you. Some business owners choose to take themselves out of the marketing equation entirely- especially when it comes to online marketing. But there are two big problems with this: 1. It can get very expensive, and 2. Many outside marketers don’t know what they are doing, and they can end up doing damage to your business’ reputation.

4. Accept that running a business may not be for you. Not everyone is meant to run their own business. It’s a big reason why business failure rates are so high- especially online. Running your own business is not at all like having a job. You will have a lot more responsibility and need a lot more initiative to make things work, particularly when you are just starting out and there are many more unknowns. If all of this turns you off, then it could be a sign that business ownership is just not right for you.

In short, effective marketing is a key element in running a successful business, and it is not something that can be so easily outsourced. If marketing your business is truly a challenge, you may have a few options, but at the same time they may not be so easy to swallow. It all depends on how much you really want to be running your own business in the first place.

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Comments (8)

  • Hi, Susan. Thanks for an interesting article. I agree with some of the points you made — but only to a point. Marketing is certainly central to the growth and profitability of a company, but that doesn’t mean it has to be kept completely in house. Sales is also critical to success, as is operating a good accounting system, making sure that fulfillment goes the 110% to ensure delighted customers, and service follow-ups get priority handling to ensure satisfied customers that repeat and refer. Should business owners keep all of these 100% on their shoulders in order to “get them right”?

    I don’t think that marketing needs to be done 100% by the owner, but the owner absolutely must stay involved. But if the owner keeps marketing 100% to him/herself, that is not scalable and will severely eliminate business growth, long term. Expecting a business owner to change their attitude and become a marketing expert is also not realistic.

    For the business owner who cannot handle all of the marketing effort – and I would submit this is most business owners in the modern internet era – what is needed is a coach/collaborator who can train and advise, then pick up as much of the work as the owner desires. This keeps the owner involved, and shares costs since the owner has some amount of sweat equity invested. It also ensures that the owner has time to devote to the other aspects of the business. Working with a consultant sets a bound on what is spent (versus giving away a piece of the company to a partner).

    The problem is that I see from many so-called “marketing consultants” is a rush to tactics. Declarations like “You have to have a killer website”, “You need to have video”, “You must to be active on social media”, etc. are all tell-tales of this. Depending on the specific business, these all may be true. But unless the strategy and plan is well defined, a rush to tactics alone runs the risk of failing hard. A third-party marketing consultant who understands “strategy first” and can work across a spectrum of tactics while engaging with the business owner in the manner in which that owner wants help can actually save money compared to what might be wasted implementing vague tactics and failing at trial and error.

    Reply
    • Hi Jeff,

      Thank you for your comments!

      I agree, for a business owner to shoulder all marketing efforts, in many cases it won’t scale as a business grows and develops. Marketing/branding as a whole will often need to be broken down into smaller areas and handed to either employees or carefully-picked contractors, and a third-party consultant or mentor may also need to brought in.

      My post, however, was targeted to micro-business owners who are either running their businesses by themselves or have only a handful of employees. For these people, they are their business, and even when they are not involved in a designated “marketing activity” they are nevertheless still marketing themselves and their products or services. It doesn’t mean that micro business owners shouldn’t hire someone to build their websites or pay for a consultant or course to help them with their marketing strategies.

      What it does mean is that if they really want to be in business, then they can’t back away from promoting themselves, building a rememberable and recognizable brand, building key relationships with others in their niche or industry, and staying in touch with the major marketing trends.

      Reply
  • Hi Susan,

    Definitely some great tips. What we all need to remember is that marketing is a must for any business. It can be intimidating, especially with all the different ways to get traffic to a site.

    However, I have found that if you find 2-3 methods and stick with them till you get results, it definitely works. Most people try a new method for a short while and then they quit.

    They don’t give it enough time to work. Just like anything else, it takes practice and time to get it right.

    Great tips and thanks for sharing, have a great day.

    Reply
    • Hi Susan,

      Sticking with two or three methods and allowing enough time for them to produce results is definitely sound advice. You also need to put in time and effort at the very beginning to figure out what your marketing goals are, which platforms and will likely give you the best results, why and how they will give you those results.

      Marketing isn’t rocket science, but you do have to be motivated and willing to figure things out.

      Reply
  • Susan – Interesting point. Every business owner needs to understand marketing, however it doesn’t mean he needs to take care of it himself. There are two aspects of marketing – strategic and tactical. The owner needs to take care of strategic marketing piece. He certainly seek advice from experts, but at the end of the day it needs to be his call. The tactical piece of marketing can certainly be outsourced, however it needs to be based on the strategic decisions made beforehand.

    Reply
    • Hi Harry,

      Yes, the tactical piece of marketing can be outsourced, but I personally feel that not in every case should it be- or at least not all of it. There are many, many benefits to getting out there and doing most of the marketing yourself as a small business owner, and they can outweigh by far the “cost” of getting it done.

      Reply
  • While I agree with some of your points I think Jeff Stec’s comments above are right on the money.

    Business owners may or may not have a background in marketing any more than they might be trained CPA’s or IT specialists. Do they need to market their business? Yes. Do they need to understand how creating a strong marketing foundation will support their business when they do start to execute marking tactics? Yes. Do they need to do it themselves? No.

    I would propose that the primary mistake many business owners make is to take the “spray and pray” approach to marketing by trying many different marketing tactics without first developing a marketing strategy that is closely tied to their business strategy.

    Equally as important is taking the critical step of doing their customer and market research. By understanding what their customers really care about – the business owner can position their company, products and services in ways that are meaningful to their customers. This creates the basis for effective sales and marketing conversations and will help drive success.

    As an outsourced marketing executive resource, we work directly with business owners to help them grow their businesses. My advice is to ask the big questions to understand how your marketing resources, whether internal or outsourced, think about marketing and what it can or should be doing to help you drive business success.

    Reply
    • Hi Sue,

      I definitely agree that small business owners need to educate themselves about marketing, and that they need expert advice about the what, why, where, and how’s of marketing. I even think there is a place for outsourcing the things that anyone could do, like submitting press releases.

      But, when it comes to micro businesses in particular, the more that current and potential customers can see and connect to the people behind the business, the better… and the more powerful. It can give a business it’s unique flavor and competitive edge, and those qualities are going to become increasingly important as time goes by.

      This is not about putting posts on Twitter or Facebook or running a PPC campaign; it’s about building a personal brand and nurturing relationships, and that is not something so easily outsourced.

      Reply

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