To DIY or not to DIY? When you’re launching a product, running a business, or producing an event on a budget, it’s important to look at every line item and make sure the allotment is realistic for the goals of your business. Every entrepreneur’s instinct is to do as much as possible themselves to keep costs down and the vision streamlined, but taking on duties that are unfamiliar can hinder success, from lack of expertise to draining valuable time and resources.
Many new entrepreneurs are unclear when it comes to marketing and publicity – what needs to be done, when, and how much it should cost.
You see hundreds of ads every day so it probably doesn’t seem like a stretch to create one. Then again, you also use money every day but still hire an accountant to handle the business finances, right? You see where I’m going with this.
So here are some questions to ask yourself and your team before deciding whether to outsource promotion:
What are my goals?
What are the success metrics for your project? If you’re looking to showcase yourself, test an idea, or just get something out there into the world, there may not be much need to spread the word far and wide. But if your goals are heavily financial or invested in moving to a larger market, you’d do well to set yourself up with marketing tools that play at that level.
How much do you really have to sell?
A producer is putting up a show in an 80-seat theatre for one weekend that has a cast of 12, and his personal mailing list alone is over 1,000 people. Do the math: they can sell out without breaking a sweat as long as they compellingly convey the value of the show to their immediate audience. I spoke with one self-publishing author who wanted a New York Times review but only had 600 copies of his book to sell. Hence, he didn’t need press with a circulation that big. Match the strategy to the product.
Do I know who my target audience is and how to get information to them?
“People who like art” is probably still too broad when defining your target audience. Perhaps your true core audience iscontemporary art aficionados in their 30s who love nightlife and have disposable income. Where are they, do you have access, and how will you get their attention?
Do I have the time?
If promotion brings a learning curve, it may take your entire Saturday to write a paragraph of marketing copy – time that could have been spent on another aspect of the business. Many of my clients are quite smart about marketing, but at the end of the day they just don’t have the time to execute. These relationships are quite successful, because we collaborate on ideas and I can outline how to make them effective in the real world.
Do I have the money?
Not just for the marketing firm and/or publicity firm, but for your graphic design, printing, distribution, press kits, photographer, videographer, web design, advertising, search engine advertising, and everything else that is needed to properly promote. For small businesses and entertainment projects in New York, I have seen budgets from $1500 per week for an off-Broadway press agent (this is not marketing, just press) and small nonprofits spending $7,000 per month to keep a PR firm on retainer (the negotiated, nonprofit rate). If you’re hiring a freelancer, consider the average amount an experienced marketer in your area makes – how much would you need to spend for a healthy portion of her time? Still, an agency or freelancer can be a far more cost-effective investment than a full-time staffer, because you benefit from more experience and wider resources for less than what you would pay for a full salary and benefits.
More marketing considerations…
How did marketing and PR go for my last or most similar project? If I want different results, will it take outside help?
How are projects with similar scopes doing their marketing and PR? Do you want the same results they have?
Does it make sense to solidify your brand now for future iterations?
How big and how loyal is my mailing list?
How many opens, clicks, and sales do I get from my promotional emails?
How many Facebook connections do I have? Twitter followers? Is my presence on social media effectively building my brand?
How many people are on my team, and will they actively promote to their connections?
Am I well-acquainted with current graphic and web design standards?
Do I know how to leverage online tools like social media and search engines to get attention?
If people their services for free, like graphic design, what happens if they miss my deadline or I don’t like what they create?
More PR considerations…
Do I know the protocol for interacting with press?
Do I understand the structure and content of a press release?
Is this project pressworthy?
Do I have a current press contact list?
Do I have an excellent, industry-experienced photographer?
What makes this project different from any other?
Do my investors or board expect to see media coverage of this project?