At some point, every growing company reaches a point where it needs a better and more active marketing plan in order to continue its successful growth. This transitional stage can provide serious, and sometimes painful, challenges for the people who started those businesses and worked to get them this far.
You got this far without hiring marketing help from outside your company so why, you may ask yourself, should you do it now? It's a brave new world, friend, at the next level, and those who have gone before you have discovered for themselves that there are five stages of admitting you need help with marketing.
Stage 1: Heady Excitement It's thrilling to be on the edge of something new! You can't help imagining all the amazing things the future may hold after you execute an ambitious new marketing plan that will take your business to new heights of success! You are going to knock this thing out of the park!
Signs of Stage 1: Heady Excitement include humming to yourself as you pore over website after website, adding tidbits of wisdom to your killer marketing plan. You may also experience bouts of gushing about how great it's going to be to get this new plan off the ground, beaming as you imagine new customers flocking to your door, and prematurely toasting your upcoming wild success.
Stage 2: That Crushing Feeling – You've read up on entrepreneur time management; you're sure you've got this! Because you've done your homework, you've learned that you're going to need to upgrade your website with an SSL certificate, a continually updated stream of fresh content, a more carefully designed sales funnel to convert casual visitors to your website into buyers; and you're going to need to put a lot more effort into both social media marketing and social media service, because you now understand that you need to pump out multiple targeted posts a day instead of the weekly promotional post you've been doing, and you've learned that customers expect you to actually talk to them on your social media, answer their questions, and sometimes deal with problems; then you need to get going on advertising campaigns and direct mail, trade magazine articles, and…some antacid. Yep. Definitely need some antacid.
Signs of Stage 2: Crushing Feeling – In addition to increased consumption of Tums, you may also experience carpal tunnel syndrome from spending so much time on social media and Google, twitching in one or both eyes from increased caffeine intake, and blank stares from your dog, who no longer remembers what you look like, since you're spending so much time at the office.
Stage 3: Floundering In A Funk – You've now spent the past few months cutting back on non-essentials like sleep, and sacrificing some family time – okay, a lot of family time – rebuilding your website, and continuing your weeks-long Facebook post exchange with your new bestie, Gert from Fishigon, Michigan. You've SEOed, funneled, emailed, and run so many online ads that even you're sick of seeing them. You've begged your staff to contribute small articles to keep fresh content continually pouring into your website. You had your doubts about running 2,000 words on 'Engineering Firms Provide Mechanical Engineers For Engineering Your Engineered Projects, HVAC Engineering Projects, And Fluid Dynamics Engineering Design Projects' but, hey, it was content, and it had lots of keywords in it. Now it's time to check out the all-important analytics. WHAT? Only 12 people visited your site in the past month, and all of them bounced in 17 seconds or less? Wow, have to work on that. Check out the MailChimp analytics. Huh. Only 43 of the 12,986 promotional emails you sent out were opened. An additional 11,342 recipients unsubscribed after you sent them the link to your engineering article.
Signs of Stage 3: The Funk – Early stage symptoms of The Funk include heavy under-eye bags, and a shambling gait, along with wrinkled clothing, and a weird, squeaking sound as your grind your teeth. Late-stage symptoms include snarling at office-mates; verbalizing unwritten, inappropriate responses to annoying people online; and noticing that the UPS driver now crosses himself and whispers a prayer before quietly opening your office door and pushing packages through the door with his toe before retreating in great haste.
Stage 4: This Is Not A Marketing Firm – After about six months of trying to go it alone, you'll be sitting bleary-eyed and discouraged at your desk one day, look wistfully at your bookshelf full of college texts and reference books, and think, "I'm an engineer [or whatever you actually are]. I miss being an engineer. How did I end up running a marketing firm?" This is the moment it all begins to turn in your favor. You've begun to realize that your time is best spent using the professional skills you are trained for and experienced in.
Signs of Stage 4: Not A Marketing Firm – Early stage 4 symptoms include frequent heavy sighs, million-mile stares, and pacing the floor. Later stage symptoms include Googling "Professional Marketing Services," "hire a marketer," and "outsourcing for small business." At this stage, you may experience a slight relaxation of the jaw muscles, and going home in time for dinner.
Stage 5: Calling For Back-Up – Stage 5 typically follows within days of late Stage 4. You may begin by completing an online contact form to ask for more information or by placing a telephone call. In either case, you may find yourself uncontrollably spilling the gory details of your attempts at DIY marketing, and how they didn't work. You may not be able to stop yourself from confessing that you recently woke up with paper-clip-shaped imprints on your face from having fallen asleep on your desk. Once you've finished, an understanding voice will explain how they can help you turn things around and achieve all of the things you imagined in Stage 1, but have since lost track of, through the Crushing Feeling and Black Funk.
Signs of Stage 5: Back-Up – Earliest stage symptoms of Stage 5 are disbelief and suspicion. Later stage symptoms include genuine smiles, feelings of hope, and occasionally, a small tear of relief.
Find Relief Sooner
Let's face it: It takes a certain brand of tenacity to start your own business in the first place. Don't let that tenacity work against you, when it comes to marketing. Realizing that your time is best spent on your core business doesn't make you a quitter. Hiring specialized help for marketing is a wise choice that allows you to be more effective in your own work.