The DIY game is strong in my family. This summer my husband single handedly cut in half and removed a 12 foot cast iron oil tank for our basement. And my 84 year dad just rebuilt his dishwasher. There isn’t a lot of calling in the cavalry at our place.
There’s some nice pride in DIY. (Home Depot banks it’s whole brand on it.) People will say, “Wow, you did that?” And you will say, “Why yes, yes I did.” But sometimes, DIY is a waste.
This time last winter I was standing on an eight foot ladder in an unflattering Tyvek suit stapling fiberglass insulation into the rafters of my second floor addition. We set out to insulate the entire now gutted first floor and the upstairs add on ourselves, because that’s how we do. To get it done my husband had to build two measuring and cutting jigs, buy taller ladders (and my oompa-loompa suit) and make more trips to Home Depot than I care to remember to fill our truck with as many Pink Panther rolls as it could fit. We filled every space, between every stud, in every wall, and every ceiling. It cost us nights, weekends and work time and hundreds of dollars, but we figured we were saving the cost of a pro job and every penny counted. It was itchy, miserable and took months. The suck level was high.
Cut to months later when a contractor friend said to me, “You know, your sheetrock guy could have done the job for less than you spent on insulation rolls and he’d ‘ve had it done in a couple of days with his crew.”
I wanted to simultaneously punch him and fall to the ground and weep. All that work was stupid pointless.
I ran straight to my neighbors doing almost the same project and practically commanded that they pay their sheetrocker to insulate their home. I had learned something about DIY, I just didn’t know the lesson was for my business too.
My DIY spirit makes for a persistent tension in the Marketing Rival agency where my partner Jen is chief delegator and I am chief cheapskate and power horder. Jen is quick to outsource tasks to professionals like lawyers, bookkeepers and web developers, and I’m like, “I can do it. I’ll buy a book about it and do it after dinner.”
I had to learn this lesson again this summer when Jen and I were getting ready to launch our new agency with a new site. I was building out the site in a new image heavy template that I loved, but like a floor out of plumb with the wall, it needed help, and I was busy.
Pages were gathering html dust and we were recreating our pricing plans in Word for every client and prospect as our “work with us” page sat half done. It’s not that I was lazy. We had that copy cranked out in no time. But when the client work was flooding in and there were problems to solve and deadlines to meet, those beloved business pages got neglected. I just did not want to pay someone to do something that theoretically I could do myself.
Though she didn’t say it herself, I’m sure Jen was frustrated. Eventually she convinced me to unfold my tight sweaty fist from around our website and hand it over to our developer. I begrudgingly agreed.
My awakening came when said developer fixed, in five minutes, a wonky spacing issue I was having on our home page. I had spent hours on this problem and in the time it took me to scroll through a morning’s worth of Instagram posts, he had it fixed.
Do you know that scene in Monty Python Search For The Holy Grail when the clouds part and King Arthur says, “Good idea, my Lord.” And The Lord thunders down, OF COURSE IT’S A GOOD IDEA. It was like that. Only I heard, “Pay professionals to do what they do professionally and stuff gets done.” (Paraphrase of course.)
Then I thought, what else can I give this guy to do? As it turns out, a lot. There were many tasks juuust outside my wheelhouse that I was doing and he could do better, faster. The money I spent to have him work on pages was an investment in three important things:
Project progress. Quality of work. My sanity.
I was glad to have it done, but really, also a little peeved. Because I said I would do it myself.
But here’s the thing. I wasn’t being honest with myself. I couldn’t program my own website anymore than I could change my own oil. Yes I could figure it out, read the manual, take a programming class (or a few hundred). But that takes time. And even after time, I’d get something produced by a beginner.
No one wants beginner work representing their business.
And that’s a tension in marketing where we as marketers spend a lot of energy writing about how you can do digital marketing yourself. We do this to serve our clients, to help strangers become prospects, to keep the Google juice going. We provide tools for people to get started on DIY content marketing and PR. An editorial calendar to keep you organized. A blogging manual to teach you the ropes. A media prospecting ebook to get you going on social PR. And these are great for those times when you just can’t call in the cavalry to provide you with a suite of marketing services. (I’m thinking of cash strapped start-ups and budding small businesses especially.)
But here’s who DIY marketing isn’t for:
Companies who want to grow. And I don’t mean by increments (today I did 11 push ups!). I mean smash through the glass of their goals to the prize on the other side.
What do you need to be that kind of company?
An insulation moment.
A nagging hunger to grow.
A market that needs what you have to offer.
The understanding that that there is value in spending today for tomorrow’s goals.
AND, a commitment to stick it out.
Marketing – blogging, adwords, pr, social – it all takes time to show results. Yes, you want to be agile. Yes, you want to iterate and pivot and all those beautiful ridiculous startup words. But man, YOU GOT TO KEEP GOING. And you don’t want to DIY it for the long haul.
One, it’s exhausting.
Two, you’re not that good at it.
Truly. You know it.
Yes, you can write your own blog, build your own site and do your own social media. But at what cost?
A blog that gets some traffic. A site that looks ok. Lead generation that’s weak. Social media for show and not leverage.
At Marketing Rival (now Ultraviolet) we’ll continue to give tips and tricks and some tools to help you improve your marketing because we want an educated audience of clients and prospects. But know that these tools aren’t meant to replace professional work.
You’re going to pay for your marketing one way or another, in cash to a professional (who can deliver you return on your investment) or with the time and effort you steal from your business.
Don’t be like me. Let someone else handle the insulation.