I am the owner of a small healing arts business. I launched my business with close to zero in start-up capital. I traded the security of a corporate job and a steady paycheck for the hope that I could do the work that was meaningful to me. The first few years were very lean. And when I say “very lean,” I mean so lean that I moved back in with Mom and Dad not once but twice to keep things going.
Like many entrepreneurs who follow their passion, I am good at the service I provide, which, in my case, is hypnotherapy. However, marketing, accounting, web design, SEO, bookkeeping, and payroll were all crucial aspects of my business that I not only didn’t know anything about, but also didn’t care to learn. Still, I learned how to do it myself because I believed there was no other option.
As they say, hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, if I had to do it again, I would have chosen a different path: I would have invested in a marketing much earlier in the game. I believe this move would have supported me in growing my business and reaching my goals much faster. The good news is that it all worked out. I am still in business today, and it is beginning to really thrive. I want to share my process of trial and error with other small business owners who might benefit from some of my mistakes. So here are my top four reasons you should hire a marketing professional as soon as possible.
1. You wouldn’t wear your pajamas on a first date.
The first website I created was done by yours truly. I used a GoDaddy template and just whipped something up one afternoon. It would be generous to say that it was hideous. Not only do I not know anything about web design, I am really not good at any type of design. I still ask my Mom and sister whether or not my clothes match, so I’m sure you can imagine what I put together. I actually remember being on a date with a guy who was asking me about my business. Although I told him I had a website, I begged him not to look at it because I was so embarrassed of how terrible it was. This was not helpful from a marketing perspective!
Your website is the face of your business; in most cases, it is your one–and possibly only–opportunity to make a first impression on new clients. The majority of my business comes to me through Google searches. As a consumer, I know that if I am choosing between two businesses, I will choose the one with the best looking site, assuming they are more qualified. You only get one chance to make a first impression. You want to be proud of your website! A good marketing professional can help you create a site that reflects you and your business and targets your desired clientele.
2. You will actually save money in the long run.
As I began to educate myself on how to market my business, I tried all kinds of things that I thought were going to be more budget-friendly options. Just a few examples included hiring contractors from other countries off of sites like Odesk, creating my own Google AdWords and Facebook campaigns, and paying for print ads in different publications. None of these things are necessarily bad in and of themselves, but I didn’t have a strategy. So $20 dollars here and $100 dollars there really added up over the course of a year.
You might find yourself spending more than you realize and yield very few results or even tragic ones. A few of the costly outcomes for me during my budget-friendly marketing phase were contractors who did not follow through on services I’d already paid for as well as a lot of wasted money on advertising that went nowhere because I didn’t know how to reach my target audience. By the time I finally hired a marketing consultant, I already had spent almost $4k in budget-friendly, self-taught marketing efforts that had yielded insignificant results. I realized two things: First, I had a bigger marketing budget than I gave myself credit for. And second, if I invested that money with a professional, I might actually see a return on my investment.
3. Stick with what you know; your time is worth more when you are working.
I charge $100 per hour. The more clients I see, the more money I make. It’s pretty simple in my business. In addition, I don’t want to become an accountant or a marketing guru. The hours I spent trying to figure these business-critical things out was time that I could have been making money seeing clients. I set out to be a great therapist, and the more time I can spend on that, the more money I make.
Hiring a marketing professional will not only give you the time you need to focus on being great at your trade or profession, but it will also help you to effectively reach your target clientele and get clients walking through the door. The biggest benefit to me of hiring a professional is that I have more time to focus on what I love, and I am now seeing a significant return on my investment. Hummingbird Marketing Services came up with a strategic plan, and they monitor how it performs, adjusting when necessary. The increase I have experienced in business and revenue far exceeds what I spend on marketing now that I have someone who knows what they are doing.
4. SEO is not “set it and forget it” by any stretch; it requires an investment.
SEO is a huge topic. A friend of mine is an SEO specialist, and so I asked him how I could improve SEO on my site myself. Over the next 20 minutes, he outlined some strategies and theories, and I realized that I had completely stopped listening to what he was saying because I didn’t really understand or care to learn. Most likely, you will not learn how to do SEO yourself well unless you have a passion for Internet marketing. A well-optimized site is crucial. People must be able to find you online. Enough said.
Yes, it’s a risk. And yes, it is scary to invest your money and not know if you will get a return. There are no guarantees in business. But what I have learned on my journey of being a small business owner is that if you connect with good, trustworthy professionals like Andi Lucas, your business has a much better chance of flourishing than if you try to do it all yourself. You are much more likely to see results if you have a team of professionals on your side.
Guest Blogger Laura Richer, CHt, is the founder and owner of Seattle Healing Hypnotherapy, Reiki, and Life Coaching as well as a client of Hummingbird Marketing Services.