I believe that PR and marketing is something any small, creative startup owner can do. If you look at business activities internally – within the business as a machine, each department has been set up in response to growth. But at the beginning you don’t have that kind of growth. Instead, you’re building the foundations, scaling up comes later. I think that’s where many small businesses go wrong. They try to imitate medium or big business practices while they are still in their startup phases. There is however one exception; a startup with investors and capital, which is required to enter the market, scale up and possibly exit fast. However, if speed and capital is not you, here are the reasons why you should diy your PR and marketing:
- Teaching yourself to be resourceful
By doing your own PR and marketing, you are learning vital “business survival” skills. You are forced to explore your creativity in terms of:
a/ coming up with marketing campaigns
b/ collecting and analysing data (results of the campaign)
c/ communicating your message through content creation (PR)
You need to learn the art and the science behind relating to, and engaging with, your customer. If you are not clear on who your customer is, who else will? If you are not clear on your messaging, how are you going to tell your story and communicate it to your customer? If you are not clear on your marketing goals, what are your ROI expectations? That’s where most startups get disappointed after hiring a PR agency. Their expectations don’t align with the reality. And that’s where PR agencies are going wrong. They should teach brands how the market works (PR, marketing and advertising are ongoing, consistent activities, which take around 12 months to become effective), what is required from them and explain to them the levels of expectations, which I cover in detail in my PR Resource Book.
Why you need to do all that? Because there will be time in your business when internal and external factors will change consumer’s behaviour. Such changes will affect how the market functions. Once there is a change in the market, your business will be significantly affected too. Imagine that you have been in business for many years. You’re well-established. You have employees. But, the market is changing and you’re making loses. You need to downsize, fire your team and scale down as much as possible. You need to almost go back to where you started in order for you to survive. There is no budget for hiring PR or outsourcing any business activity. All you have is your own resources. You, as a small machine, have a big advantage. You still have a chance of turning things around. You can react and adjust faster than the big boys. All you’ll need is the lessons you’ve learnt through diy-ing your business activities; by training yourself to be creative, pro-active and responsive. You’ve done it once, so you can do it again.
- Teaching yourself the ability to adjust
To me this is a no-brainer. Every business needs to have the ability to adjust. Sometimes business survival depends on how quickly you can turn the business around (as mentioned above). You need to be able to spot what’s going on, learn and come up with a plan. You have to have the confidence to follow the plan through and the way you gain that confidence is by doing things yourself, by gaining experience. For example, you think of a great campaign that should generate great exposure and brand awareness but after you analyse the data, you realise that you did something wrong. You realise that you targeted the wrong press, wrong customer, wrong market. You adjust and come up with a more refined campaign. And bingo!
It’s a cycle of TESTING – LEARNING – ADJUSTING
- Learning about patience and consistency
Business takes time to grow and to get established. Full stop. I find it so frustrating that social media and Internet make business look so easy. To get a business off the ground, it takes on average 3- 5 years. And for those first 5 years PR and marketing are the activities that you should be doing everyday – YOU meet your customers face to face, YOU engage with them, YOU network. Those activities will test your patience and consistency. Again, it’s about learning an important skill: that progress is steady and gradual.
If you want to be part of a community that will help you with this, and that will support you on your journey, you can join our Atelier of Success. It is a private Facebook business group set up especially for creative lifestyle brands, emerging designers and artists. This is where I encourage sharing business knowledge and creating business opportunities through collaborations on pop-ups, trade shows, special promotions and social media exposure. If that’s something of interest, you can request to join here.