It’s the perennial dilemma for the smaller business operator and none is spared it.
Do we do it ourselves/myself or do I get help in?
On the one hand we are told to work on the business not in it (ie – hire in help) whilst on the other, most of our resources are pretty limited.
The reality is, that if we outsourced everything we really should, we would soon go broke as the costs of everyone from bookkeepers to virtual assistants to web gurus are all paid for before we get a chance to pay ourselves.
So the in-house/outsource line is going to vary from business to business.
For some, the entire digital presence should pretty much be outsourced. For others, there simply won’t be budget to bring in the required help so the owner/operator(s) have to work out how to do it themselves.
But here’s some ideas that might help decide either way.
Not so long ago you needed some pretty advanced skills to be able to create your own website. Even today, even the best website ‘building’ tools still require a good understanding of all of functionality, navigation, creative, content and more to get a professional result.
If you are pretty comfortable with content tools like PowerPoint and MS Word, and you can write reasonably well and have a good eye for design, you can probably come up with a serviceable but basic website.
But if you really want to keep up with the Joneses in your industry, sooner or later you will need pros in these areas to get the result and ROI you need.
Website maintenance is much easier than building it from scratch because really all the hard work has been done. If you’ve been set up with a good and easy to use Content Management System (CMS), most of the basic maintenance, like altering text, images and menu headings will be pretty straightforward.
But anything beyond this you might need assistance with.
Again, if your web pro has looked after you, any alterations or functionality additions will be easy and inexpensive to have done.
Once again, your first email will be the most difficult as you work through the design, layout and content you need. But if done correctly, this will serve as an excellent template for future newsletters, requiring a ‘cut and paste’ approach to each edition.
However, if writing is not your thing, you may need professional assistance with this extremely cost effective tactic.
Search engine optimisation
Many website builders now have SEO tools to assist with this process, so its much easier than ever before. However, if you are in a competitive industry then its best to get some professional help – at least initially and perhaps on an occasional basis.
One thing you can do to keep costs down is learn some SEO fundamentals which a good CMS will allow you to do yourself.
Given that much of Google and Facebook advertising is text-based, it’s actually relatively easy to create a campaign, write your content and activate it. But because you can create and activate your campaign doesn’t mean it will resonate with your audience and make them click.
Advertising copywriting – particularly when you need to consider important keywords, landing pages and so on requires considerable skill. This may be another area that you need help to achieve professional and therefore effective results.
Like online advertising, social media is relatively easy to ‘operate’ as such. But to do it strategically and with quality will take professional assistance.
I’ve seen some real clangers from business operators who are quite adept at managing their personal social media presence, but lack the professional communication and/or creative capabilities to ensure their business is represented professionally and effectively.
Unfortunately one of the biggest problems with digital communications is the gap between being able to operate an aspect of your digital world and doing it professionally.
Much of the technology is relatively easy to operate compared to traditional communications like television, radio and so on. However, this ease of operation also allows people to pick up these ‘enablement’ skills without understanding the various creative, communication and marketing fundamentals that go with them.
It’s a bit like music or movie piracy. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
This leads to the question of ‘if you can’t do it well, should we do it at all?’. But let’s leave that for another blog…
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.