WHEN IT'S NOT THE TIME TO OUTSOURCE
It's easy for me to sit here and type up all the reasons why you should hire a brand consultant for your small business, and trust me, one of these day I will. What's not easy is giving you the four reasons why I believe it might NOT be the right time for you to outsource. After almost a year as a freelance brand and marketing strategist, and countless emails back and forth with actual and potential clients, I've picked up on a few cues that let me know if a client is or is not yet ready to commit to outsourcing such an important part of their business. So without further ado,
it is not the right time for you to outsource if:
1. You are not ready to trust the consultant you hire.
THIS ONE IS MAJOR. And to prove it I'm going to give you a personal example here. One of my first clients ever was starting up a skincare company, so as soon as she hired me we began by designing a website and e-commerce shop for all her products. After a few months in business, she wanted to open a facial bar, where she would use all the products and be able to showcase/sell them in person. Great idea, right?! I thought it was such a good business move, and immediately had a vision for how the facial bar would complement the online sales of her products and vice versa. Unfortunately, when we sat down to strategize how we would market the facial bar, she approached the meeting with a bullet point list of every task she had already decided on and wanted me to execute – one of which was to make a second website for the facial bar, something I strongly advised against. Knowing how difficult it is to drive traffic to a website, create a site that is perfectly branded, upkeep a website, and work on and maintain your SEO strategy, not to mention the added cost of web hosting and purchasing a new domain... I couldn't think of a worse idea. I advised that instead we simply add a page to the already existing site and use it to link the location, hours, and info on how to book a facial, but unfortunately, she was adamant about the two websites. Of course, my ultimate goal is always to serve the client, so I obliged. I quoted her for another web design, ongoing monthly maintenance, the domain and hosting costs, and we moved forward. I cross promoted the two websites to link to each other back and forth, but as you probably suspect, her bounce rate more than doubled, her traffic dropped off, and her SEO rankings on both sites plummeted. We were "splitting the baby" and putting all our faith in the hope that potential customers would land on one site, click over to the other, come back to the first, and along the way book a facial and fill their cart with some skincare products, and hopefully give us their email address too. Her marketing costs literally doubled, with nothing to show for it. It was heartbreaking to see her sales drop off so drastically, but I felt stuck. I didn't want to say "I told you so", but, umm, I TOTALLY TOLD HER SO.
That's when it hit me. She hired me to act as an assistant more than anything else. She didn't trust my expertise. She had her opinions on how things should be done, and just wanted someone to execute her vision because she didn't have the time to do it herself. The takeaway? When you decide to outsource, you are looking for more than someone who can just save you time. You want someone who can give you the best advice possible based on their knowledge. This does not mean you should find someone who is going to dictate every single marketing decision you make, and any brand consultant worth their weight in gold will value your input above anything else! What I am saying is that if you are not in a place mentally or emotionally where you feel you can truly listen to an expert's advice for your business, then it is not the right time to outsource.
2. You are not able to put in time with your consultant.
It might sound like I'm about to totally contradict the last point, but I promise the two of these make sense together! You are not ready to outsource if you are not ready to work with your consultant. I see time and time again in my emails that a lot of small business owners have the expectation that from the moment they outsource their marketing, their job is done. This couldn't be further from the truth. As much as I want to help take as much as I possibly can off your plate and be able to give you the results you've been dreaming of, I can't do it without your input! My area of expertise is in branding, marketing, design, SEO, and social media. Your area of expertise is in whatever industry you're in!
Let's revisit the skincare client I had and something she did well. She could tell me off the top of her head every single ingredient in every one of her products, what each of them was designed to do, where the best beauty trade shows were, etc. She was completely immersed in the industry, so when she told me she wanted to introduce a range of products containing CBD (aka: cannabis) because that's the trend she saw popping up faster than anything else in the beauty industry, I trusted her wholeheartedly. When you outsource something as integral as branding and marketing, you have to be willing to work as a team with your consultant. We are both bringing out best assets and knowledge to the table, but if you're not ready to work alongside your marketer, they will only be able to do so much for you without your input.
This can be a little counter intuitive, because it's often the busiest people who want to outsource and are therefore in the most difficult position to work alongside their consultant, but if I can count on you to give me your industry expertise, the return on your financial investment in your marketing strategist will go much, much further.
3. You are married to the idea that your business needs to serve everyone.
If I had a nickel for every time a client told me that their business "serves everyone"... I'd have a lot of nickels. Branding, by it's very definition, is about attracting the right audience, at the expense of repelling the wrong one. You cannot possibly appeal to every single person with your product or service, and attempting to do so will only result in you alienating everyone. The idea of purposely pushing a demographic away can be terrifying, but until you find your ideal client and figure out how to sell to them, you'll spend countless dollars and hours chasing after the wrong consumers, instead of positioning yourself so that the right ones to come to you.
There's a meme you may have seen that says "you cannot please everyone, you are not an avocado". I always laugh when I see this, because, I have a confession... I HATE AVOCADOS. It's hilarious to me that the one example people give of something that supposedly pleases everyone, still isn't able to do that! As much as you may believe your product or service is different, and really, truly will be loved by everyone, that's just not possible. If you're not ready to come to terms with that fact, you are not ready to outsource your branding.
4. You do not believe in your business.
Last, but probably the most important, you are not ready to outsource if you do not believe in your business. If you are trying to choose an independent contractor based on price alone and not the value they can bring to your business, you are sending a message that you and your business are not worth the investment. I am by no means telling you to spend your entire life savings or anything that will seriously set your business back, but a lot of the freelancers I am seeing small business owners opt to work with, are, frankly, a waste of money. You'll definitely spend more working with an industry expert, and I'm not going to sugarcoat that fact, but how does it make any sense to work with someone cheaper if they do not deliver results?
I always think back to my senior year, just before prom, when I stupidly decided to go to Supercuts for a haircut in an attempt to save money. I'm sure there are some wonderful Supercuts stylists, but let's just say my $20 haircut definitely reflected what I paid. I was so embarrassed that I ended up booking a last minute appointment to get an updo done that would hide the botched haircut long enough for prom, and made an appointment the following week to finally fix the whole thing. In the end, I lost 5 inches of hair and spent more in total than if I had just gone to a reputable stylist in the first place. Best case scenario, I would have gotten lucky with my Supercuts stylist and could have saved $$$ on a haircut, but the odds of that are just not in anyone's favor. If the stylist had really been that good, why would they be working at a Supercuts in the first place?!
If you don't believe your business is worth choosing an independent contractor based on quality rather than price, then it is not the right time to outsource. Best case scenario, you get lucky. Worst case scenario, you get scammed, do significant damage to your brand, and end up spending even more in the long run to undo any damage by an unethical, unqualified freelancer.
Have you been struggling with any of these?! I'd love to know what's been holding you back from outsourcing. However, if you are ready to outsource, let's talk! Lunch is on me, and I'll even let you order something with avocado. 😉