Marketing is not a do-it-yourself project

Updated 4/21/2011 12:37 PM

You might be a wizard when it comes to producing widgets, but that doesn't mean your widget skills will translate to marketing. Marketing is not a do-it-yourself project.

"Business owners assume they're qualified to write copy or do websites, but they turn out to be their own worst enemy," says Phil Grisolia. "I don't work on my car, repair my watch or try to fix my computer. If you need a website, you should go to a web designer and say, 'Make me a website.'"


Grisolia is not a website designer, but he does write copy for websites -- and for other types of marketing and advertising projects. Chief marketing officer at Persuasive Marketing Group, Huntley, Grisolia has definite opinions about small businesses and marketing.

For starters, there's the issue of whether marketing help should be on staff or outside.

A small business "doesn't need a marketing guru on staff," Grisolia says. "But you should have one on call. Small business owners should search for marketing help on a project basis.

"Find someone who can help you identify the problem, give you a (project) start and finish date, and cost the project for you."

Costs are important, but a business' marketing budget can be a matter of perception. Grisolia suggests, for example, that business owners shouldn't "spend" marketing dollars.

"If you just spend marketing money, those dollars can be gone," he says. "Invest in marketing. When you make an investment, you'll purchase websites, (radio-TV) time or space advertising that will produce a return."

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To entrepreneurs with tight budgets, return, or marketing effectiveness, is a huge issue.

Business owners, Grisolia says, "do a lot of guessing and a lot of wishing" when it comes to sales-generating marketing initiatives. "They do very little research."

Yet, to Grisolia, "So much of marketing is testing. Test. Test. Test. Try to improve on what you've done."

Assume, Grisolia suggests, that you've run an ad. "A simple ad. Headline, photo and copy with your price. Track the number of sales the ad generates, then try to beat the results with your next effort.

"Next time, change one element. Maybe the headline. Maybe the photo. Then compare the results with the original ad. Whether the results are better or worse, you'll know what (element) produced the change."

There are several options if you want additional conversation before plunging into marketing. Grisolia suggests free counseling at Fox Valley SCORE, which has sites throughout the suburbs except Cook County, where the Chicago SCORE chapter holds forth; or the American Marketing Association, which is headquartered in downtown Chicago and has a separate local chapter in the Loop as well.

Grisolia will talk, too. Or you can email me at the address below.

• Contact Jim Kendall at