Marketing is hard, especially for brands in their first few years. Even for an experienced marketer, marketing your own company is a completely new challenge. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier if you had a bit more cash to throw at a marketing firm, and they could just handle it for you, right? Yet, while you need marketing to grow your tribe, you also need your tribe to grow your marketing, and there’s no special way to figure out which one comes first. Chicken: meet egg.

Although it might feel like hiring a marketing firm will fix things, it actually won’t. Here’s the thing if you went to a marketing firm and hired them to do the work for you, yes, they would be able to put together some campaigns, which might even work. But you are the only one who knows your business inside and out. You’re the only one who truly understands your goals, and you’re the only one who can direct the future of your company. Working with a marketing firm is great, but it’s best when you already have a clear picture of what you want your marketing plan to be. Once you have that plan in place, you can hire a firm to help brainstorm fresh ideas in order to create your plan with you (instead of for you), and then carry out the individual marketing tasks moving forward. It’s completely reasonable that you, as the CEO of your company, want to focus on running your business instead of focusing on the marketing plan, but you should still expect to be heavily involved.

Here’s the important part: it doesn’t matter whether you’re hiring a firm or going DIY. Either way, you need to have the same marketing basics down, and they have to come from YOU.

 Your brain is not a book. We can't read it, and neither can an outside marketing firm.

Your brain is not a book. We can’t read it, and neither can an outside marketing firm.

Unless you can pay someone to read your mind (and please, if you’ve found this service, let me know about it), you can’t hire a firm to create the perfect marketing plan for your company without your input.

— SewEthico Says

You need to develop the strategy and goals for your marketing plan, or else anyone you bring on could steer your efforts in the wrong direction. This happens all too often, and it’s a huge waste of time and money, neither of which you can afford to just throw out the window.

So, why does marketing feel so scary?

  1. Marketing plans and strategies come with a lot of moving parts, and if any pieces go missing, you’re left wondering what went wrong. However, once you know what pieces of the puzzle you need, you can develop systems to help keep them in order.
  2. When you’re creating a marketing plan, it can feel like you’re doing a whole lot of work with only half the information you need to complete the tasks. Why? Because you’re not creating materials for you you’re creating them for your customer. How are you supposed to know what they want? You may not even know who that person really is!

We’re going to tackle the second point in today’s blog, but if you’re interested in learning more about other aspects of marketing, subscribe to our mailing list for blog updates on marketing and other business issues.

The first step in creating a campaign is to figure out who you’re talking to. The reason I love marketing so much is that it’s about communication and creating community. When I worked for nonprofits, this was made clear to me, because my goal never involved making money. The museums I worked for had reduced or free programming, so it was always about getting people to just be involved. When you realize that integral fact that marketing is about growing your community and not about making money it really helps you to see things in a completely new light. Yes, your company needs to make money, but that’s a result of what you do, not the reason you do it. So, once you figure out exactly who you’re talking to, or who your community members are, you can figure out what they need, and what their pain points are. From there, you can learn how to solve their problems. Some are easier than others, and some are much deeper than they may first appear.

 Hiring a marketing firm to figure your problems out for you isn't going to work.

Hiring a marketing firm to figure your problems out for you isn’t going to work.

For example, I have a good friend who had a baby about a year ago. She had a difficult time figuring out what to wear for her post-pregnancy body. It’s easy to look at this situation and say, “Oh, that’s easy, you just need something that fits. Can you keep wearing your maternity clothes? The belly band will probably continue to support you as your body goes from post-pregnancy to mommy-bod.” But in this case, the solution that she needed was at a much deeper level, because after pregnancy clothing can become more tied to emotions than it may appear on the surface. Think about it: if your customer isn’t pregnant anymore, why would she want to wear clothes that tell the world she’s pregnant? Does this make her feel good about her body? Probably not.

In the book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard the Heath brothers explain the concept of decision-making as a rider and an elephant. As humans, we have two ways to make decisions: logical, and emotional. If you have a person riding an elephant, the person represents logical decisions, and the elephant represents emotional decisions. While the rider may think they’re in control, the elephant can easily overpower the rider and do whatever it wants. Emotional decisions are the same: they’re very strong, and they take control more than we realize (You know that feeling of a “gut decision?”). Therefore, tapping into that inner decision-making process and solving the emotional problem that lies within your client is going to make a huge impact on growing your community.

 The rider may seem like they're in charge, but they're definitely not. Emotional decisions are much more powerful than intellectual decisions.

The rider may seem like they’re in charge, but they’re definitely not. Emotional decisions are much more powerful than intellectual decisions.

Marketing for a new business can feel really heavy, especially if it’s sort of unknown. Between traditional marketing, digital marketing, and all the related pieces (affiliate marketing, influencer marketing, social media, SEO, PR, the works), there’s a lot to keep track of. The key to it all is figuring out what’s right for you and, more importantly, what’s right for the members of your community and tribe. You definitely don’t have to take it on all at once, but grow it slowly to see what works.

If you’re dealing with some big marketing questions, or just don’t know where to start, drop us a line at You might even get a good ole q&a sesh right here on the blog!

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Hi there, I'm Cat Bradley

Founder of SewEthico, systems enthusiast, marketing expert, and nonprofit career alum. I help women founders build their first marketing departments and structure their company around their clients, so they can grow, prove traction, and gain funding for their mission-driven businesses. Get my support to grow your business

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