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Businesses face all kinds of challenges in digital marketing today. Which social networks should you participate in? Is your site optimized for search? Will you get any qualified traffic if you run a paid search campaign? Are your landing pages converting? Are you keeping up with the latest changes Google made to its search algorithm? There are enough challenges to overwhelm even the most experienced business owner. But for many businesses, they aren’t the greatest challenge they face.

Uncle Bobby is.

Who Is Uncle Bobby?

A few years back, I had the opportunity to pitch a prospective client on ways we could improve their organic search position (SEO). As I headed into the meeting, I noticed that

Is Uncle Bobby sabotaging your digital marketing

Uncle Bobby is calling, but you may not want to answer.

the business owner had a phone positioned at a chair in the conference room. And on the other end of the line was “Uncle Bobby.” Uncle Bobby was a relative of the business owner. And since Uncle Bobby had built a few Web sites, the owner asked him to sit in on the presentation.

As I presented the plan and the options that were available to help his company better connect with its target audience, Uncle Bobby would jump in at the conclusion of each recommendation and simply say “well, I can do that. And I can do it for free since I’m family.”

The business owner really liked the ideas that were presented. He noted that they made sense and he could see how they would significantly improve their position. He thanked me for the presentation and the time and let us know that he’d get back in touch with us soon.

The business owner did get back in touch soon thereafter. He got in touch to let us know that he agreed with the ideas. And, he had asked Uncle Bobby to implement them. Needless to say, I was a little frustrated, but I understand that it comes with the territory. The decision always belongs to the business owner and, in the end, he made the decision to use a no-cost option to advance his business.

Except it wasn’t truly “no-cost.” You see, Uncle Bobby had oversold his skills and abilities and was unable to do any of the work. Unfortunately, when I later checked in with that business, I found that nothing had been done. At all. Which ultimately means that the no-cost option likely cost the business owner a lot of sales and revenue.

In my career, I’ve seen more than a few business owners elect to use the services of their own “Uncle Bobby.” It may have been a nephew that “knows a few things about computers.” Or that next door neighbor that “took a class on search engine optimization.” Or perhaps it was an intern that “seems to know a lot about social media because they are young.” And in almost every instance, those decisions cost their businesses dearly.

The problem here isn’t Uncle Bobby. I’m sure he was a nice man that earnestly wanted to help a member of his family. I believe the problem is that the business owner elected to go with a cheap (cost and quality) alternative that couldn’t help meet the needs of the business.

Think of it this way: if you were having a hard time organizing and keeping your financial books in order, you wouldn’t turn them over to someone that “knows a little about math,” would you? Of course not! You would find an accountant or a skilled bookkeeper to help you with the problem. Because the survival of your business depends on it.

The same is true of digital marketing.

3 Ways to Keep Uncle Bobby From Sabotaging Your Digital Marketing

It would be easy for me to say that the straightforward solution is “don’t hire Uncle Bobby.” But for many business owners, especially small and medium-sized businesses, that’s a difficult position. Mainly because of cash flow. When cash flow is tight and you’re looking at two options for your digital marketing and one of them is no-cost (at least, no-cost up-front), then the no-cost option is very attractive. But how what are the alternatives to the siren song of Uncle Bobby? Here are three alternatives to Uncle Bobby that can help you find your way in the digital marketing spectrum.

  1. Develop a digital marketing strategy. Digital marketing strategies are a way to help you understand your position and to develop a plan of attack so you know what you need to work on and when. At Dijital Farm, we’ve helped clients create strategies that are straightforward and follow an implementation timeline. This makes it very clear for the business owner what they should do and when they should do it. It helps them plan for these costs so they bite off what they can when they can. And, it shows them the big picture of what they are after.
  2. Determine what you do really well (and what you don’t do well). Many business owners and entrepreneurs are used to having to wear a lot of hats. It comes with the territory, especially in the early stages of the business. This creates a lot of confidence in their ability to learn and do just about anything. But taking that approach into digital marketing is risky. I’m sure that many can learn the ins and outs of SEO, PPC, email marketing, social media and more. But is that the best use of your time? And, most importantly, does it get you to where you need to be as quickly as possible? Probably not. Find out which things you do really well. Stick to those. And find a trusted partner to help you with those areas you are less familiar with.
  3. Move slowly and set realistic goals. When getting started with digital marketing, it is tempting to try to do everything at once. And that’s a recipe for failure. Digital marketing has become very integrated in recent years. This means that doing something in one area can greatly impact another area. If you try to go too fast, you could sink the entire ship. At Dijital Farm, we talk a lot about cultivating your digital marketing footprint. Much like an agricultural farmer takes time to tend his crops so they have time to grow properly, we advocate taking the time to methodically grow your digital marketing presence. That’s how you build staying power. That’s how you find success.

Please understand. I don’t dislike Uncle Bobby. It’s just that I’m not sure he’s the right fit to help you grow your business. By focusing on the three steps above, I believe you will find success in your digital marketing efforts. And, in doing so, you just may make that next family gathering a little less stressful.

About Jon Parks

Jon Parks is the President and Lead Dijital Strategist of Dijital Farm, based in Raleigh, NC. In his role at Dijital Farm, Jon helps clients create digital marketing strategies focused on their business goals. His specialties include digital marketing strategy, social media strategy, Google AdWords campaigns and search engine optimization. Jon is also an instructor for ASPE-ROI where he teaches the Social Media Bootcamp, Google Online marketing Bootcamp, Mastering Google AdWords and the Social Media for Sales Teams classes. Connect with Jon on Google PlusTwitterLinkedIn, by email or by phone at (919) 901-0485.