Have you ever wondered, “Do I really need a Marketing or PR agency? Can’t I just do everything myself?” If so, this posts—and the next four that follow—are for you.

Last week, I was on a call with an advisor who asked me those exact questions about working with a PR agency. He told me, he could just write his own press releases and send them out across the wire himself.

“I can do the same thing you do,” he said.

I told him: No, you can’t. 
He took some convincing. Until that phone call, the only things he had ever seen coming out of a PR agency were poorly written press releases sent over for his approval. We gave him a glimpse of what really happens behind the scenes. We had to show all our work: the messaging, the strategizing, nurturing relationships with reporters, outreach, follow-up, and then more follow-up. Eventually, I did convince him, but the conversation was exhausting.

Surely there’s a better way.

Then the perfect analogy occurred to me: I felt the way advisors do when they have to explain the value of human expertise to DIY investors. You know the type of people I’m describing. They believe advice is a commodity. Anything you can do, they can do better—or else, their robot can.

It’s very hard to convince these investors that human advisors add real value. That’s because they can do just fine without one—for a while.  Everything goes along swimmingly, as they pat themselves on the back for being so hip and modern. Until suddenly, something big hits the fan. The market drops. Life circumstances change. They stumble and make a bad mistake, because they misunderstood some complex issue. They miss out on huge savings from a sophisticated tax strategy, because they’ve never heard of it. At long last, they finally realize the value of working with a human advisor—but it’s too late.

This analogy goes to the heart of the problem. It’s one thing to thoroughly vet your vendors. In fact, I encourage advisors to ask probing questions and spell out every detail in their contracts. But it’s an entirely different matter to openly doubt that a human expert adds any value at all. Because if you do, you’re undercutting your own value proposition as a live human advisor. What if your clients thought the same way about you?

All that said, not every advisor should work with a marketing or PR agency—just as not every investor should work with an advisor. How do you know if you can build a productive vendor relationship—or if going it alone better suits your style? In the next few posts, I’m going to discuss three questions you should address before hiring a marketing or PR agency:

  • Are you really open to listening to advice? Everybody likes to think they’re open-minded. But we’ve found 5 warning signs that an advisor may not be ready to let go.
  • Are you prepared to talk to a vendor?  If you want to get what you need from your vendor, you’ll have to do some homework first. I’ve put together a checklist.
  • Do you understand what an agency really does? Marketing is not as simple as you think. The better you understand it, the more you’ll recognize its value—and be able to make informed decisions about outsourcing.

Success depends on finding the right solution for your needs. My next posts should help you do just that.