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Ask HN: How to outsource marketing for my bootstrapped 'lifestyle business'?
7 points by manishsharan on Oct 8, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 7 comments
I am bootstrapping my 'lifestyle business'. I have a good product in a mature market: traction will be slow to come and I am running low on my savings and I don't want to blow them on expensive adwords. SEO with long tail keyword will take a long time to convert. I am thinking I should take a contract job 9-5 and outsource marketing and promotion to someone else. I know this is a bad idea but bills have to be paid. Has anyone done this before ? who do you outsource to ? What does it cost ?Please share.

Are you doing any sales/bizdev work at all? Like identifying potential customers, and calling them? Or e-mailing them? Or finding forums your customers spend time at, and participating there? Making deals with other products your customers use to cross-promote?

Writing on a blog nobody reads isn't going to do much for you. The way content gets backlinks typically involves the people who write it hustling just as much to get those links: posting them themsleves, talking to influential people who can share them, running contests and giveaways, guest posting for exposure. Content creation is less than half of the work of successfully using content marketing for customer acquisition.

You can't really outsource this stuff at the beginning IMO. Nobody else is going to have the knowledge and the passion to get those early customers for you. You need to be in the loop personally to hear the rejections and see how your product is being used to know how to move it forward and how to market it more effectively.

> I don't want to blow them on expensive Adwords

As a marketer this bothers me. While I assume I am completely oversimplifying this statement, an ongoing bug bear of mine is business that treats marketing as an expense. Marketing is an investment. It should be treated and monitored as you would your investments. Adwords ads are not expensive, they have a positive or negative ROI/ROMI. It doesn't matter if a click cost $1 or $1,000, its about the following profit you get back from that click. You need to understand how you track + what your avg revenues and margins are. Adwords (and other channels) should never be expensive, they should be positive or negative returning assets.

Your questions;

> Has anyone done this before? I've on both sides of contracting marketing. It makes sense to pay for specialization if you can earn a reasonable salary elsewhere.

> who do you outsource to? Depends on what you need? Be careful going cheap. There is no industry accreditation and many people jump in selling promises they cant deliver. ALso yyou sound like you need someone that can advise you as much as 'do as I say' type contractor. Look for experience and someone that can show you specifically why they succeeded when they took of other marketing gigs. Don't go for the cheapest or biggest promise as an absolute.

> What does it cost ?Please share. As above, you can do affiliate type deals where you only pay for success. Or you may pay $5 to $500/hr depending on what you look for. Try not to go in too light on spend. If you want to spend $500 on advertising anyone decent will cost more than that alone setting up a solid performing campaign. People often test with small amounts, hire some low cost person and then decide 'marketing doesn't work'. You need to do a shotgun type approach where you blast tests across a bunch of channels/approaches, see where the profit pattern is for you to chase. Also when you budget budget a decent spend in addition to a person. I see businesses hire a marketing person and then allocate not budget. Thats a waste of money unless they are literately after a blogger/web developer in one and that's all you want.

I am discovering the hard way that adwords and seo are slow to convert. And there is so much content on almost every keyword out there and most of that stuff is regurgitated content. But those content have backlinks and so my blog posts never make it to google first page.

Marketing is about figuring out what channel best works for your business and then scaling it up (what Dan said). Unfortunately, you cannot outsource this, until you have figured the channels out and chosen a few to focus on. Once done, you can then get someone who has experience in optimizing that channel and scaling the campaign up efficiently.

Adwords is amazing for validating your idea, but with the increased competition, it is becoming too costly if your LTV is not very high.

SEO takes a very long time (three years) as your domain needs to build authority. I would not bother about it at all, till I achieve product-market fit.

Look for other channels that your competitors are ignoring - channels like forums, or facebook ads, cross-promoting with a complementary product. Spend a fixed amount on each channel - say $500. You can then figure out which channel works best for your business.

As an example, for my self funded business, I did all the marketing and dev work for a year and a half. I tried adwords, facebook & twitter ads, buying banners on various relevant websites and forum postings. Once I had figured out the channel that converted the best (in my case forum sales threads), I hired someone for doing all the work in that channel.

If you want some suggestions on channels which might work, don't be afraid to mention your business here.

Thanks, I would appreciate all suggestions. My company is https://videocloudmanager.com and I am in online video platform market.we provide video hosting for business.

If this is a mature space because the channels are well defined. So the question is where do you expect paying users to come from? Have you gotten any successes with this approach? (Once you do, then it will make sense to get someone else to outsource the work to).

If you are building a video hosting service for businesses, do you know what they think of your business?

One suggestion would be getting someone unbiased to look at your competitors websites and your website and to pick who the top 2-3 solutions that they would evaluate.

If bills have to be paid, then pick up a job. But before you spend it on someone else, make sure that you are spending it on something that will have results.

One thought is if your product is in a mature space, I would recommend innovating with the channel. Maybe target a lower cost do-it-yourself customer? You will want your marketing (design, pricing, outreach/ads, and feature additions) to line up with that.

Take the job. Spend 30-60 minutes per day on marketing activities before or after work.

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