by: Royce Fitzgerald
With over 30 years of experience in the advertising and design industry, Fitzgerald currently owns and operates Four Leaf Creative, Inc. (FLC) in Fort Smith, AR. Since 2006 FLC has been serving a wide variety of clients locally and nationally.
There’s nothing like knowing that the business you worked so hard to build will be cared for and fostered by your own family. Sense of pride, enthusiasm and common goals are all points of great satisfaction. You’ve built something of value that can sustain your family for years to come.
Like any worthwhile investment you want to protect the business and make sound decisions that benefit, not hamper, its growth. At the same time you want to ensure that the family stays involved in various aspects of the business. But at times you might not be sure if a family member is cut out or qualified for a specific responsibility.
Such is often the case with the marketing and advertising area of the business. When the need is recognized, the inclination is to simply rely on the family member who knows something about Photoshop or has experience dabbling in social media because after all, they only need the ability to type some words and place some pictures, right? And besides, one of your youngest draws pretty well and seems to know how to outsmart a smart-phone, so it’s a perfect fit!
Surprisingly, that is a common approach to a truly valuable and complex area of any business with aspirations of growth and stability. Perhaps your heart pulls you to decide one thing but your brain pulls you to decide another. When it comes to marketing and advertising, your organization’s long-term security will come from relying more on business sense, not so much on emotion.
Although your energetic, young, inexperienced family member may want to jump right in and tackle what they perceive to be marketing, chances are that they have no idea what they are really up against. Rather than feeding them to the lions, think about contracting one or more professionals and bring your family member in to observe and listen during marketing meetings for a while to learn the ropes. There is much to understand about this field and many of us who have been in it for decades are still learning.
In the event that you are fortunate to have a family member with experience or education in marketing and or design, then you certainly want to capitalize on that experience. And it’s a great opportunity for them to apply their knowledge and experience toward something about which they are enthusiastic. That’s a win win!
It’s true that your family has more knowledge of the business than an outside marketing and or design firm but the value of a marketing / advertising / design firm is their ability to position your company to maximize your advertising and promotion dollars, and probably net you better results.
Additionally, if that member of your family is tasked with producing all the promotional material for the business, they need to understand there is much more to creating effective materials than typing words and placing pictures. Students who attend college or technical school for this career path are required to attend a minimum of two very demanding years of training and education. That’s only to get a foot in the door. After that, the REAL education begins.
Your company’s reputation is too important to skimp on things like branding, messaging, strategy, execution, public perception and the like — you just can’t take a chance on damage that could take years from which to recover.
Imagine. You own a bakery and you want to offer a new treat to the public with hopes of gaining an edge over your competition. You lay the responsibility on an employee who has more experience eating than anyone else on your staff, so you figure this person could surely make a tasty treat that everyone will like. Without hesitation this employee whips up a batch of “winkie-doodles” and proudly displays them with all the other goodies only to learn later on that nobody responded to them as expected. Now you have a bad batch of “winkie-doodles” and who knows how many unhappy customers who, in turn, warn their friends away from your bakery.
It doesn’t take a genius to see the compounding problems here. The same scenario can happen if your marketing efforts are not handled with a certain degree of experience.
Growing a business takes time. Often it’s a learning experience for everyone involved — even the owners and senior personnel. So if you feel it’s necessary to keep the promotional aspect of your business in the family, give it time to grow. It truly is a sizable responsibility requiring monetary investment as well as time. Give that employee a good foundation by allowing them to learn from those with experience. The long term pay-off will outweigh the short term investment and you’ll have a stronger family business in the end.
With over 30 years experience in advertising and design, Royce Fitzgerald currently owns and operates Four Leaf Creative, Inc. (FLC) in Fort Smith. Since 2006, FLC has been serving a wide variety of clients, locally and nationally. Learn more at fourleafcreative.com