3 ways hiring marketing interns could hurt your small business

Taking on an intern can be a cost-effective way to accomplish extra work, but it might not be the best idea for organizations with limited staff. One marketer offers reasons to say no.

Entrepreneurs are used to operating on limited budgets.

Not spending money on marketing or delaying an effort until your organization earns enough to support a full campaign can be dangerous. A marketing budget—no matter how small—should be a key component of your early financial planning.

When outlining your budget, you might consider hiring a communications or social media intern. Although this theoretically solid strategy could keep costs low and contribute to your marketing efforts, it’s more likely to hurt your business.

Here are three reasons:

1. Interns lack industry knowledge.

The goal for many interns is to acquire knowledge while in a given position. Often this means they are coming to you green, seeking guidance. Interns can be inexpensive to hire, but they lack a deep understanding of your industry—or the work environment generally.

Sharing your knowledge, contacts and strategies can be time-consuming—and often outweighs the low-priced labor.

2. Sooner or later (and usually sooner), interns leave.

An average PR or marketing internship lasts from three to six months. For a small-business owner on a budget, committing resources to teaching your processes or sales strategy to a short-timer can hurt you.

Once your intern starts to build relationships with customers or establishes a sense of your brand’s voice, their stint could be over. Then you must start anew with the next intern.

The traditional internship cycle isn’t beneficial to small operations. Without the staff to help you, continually training new hires might prove too much to handle. RELATED: EVENT: Practical tips for internal communications teams with limited resources.

3. Lack of time often means lack of bonding.

The concept of bonding is important in marketing. Successful marketers will often find ways to connect to their product as well as to their target audience. Involving an intern in your communications efforts can hinder your success and can damage potential client relationships.

Each time an intern leaves, the bonds they’ve established will suffer. Rebuilding trust with your customer(s) can be costly—and it’s likely that your organization’s finances can’t withstand the pressure.

Before hiring an intern, consider what one will cost you in time, success and revenue.

Susanna Gebauer is half of TheSocialMs , a content and social media marketing company focused on entrepreneurs and small businesses. A version of this post first appeared on her blog.

(Image by Howard Terpning, via)

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