We live in a DIY culture. My HG TV habit is proof of that. And don’t even get me started on WebMD - that is one scary rabbit hole. But just because you can “do it yourself” doesn’t always mean you should. The things professionals do look easy, but you can quickly get into trouble without the right tools at hand.

So imagine the following communications scenario in the context of visiting the doctor:

1. You are increasingly concerned that your company is facing some external marketing/communications challenges (these are the symptoms that prompt you to visit the doctor).

2. So you start to poke around online for strategies to help you with your challenge (this is your WebMD search).

3. Your search results in a couple of marketing tactics you could try (these might be the medical home remedies - aspirin, rest, ice, compression, elevation, etc.).

4. You try them, but your symptoms still don’t go away (time to visit the doctor).

5. You call your favorite local communications firm and tell them you are experiencing communications challenges and that you need a new website to fix them and can they do that for you (you go to the doctor and tell them you have diagnosed your symptoms and you need surgery).

Wait. What? The doctor is going to require diagnostic testing to makes sure he or she prescribes the right treatment. Your marketing/communications partner should do the same.

Have you found yourself saying any of the following:

• Recruitment has been a challenge... let’s host a job fair.

• We’re hosting a job fair, let’s put an ad in the newspaper. Or on Facebook.

• No one attended our job fair, marketing doesn’t work. (Gasp!)

• Employees aren’t understanding the new initiative, send an email.

• I don’t like our logo anymore, we should update it.

• It’d be good to have some more customers, we should probably do more trade shows.

Self-diagnosing your communication challenges is like building a house without a floor plan. Or treating a broken bone without an X-ray. Or trying to repair a piece of equipment without diagnosing the root cause of the malfunction.

Here are some reasons why self-diagnosing is dangerous:

Lack of expertise: You know your business better than anyone else. There is no doubt about that. It’s why you have the little feeling in your gut telling you something is off in your communications efforts, whether internal with employees or external with customers. Now it’s time to involve an expert in marketing and communications to help your initiative be as successful as possible.

Loss of time and money: Doing it yourself is not as cost-effective as you might think. It takes a great deal of time and effort to create communications programs that are truly effective. You may also be taking away valuable time away from doing what it is you are really expert in doing, your core responsibilities. This diversion can have a negative impact on your sales and other areas of your business

Random Acts of Marketing: Self-diagnosing leads to random acts of marketing. To have the best impact for your business, marketing should be connected to your business goals and growth plans, and thought about holistically, rather than consisting of a series of trials and errors.

Lack of focus: You are so focused in your day-to-day operations that you are spread too thin. It is hard to see the forest through the trees when you are the rabbit. You need someone who can fly over the trees to see the bigger picture and give you a greater perspective. A trusted advisor will give you that objective outside perspective.

Wrong place, wrong time: While you don’t have to be everywhere at once, you do have to be in the right place at the right time with the right message to resonate with your target audience. Whether it be new customers, current customers, new recruits or existing employees, you have to understand how to share your message in a meaningful way.

When you self-diagnose you’re looking through your own filter and you run the risk of getting the diagnosis wrong. This can cost your company time, money, resources and stress! That feeling in your gut is probably right… now go find an expert to help diagnose the real challenge and prescribe a solution that will take your company further, faster!