September 9, 2016
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.” John Wanamaker nailed it back in the late 1800s when he summed up just about every small business owners’ feeling toward marketing their businesses at some point.
Despite following all the rules – the recommended social media posting times, email best practices, and the like – you don’t seem to be any closer to getting the word out about your business and you’re flirting with the idea of giving up.
But not so fast.
If your marketing ROI up until this point has been underwhelming, it’s definitely time to take a good hard look at what you’re doing. But you also want to keep this in mind: marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Sure you can learn the tactics. You can spend the money. But reaching and shaping your ideal audience, cultivating trust and relationships, then being rewarded with sales commitments starts with your attitude toward marketing.
Do you view marketing as an investment or an expense?
Small business budgets are limited. And when the budget is tight, it seems only natural to tighten the belt. And of all the costs you incur in business, marketing is often one of the first items on the chopping block.
But marketing is an essential component of growing your business. And while it’s true that some companies never market and still achieve success, you’re taking a big chance assuming that’s going to be you.
Marketing isn’t a reactive trick play you run in the last few seconds of the game. For it to be effective, you have to go into business asking yourself questions like, “how will people find out about me?” and “do they see me as an authority in my field and if not, how can I get them to?”
The point is, the time to start asking those questions isn’t when sales are down. It’s before sales start, as sales are coming in, and when sales are in decline. Marketing looks different at each of those stages. Your strategy to address each stage will drive that picture.
Are you willing to financially commit to marketing?
If budget is truly a challenge for you, pursue funding. You can’t grow your company if you’re operating in survival mode all the time. If you’re able to secure additional funds, invest in your business by hiring a dedicated marketing professional to join your staff. Or, outsource the marketing function entirely to a qualified marketing company willing to embed themselves in the fabric of your brand and be as vested in your company’s growth as you are.
The way you market yourself matters. Be disciplined and strategic about how you spend your marketing dollars. Allocate funds to only the strategies that best support your business goals. This will limit waste and increase your chances of seeing a positive ROI.
Do you believe in your business?
If you do, then put in the work. This doesn’t mean that you, as the owner, are managing social media or setting up email campaigns. In fact, that’s the last thing you should be doing.
But be excited about your brand and the value it has to offer. Develop the best product or service out there and, with confidence, invite people to experience what you already know. Everyone – employees, colleagues, partners, and potential customers – will follow your lead. If you’re unsure, so are they. And not only that, you’ll hold back in your marketing because you’re afraid that everyone will see the cracks.
So, do the work. Figure out who your customer is and what’s keeping them up at night. Then deliver the value your business offers using a marketing strategy built on clear and concise messaging and consistent touchpoints.
How could that type of marketing ever be a waste of time?