MONDAY MORNING MUNCHIE
Here's a freebie, an off-topic post that has nothing to do with our business plan posts (well, alright, just a little) that I thought some of you might enjoy. I'd like to make this a habit -a weekly or biweekly thing that you can look forward to. Something offtrack, but useful. A small bite to get you going, without filling you up.
This week's MMM is a list of things NOT to do when marketing your small business.
1.) Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Don't spend all your budget on just one ad, or on a series of ads, or on one type of marketing. I have a blog and a website. I'm on Twitter (and steadily gaining followers, too!) I utilize email marketing. I send out direct response sales letters. I network. I have flyers posted on community bulletin boards out and about in my area. I volunteer time to churches and non-profits. I'm creating a monthly newsletter. I have an account on Guru.com. I write and publish press releases and marketing articles, both in print locally and online. In short, I've diversified my marketing efforts about as much my time and resources will allow. And I get clients. Putting all your resources in one place just isn't smart, and it isn't very effective.
2.) Not taking stock. You'll notice that I don't run classified ads in my newspaper, or do much paid advertising, period. It just didn't have the Return on Investment I needed to continue. I knew this because I always take a look at the results of my marketing efforts, to see where I can improve, what's a waste of my time and effort, and what's simply not working at all. I can tell you that Guru isn't always the kindest place in the world, but it has brought a few projects and I keep bidding on proposals for that reason. The newspaper gets me more business through the press releases and articles I publish than it did through the expensive ad I bought. G o figure......
3.) Leaping before you look. (This is the part that has to do with business plans, BTW.) Marketing your business without a goal or end result in focus can lead to scattering instead of a direct hit. A marketing plan will help you know what to do and when. It will also help you know how much you can afford to spend when trying a new marketing venture. Without it, you may just find that you've jumped off a marketing cliff without a parachute.
4.) Keeping your feet on too-solid ground. On the other hand, if your marketing plan is too strict, too inflexible (or you are too fanatical about following it to the every letter) you can miss opportunities that you may not have known about or thought of when creating the plan. You can also keep walking in circles if you continue with a marketing venture that isn't producing. Marketing plans are just that - PLANS - they are there as guidelines, not regulations.
5.) If it ain't broke, don't fix it. All to often, small business owners will scrap something that's been producing results for something new, or something different. It's great to try new things, but not at the expense of something that's been proven tried and true. If your newspaper ad works for you, keep it up. If you want to try a website and join the Web community, do it when you afford the added expense and time. Don't toss the ad that's getting you results.
6.) Keep it simple, stupid. Or - don't let yourself get in the way of your success. Don't get all flashy and trendy just because you like the newest style. Don't place ads in markets that you like, but may not appeal to your customers. Don't forget that it's really all about your customers and not about you. A good example of this is a generations-old firm I know that was recently taken over by the newest young blood in the family. He wanted to take the firm's marketing in the high-tech direction - podcasts, video website, social media, you name it. Problem was, most of the firm's customers aren't that plugged in. They are mostly middle-aged business people with their own well-established companies. True, they do utilize the web, and some even order from the companies website. Most, if not all, have mobile phones of one variety or another. But, they just aren't into text messages about new inventory shipments. They aren't the kind of folks with MySpace pages. The young guy was all gung-ho to take his family's firm into the 21st century, but he forgot that most of his clients are still fairly grounded in the 20th.
7.) Leaping before you look - part 2. If you go forward with a new marketing venture without some sort of research, you may find another cliff passing quickly by on your way down. I placed a very nice ad in a newspaper in another town, only to find out that there were already 5 small marketing firms in business there. The market for marketing was pretty well tied up. A simple Internet search of the chamber of commerce would've told me it wasn't a good idea before I did it, but I didn't bother to take the time. Lesson learned.
8.) Quitting when things get tight. A lot of small business people see the marketing budget as expendable, especially when sales slow. BIG mistake. The very last thing you want to do when things start heading south is to quit trying to bring in new customers. There are so many free and inexpensive ways to market your firm that even if you don't have the money, you can still get your name out there. Want to know my marketing budget? $25 a month. And it works. I get clients. maybe not LOTS of clients, but then my business is still in its first year and I'm really just starting to grow, in both sales and client numbers. I spend a great deal of time on marketing efforts, but that's for the next tip.
9.) Not prioritizing marketing resources. Every business person should be spending 75 - 80% of their time, efforts and resources on marketing. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. It doesn't matter if you have an established firm, or are still wet behind the ears. Not allocating enough time, money and effort to marketing is short-changing yourself. NO business is so big, so well established, so profitable, that it doesn't have the need for marketing. Coco-Cola and McDonald's still run ads, don't they? 'Nuff said.
10.) Not knowing when to quit. Now, don't take this the wrong way, but if you aren't getting the results you want trying to do it yourself, maybe it's time to throw in the towel and get help. Hire a marketer. Find a freelance copywriter to write your next sales letter. It's what we do. And if you want to hire me, well.........go ahead. Say you saw it on Visions and I'll give you a discount. Honest. It's what I do.