I have lately seen an influx of small business owners showing signs of great enthusiasm when it comes to marketing. I think many are feeling a breath of fresh air and a glimmer of hope in the market turning around. This influx has been coupled with a commonality - urgency and no plan. They often think they have a plan because they have a piece of paper that they have jotted down all their marketing ideas written down. This list can often contain upward of 10 to 25 initiatives.
The question I always like to ask is, what have you done over the last six months on a consistent basis? The question is greeted with one of two answers -
- I'm just starting to think about marketing.
- I've done many things, but I guess not really on a consistent basis and I really didn't track any of those efforts.
Do you see the problem here?
I love the enthusiasm of small businesses like anyone else, but this is often where they run into trouble. In the last 6 months, we've had two clients come to us very excited to move forward in marketing and of course we always suggest a marketing plan first. This is often a discovery phase for us, but it also allows us to help reign in the ambitious entrepreneur. We don't want to put out the fire, we just want to contain it so that it's effective in accomplishing the goals and objectives they've set forth.
In some cases the long list of ideas and even the mildest case of Entrepreneur ADHD can be a risk to a business. How do you know if your marketing enthusiasm is putting your business at risk?
Review the following statements and see if you can select True to more than three.
- I have not put my full focus in at least one marketing initiative in at least the last three months. (True/False)
- My marketing task lists continues to grow and I'm trying new things, but I can't trace any success to my bottom line. (True/False)
- I talk to at least two to three outsourced marketing providers weekly and have engaged at least three in the last quarter. (True/False)
- I don't know how much I have spent in marketing in the last six months, I'll have to sit down and calculate it. It may take me a bit. (True/False)
- I've canceled a marketing initiative after research, but before starting it, because I heard there was something better and now I can't decide what to do. (True/False)
- I don't measure or qualify any of my marketing efforts, I just know they work. (True/False)
As a small business owner, it is important to market your product or service but you must approach it strategically and with knowledge. We know that small business owners and entrepreneurs can have what we call the "shiny lure" syndrome. It's easy for you to get distracted and in doing so marketing can be thrown off and not nearly as effective as it could be if you had a marketing plan to follow and a strategy to work from.
How can you protect your business and ensure you use marketing strategies that will grow your business?
4 Safeguards Small Businesses Can't Be Without When it Comes to Marketing
- Know where you stand.
What have you done? How as that worked for you? Are you seeing results from current marketing initiatives? A common phrase we often hear is "knowledge is power." That stands true for marketing as well. When you know what has worked and what hasn't worked you can make educated decisions and not be caught off guard with the latest trends. Know where you stand, so that you can make the right decisions.
- Have a budget.
Having a marketing budget doesn't limit you, it actually empowers you. When you know how much you can spend on marketing and you stay within that budget it will lower your stress level and help you develop a plan and strategy that will work for you without breaking the bank and not realizing it until it's too late.
- Be knowledgeable when it comes to your target market.
Know where your target market is, what media outlets they use. Understand where they are searching for businesses like yours. Know their needs and know how to present your marketing message in a way that makes them take action.
- Review your marketing plan every three months.
I suggest a 90 day marketing plan, the reason for this is it will force you to sit down and review your marketing in a formal manner. Reviewing your marketing plan with your marketing team will help you to be diligent and watch where you spend your marketing dollars as well as track how effective your marketing campaigns are.