As a consultant, mentor, trainer and coach to small businesses around the country and world, I hear the same things every week.
“I rather tear the remaining hair from my scalp than do the marketing that my young marketing consultant suggests”
“This new style of online marketing troubles me – I am not sure that my values or my beliefs are well represented in the marketing”
“I am not seeing results from the $45,000 I spent six months ago and the consultant who sold me the package is essentially scratching his head perplexed; he keeps asking me if I did everything he asked me to do.”
“I posted five articles last week, but nobody read them – should I stop?”
“This guy who does these seminars – he says he can get me 45,000 likes on my Facebook page in three days and he can teach me how to do that for the gentle price of $3500 for four days: should I do it?”
Here are some things that I suggest.
1. Marketing for small business: Uphold your Self Expression, Values & Mission
Your self-expression, values, and mission statement should drive your marketing. If you don’t have a mission statement, create a draft statement for now; one that is simple, concise, and expresses clearly what you are up to. Use this mission statement to make decisions regarding your marketing. This will prevent you from spending money, effort, and time on marketing strategies that may sound good on the surface – but you may not be totally invested in – leading to a loss and eventual waste of investment.
There is a deeper reason for this. As entrepreneurs, we all have a sense of pride in what we created as a business and why we created it. The ‘why’ part is as close to our soul as we can get. To sell this soul of the business in the hope of a marketing breakthrough, maybe not only be painful – but devastating to the spirit of the enterprise – this may throw your center off which in turn may lead to further bad decision-making in the long run.
2. Marketing for small business: Pay attention to ROI and Risk in your options
What is the guessed return on investment (how much return, in what time frame, and how much to invest in time and money?) for each marketing option in front of you. Then assess the risk; mostly opportunity cost –i.e. the potential returns you may forego if you did alternative marketing strategies or plans. This may not give you an exact answer –it should not! However, it will keep you conscious of other perspectives and information regarding making a clear decision for selecting the best marketing approaches.
3. Marketing for small business: If they are promising the moon, run for the hills
If the marketing consultant is promising large results in a short period of time; ask for a promise or guarantee with money returnable. Also, ask for a specific plan with milestones and an explanation of why these strategies would pertain to your marketing style and niches.
4. Marketing for small business: Most things take longer than expected
If someone mentions a timeline for your results to come through, add and buffer at least a few months more. Even if you have a fast-moving consultant or marketing person, consider your brain bandwidth and the other projects that you have on your plate to reset expectations.
Far better to be realistic than to train yourself to consistently fail at hitting objectives (and casting yourself as an over-optimistic leader to your team).
5. Marketing for small business: Look for consultants who will work with you by running alongside with you
Be wary of consultants who merely educate without a willingness to dive into the trenches with you. My friend Bill Belew and I are of the same ilk – we like to work with our people and roll up our sleeves with them.
This provides us with real-time feedback on our efforts, so we can improve our own processes and truly give our best to our clients; yes, we do education as well in some of our programs, but we make it clear as to what the expectations and reasonable objectives are.
As a fellow business owner, I would rather have someone who worked with me consistently to help me through the details and nuances, than someone who gives me an abstraction of what ‘should really work’ and then leave me alone to deal with the complexities.
It is time for us as business owners to put our foot down and say ‘I am not going to take it anymore’ to marketing consultants who leave us with abstractions only. It is time for us to demand more and receive more real support – support that is done in true partnership and that yields real results.
Since 1991, I’ve been reflecting on, designing, and implementing methodologies and systems for bringing a transcendent, creative and innovative approach to critical aspects of entrepreneurship.