Business owners often learn about marketing, like a lot of teens learn about sexual education. They either:
- Get advice from their friends (who might not know much about marketing, but they say it confidently)
- Read random articles on the internet
- Government Programs
- Wait until the moment happens, and see what works
And just like sex, everyone gets excited about the TACTICS of marketing; The latest tool/trend/gimmick, but no one really wants to understand the consequences or details of how it all works.
And lets end the sex analogy here.
Lets go through the 4 ways people learn about marketing and dissect exactly why they aren't working:
Getting advice from your business friends
Otherwise known as: The Blind Leading the Blind.
The premise: If you are unsure of what to do to market your business, it would seem obvious to find a business that you know and trust, and sort of follow what they are doing. If John's 2 million dollar business was all done through Facebook posting, that I should probably be doing that too.
"When I switched to doing Facebook ads, I started getting 10-20 leads a day!"
"The best thing I ever did was get on Instagram. That's where all the clients are these days!"
"Every Business needs to join a Business Networking group. Almost all my leads come through word of mouth"
The problem: What works for John's business, might not work for yours. And there is no magic bullet that cures all businesses problems. Otherwise, everyone would be doing it.
You have a different location, brand, style, personality, skill set, product…. and the types of clients that you attract are also completely different than John's. What often happens in these situations is someone hears of a fancy new tactic, they try it out, lose a lot of money, and then think that it doesn't work for them.
The solution: When you hear of a new tactic or way to market yourself from a trusted source, definitely consider it!
But to avoid spinning your wheels for another couple of months or wasting your money, we recommend starting with a good marketing foundation like a "Buyer Persona" & "Buyer's Journey", and then figuring out what tool or tactic would best suit delivering to that person.
Random Articles on the Internet
Minus this one of course!
The Premise: Everything you need to master learning about marketing is out on the internet for free, therefore a few key google searches or articles by my favorite YouTube personality should do the trick!
The problem: There is no real problems with articles online. In fact, as a business owner YOU MUST be educating yourself on marketing
But business owners don't have a lot of time and they often have short attention spans. (have you ever seen how many people watch a video to the end? Almost never happens!) The problem happens when a business owner only reads a few articles here or there, or they keep getting distracted by the guru's promoting their quick fix to 10x their customers with their magical free webinar/program.
What happens is a business owner reads until they feel they know enough, or that they get overwhelmed and uncomfortable and just stop altogether.
The Solution: If you are a business owner, your actual main job is marketing and sales. The only reason you have a business is because you have a Marketing Department (You) and a Sales Department (also you).
If you want to be like every other business waiting for customers to come to them through word of mouth, that's totally fine. But if you take your business seriously, you need to be in marketing. Or at least the 'Head of the Marketing Department' and get someone doing it for you. And to do that you got to READ. Watch videos, and take courses.
Set aside time every week for SERIOUS study, and compare what you are learning to other people.
If you don't educate yourself, the only option open to you is to blindly trust some sales guy to part you with your money, or go back to the first problem of listening to random friends and hoping what works for them will work for you.
The Premise: Free programs are great, and I will be equipped with all that I need to get my small business started.
The Problem: Government programs are a good starting spot for advice, connecting with local services (often the people running these programs have deep community connections), and even getting some grants, or access to loans you might not otherwise be able to get.
This is all good stuff
Talking with business owners who go through these programs, the biggest complaint is not that the advice that they were given was terrible, but that they thought that the training or direction they were going to get out of it would be all that they needed. And when they hit the real world, that they had a lot more learning to do.
Where they fall short is the same problem with any sort of Government Program: Lack of adaptability to a changing marketplace, and accountability for results. Without the pressure of having to live or die by their advice, often times the advice and knowledge given through a government program is just behind the curve in what is working today.
The Solution: My personal opinion is that there is a lot more value in online training from reputable business coaches, or if you can afford it, a 1 on 1 business adviser. A $500-1500 investment in an online course while more costly than a free government program, will give you a more "battle tested" toolkit to getting business results.
In business, your time is the most valuable asset you have, and wasting a year or two slowly growing off of average advice, is more costly then spending the cash up front and getting a proven plan to grow your business.
Wait until the moment happens and see what works
The Premise: If what I'm doing now is working, and I'm comfortable with it… why even bother wasting a lot of time or money on things that might not pan out?
The Problem: When things are good. No problem. But when the market changes, a recession hits, or what used to work is no longer working… you put yourself in a vulnerable position. If you don't have a lot of time or money to invest into a new way to get clients, what options are you going to have?
Often times what happens is you get stuck in a loop of always going after the quick fix, which ultimately doesn't get you the results you're looking for.
The Solution: I watched a great video by a prolific marketer called Gary Vaynerchuk. He outlined what he called the "79/21" rule. Which is, go all in on the strategy that is getting you clients today. With 79% of your attention. But leave 21% of your resources free to taste other social media platforms, marketing campaigns or advertising vehicles.
This way, when the market shifts, you aren't left scrambling to catch up.
Another reason the "If it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality, is that the BIGGEST opportunities are for those that are first to a new platform. When Google ads were new you could get clicks for 1 cent. Now you are lucky to get 10-20 DOLLARS per click.
You don't go all in one unproven marketing, but we all know the dangers of only having one basket.