I get it. Times are tough.
And this mistake is a very common one; a lot of people either are confused about where to start or don’t have the time or money for this activity.
But if they don’t do this one thing for their small business, they may as well kiss that business goodbye.
What is this one thing? It’s marketing.
Marketing is probably the single most important activity a business could do. Click To Tweet
It’s all about marketing
Marketing is probably the single most important activity a business could do. Simply put, it’s the process of getting your product or services in front of people. It generates awareness, builds trust, creates desire, and ultimately, results in sales. It’s how people find out about your business.
Granted, there’s a difference between marketing research/strategy and what I’m talking about here. What we’re talking about is what you do to make others aware of your business. That’s it. You can think of it as advertising if you’d like, but it’s much bigger than that.
But it boils down to this: no marketing, no customers. Period.
You may very well have the best widget or service in your state, but it won’t matter if no one knows about it. Long gone are the days of “if you build it, they will come.”
So it’s imperative to the health of your business that you never stop marketing. The most common mistake I see small businesses make is that they’ll try their hand at marketing in one channel, but when it fails to produce the results they were hoping for, they quit altogether.
What most people don’t realize is that it’s the slow and steady race. Think a marathon, not a sprint. Successful marketing is constant, and utilizes various channels, which I’ll explain in a minute. But first let’s cover why the mistake of one-off marketing never works.
Why off-and-on-again marketing doesn’t work
Marketing your business is like going to the gym. Let’s say you work out 5 days a week for a month. You start seeing results, whether it’s losing a few pounds or gaining some muscle or endurance. And then you stop and relax, since you think you’re done now.
I bet you know what happens next.
Those inches start to creep back on, and those 3 flights of stairs start to feel like 10. What happened? You stopped going to the gym, that’s what happened. In order to see long term, consistent results, working out needs to be consistent.
Same exact thing with marketing. When you first start marketing your business, you’ll probably get some results in. Great, you think, now I can stop with this whole marketing thing since it’s time consuming and costs money. Besides, you have some new clients or sales to keep you busy.
So the marketing slacks off. But pretty soon, those new customers are old customers and you don’t have any fresh ones to replace them. The pipeline essentially dries up. It’s only then, when you feel the pain, do you start marketing again. And you follow this pattern month after month.
This is otherwise known as the feast or famine cycle, which is vicious and hard to break out of, but there’s a way.
Never stop marketing.
That’s right, don’t let up, even for a second. Even when you think you’re sold out or scheduled out, keep marketing. Even if you’re a Fortune 500 company.
Ever notice how these huge, successful, monopoly companies still keep marketing themselves?
I always think about Coca-Cola. They have world domination in the marketplace for their product; they’re a classic staple. But they have ads everywhere. Billboards, everywhere. Sponsorships, everywhere.
During Superbowl, they always spend millions of dollars for that coveted 30-second spot. Why? Because they know, in order to stay #1, they must market. Constantly.
Now why should your small business be any different or special from them?
Obviously, you don’t have millions to drop on a Superbowl ad. That’s okay, there’s still plenty of ways to market your business successfully. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:
- Go to networking events, and hand out your business card
- Run a magazine or newspaper ad
- Write a blog post for your website
- Get on social media
- Run a local radio or television ad
- Rent a booth at an expo or tradeshow
- Do a press release
- Try Pay-Per-Click ads
- Host a workshop or webinar
- Send out direct mail
- Pass out flyers
- Optimize your site for search engines
- List your business in directories
- Be involved in online forums
So you see, marketing doesn’t need to cost millions or even thousands of dollars.
All that’s important is that you do it, and never stop.
Even if you don’t see results for a while, keep at it. I know it can be discouraging, and I’ll admit, in the beginning if you’re new to this, you will make some minor mistakes. But once you try different things, you’ll see what works and what doesn’t. With marketing, a business should always have several different things going on at the same time; don’t put all your eggs in one marketing basket.
Even if you don’t see results for a while, don't stop marketing your business. Click To Tweet
For example, I’m working on SEO, blogging, sending out newsletters, posting on Twitter and Facebook, running a radio ad, and just did a booth at a tradeshow. I’m staying busy, but it’s paying off, slowly but surely!
Going forward with the New Year, it’s vital to set marketing goals for your small business. I personally have a marketing plan with a weekly calendar that I got from the Marketing Mix store (it’s more for graphic designers, like me, but the principles work for everyone!).
With marketing, we must treat ourselves like our own customer or client. Schedule some time aside every day, or every week at least, to market your business. Literally. I pencil myself in my iCalendar, because if I don’t, I know it won’t happen.
The simple truth is, it’s time to embrace marketing. It’s not a chore; it’s investing back into your own business so it can grow and stay strong. Like everything else, you get out of it what you put in.
So, what are your favorite ways to market your business? What have you found to be the most effective? Do you have any marketing goals for this year?