Ok, this one is probably also going to raise the hackles of a lot of people who are of the ‘just do it’ school of thought, or from the ‘DIY everything for MVP and just launch’ camp.
And yes, there are always exceptions to the rule, and some people are very clear on their brand, their product and their strategy and they’re master networkers, great salesmen and have skills they can leverage and previous connections who can help them out.
These people can do things differently and often get away with spending way less and getting great results relatively fast. Not forgetting the hard work they’d have put in of course.
This post is about the traditional small business person who starts a business with no business, marketing, development or tech background, who leaves a job to start a business and who’s network consist of everyday people who don’t have those backgrounds either.
These types of people usually start a business with their savings, credit cards and sometimes even sell their houses.
And most often they start their businesses because they have a great idea, or they’re super passionate about doing something differently. But they haven’t done any kind of research or testing other than talking to friends.
These business owners haven’t read 7 Day startup and they’ve never heard of a 3-step sales funnel. They don’t know the difference between a landing page and a landing strip.
They generally choose a business name themselves, get a logo done up on 99 designs or through a friend of a friend who’s a graphic designer, they get business cards designed by the printers and get 1000 done up straight away.
Before they consider themselves in business they know they need a website, which as they don’t really know anything about this stuff, they ask around, do some googling and soon find themselves the proud owner of a $5-$10k site that’s as bland and beige and useless as a piece of brown paper with their contact details on it. Bt they don’t know any better and it looks modern so they think they’re all set.
A few DL flyers, some A4 brochures, some branded pens and sticky notes, car magnets and embroidered polo shirts and they’re ready to rock and roll.
BNI, Meetup, Eventbrite … gotta get out there.
Soon enough they meet a Social Media Marketer who tells them they need to be advertising on Facebook because it’s so effective and they’re missing tons of business if they don’t. So, what do you know, they’ve signed up for a $6k package + ad spend over 6 months and they’re eagerly awaiting the flood of new business.
When they ask why it hasn’t worked their Social Media Marketer tells them ‘social media takes time’. So they sign up for another six months at $6k, this time with ‘blogs’ being written for them at an extra $500 p mnth because that’s going to help with SEO apparently. Oh and yeah, you should get SEO that’s important, just another $500 a month.
But you gotta spend money to make money right?
Right. And wrong.
The above scenario is the way most small businesses end up spending way way way too much money and wasting loads and loads of time, getting no traction, making no progress and buying into the whole ‘marketing doesn’t work’ story.
It also leads to more tactical blindfolded dart throwing.
Let’s do a flyer drop, let’s have a sale, let’s get an Adwords guy, we probably need a video, oh let’s start a podcast, we should probably be on instagram …
All the while the limited resources of both time and money that the business owner had to begin with are almost depleted, and time is running out for them to make it work.
The sad thing about this story is it’s not one I’m making up, it’s one I hear day in and day out from my clients and other people’s clients who do similar things.
So what’s the solution?
And how can you do things for a lot less time and money, I thought you said it would take a lot of time and money to get marketing to work?!
Well, I’m not going to tell you I’ve got all the answers, if I did I’d run off to an island somewhere after having sold them off to the highest bidder.
But I do know that working with someone on your brand and marketing strategy BEFORE you invest in all your set-up will save you thousands and months of wasted time. Yes, sure, it’s going to cost you a few grand to get great advice upfront, but the returns are immediate.
Understanding where to spend your money and why, the way marketing really works and what it’s really going to take to get a particular tactic to pay off are essential to making the most of the time and money you do have.
And yes, the truth is that even with solid advice upfront, a great coach, a strong strategy and plenty of hard work, it is going to cost money and take time to get results from your marketing efforts.
But the good news is that when it’s done right you build momentum and you get traction, you make decisions that have a greater chance of working out, and you don’t have to do the same thing over and over again (like build a website … because the first two were total disasters).
If you start with a strategy and get some solid advice along the way, you can make the journey less painful and more productive.
I’m sure you’ve all got plenty of comments on this one!