It’s been a busy month…I’ve heard from a growing number small business owners who are climbing out of the rubble of 2009…happy to be alive. They contact me learn how to beef up their marketing and I’m seeing two common themes in our conversations:
Most understand that they need to market their business more aggressively starting right now so they can accelerate quickly as the economy comes back.
Nearly all are stuck…unsure where to invest marketing dollars to get the best results. Really, they are afraid. Afraid to commit limited resources on anything less than a “sure thing.”
There are no “Sure Things”
I hate to be the one to break it to them, but there are no sure things in marketing…or any other area of business. There is only risk and reward, and it’s your job to strike the right balance with each decision.
When you’re trying to grow your profits by expanding your marketing the decision really looks like this:
Option 1: Do nothing. This is the “safe” option. But the safety is an illusion, because in doing nothing (or maintaining what you are already doing) your sales and profits will, at best, remain flat. And, will likely decline over time.
Option 2: Invest BIG and Rebrand. Rebranding (and branding for that matter) is thrown around so much these days that every time I hear it I vomit in my mouth a little bit. This strategy is an “all-in” bet for most small businesses because the cost can be in the $10’s of thousands of dollars.
Seriously, do you need a prettier version of the brochure or website that you already have? Do you really believe that slapping on a new logo and a new image makes your message (the words that actually sell) any more effective?
This is often where the fear comes into play. And I understand completely. If I only had $20,000 to spend on new marketing for the second half of the year and you asked me to plunk it all down on one bet, I’d be afraid of the consequences of failure too.
The Third Alternative
To get past the fear of failure you need to understand this about marketing: Marketing is a science.
It requires a hypothesis (something you think is true like…I’ll double my sales if I offer a bonus with purchase this month), then an experiment to test the hypothesis (a low-cost direct response marketing campaign) and finally…a conclusion (did I get the results I expected - why? or why not?).
Then, make some changes and run another experiment. Each time keeping the one that gives you the best result.
Instead of stepping up to bat and hoping to hit a home run, you’re aiming for a series of base hits. Each marketing experiment builds on the ones before. You learn more and they generally produce better and better results as you go.
Occasionally you will have an experiment that fails. And that’s OK. You didn’t risk much money on that individual campaign so you simply log the lesson learned and run the next.
Remember…you’re a mad marketing scientist.
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