How is your marketing going? If you are like most business owners, it is hit-or-miss. Often more a miss than a hit. When your marketing is inconsistent it costs you new opportunities and lost sales.
I have owned several businesses including a Chick-fil-A franchise so I get the challenge of trying to run a small business. Most small business owners serve as CEO, CFO, and CMO. No wonder we are so worn out!
Working with small business owners all over the US has helped us identify the most common reasons why small business owners don’t consistently market. Even when business owners believe that consistent marketing will help grow their business, we find there is a gap between knowing marketing is beneficial and actually committing to a consistent marketing practice.
This is the first of a series of posts that will focus on helping small business owners like you #GetGoing with your marketing. Our goal by the end of this series is to provide you with enough information, resources, and tools to help you overcome the most common roadblocks.
Before getting to the specific roadblocks, I think it’s worth mentioning that these roadblocks can be internal or external (or a combination of both). Here’s what I mean: internal roadblocks include things like beliefs and priorities.
- Lack of Confidence: If you don’t feel confident that you can market your business, you’ll avoid doing tasks that support the marketing function, which will result in a lack of marketing wins.
- Lack of Priority: If you believe that marketing doesn’t work, or isn’t helpful to the end goal of marketing your business, you won’t invest in it or prioritize it.
Internal roadblocks are the most challenging but are also the most essential for changing for your marketing mindset.
“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford
The other category of roadblocks is external. External roadblocks include things like skills, time, lack of knowledge or experience, or a tight budget. These are easier to address because there are ways to free up your time, learn new skills, and there are a number of free and low priced marketing tools.
Here are some specific external roadblocks you may encounter to marketing success:
I don’t have the time
Totally understand this one. Being a business owner means you’re working in the evenings and probably on a lot of the weekends.
One reason why time is an issue is due to how priorities are established. There are some things that always or almost always get done because they are seen as a priority. Payroll has to be finished so checks can be cut for the staff. Hiring has to occur so that business operations can continue. Sales leads have to be nurtured so that the revenue funnel remains intact.
When marketing is not seen as an integral part of business operations, it is seen as a “can do” rather than a “must do” and slides lower in the priority list. When marketing is viewed as disconnected from the necessary operations that result in business growth, it results in a de-prioritization.
If you are struggling with time constraints, there are a number of tools that can be used to automate repetitive tasks. Automation increases marketing consistency and reduces the amount of time you have to spend doing particular tasks. Take a look at tools like Zapier as an example of things that can be automated. This is also where marketing automation can help with sending out emails to support your marketing and sales activities.
No one understands my business
Marketing often gets a lower priority in your time allotment because you don’t trust anyone but yourself to do it. Maybe you have always done marketing yourself. Maybe you want to control the public-facing aspects of your business tightly to avoid messaging creep. I get it.
But we live in a day and age when you can find just about anyone in any part of the world to do any kind of job, and that includes marketing. This doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to find the right person, but it does mean that you have options to find people who can help you in some form or fashion so it’s not all dependent on you.
There are qualified, outsourced CMOs, CFOs, and COOs just like their are qualified, outsourced Virtual Assistants.
I have a very small marketing budget
Until money grows on trees this will always be a challenge for small businesses. A budget is a limiting factor, but small budgets don’t eliminate marketing impact you can have. Creativity, innovation, and an understanding of the tools in the marketing space provide limitless opportunities for small businesses with limited budgets. When a budget is limited, having a marketing strategy is imperative so that you don’t waste your marketing budget on things that aren’t going to work.
Additionally there are a number of free tools That you can use to help you market and grow your business and many of these tools are automation tools. Marketing automation “automates” tasks and makes decisions based on consumer clicks, responses, or interaction and it helps narrow the field of prospective buyers. It’s a great way to give you back hours in your day to do business development work.
I don’t know if it will really help my business
For business owners who methodically measure every aspect of the business, assessing the ROI on any marketing initiative can feel troublesome. One, some marketing interventions deliver quick, specific results, where others can only be measured in conjunction with a variety of interventions. Two, marketing takes time. Investing in improved SEO works, but it takes a good 9-12 months for it to work.
Here’s where I would direct you back to having a plan with clearly determined goals and metrics. A marketing plan should include both lead and lag indicators. A lead indicator is a type of predictive measurement and a lag indicator is a measurement of output. Lead indicators can influence change whereas lag indicators can only measure what has already happened. This lets you know how you’re doing and whether or not you’re on track towards your goals.
There’s always a risk when it comes to investing in anything in business, that’s why having a marketing strategy is essential to help reduce your risk and maximize your potential for great ROI.
I haven’t done it that way before
Depending on how long you have been in business, you have seen a lot of things change. Marketing is one of those areas that has changed drastically in the past 20 years. There is a proliferation of online channels and different ways to reach people. That can feel overwhelming.
This is definitely an internal challenge that goes back to being willing to try new things even though it’s not in your comfort zone. Working with a marketing expert to develop a comprehensive plan will ensure you’ve adequately outlined what you will be doing and when.
There are so many choices and I don’t know what I should be doing
Because of the multitude of marketing options available today, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Additionally, you hear experts telling you that you should be doing this and that and an abundance of salespeople who are willing to sell you services to accomplish the thing they happen to be doing. If you see too many choices in front of you, generally we see one or two things: 1) you do nothing because you feel overwhelmed and you would rather not risk making a bad choice or 2) you try a lot of different things and hope that something will work. Either way you are not getting the results you could be effective marketing.
I’m not a marketer or a writer or a social media person or….
Most business owners fall into this bucket. Either you don’t have some of the necessary marketing skills such as copywriting or design, you aren’t sure how to track marketing initiatives, or you don’t have a strategy that undergirds your marketing tactics.
The good news is that wherever you have a weakness, there are resources to help you. For example, copywriting is a very important part of effective marketing. Just because you aren’t a great writer doesn’t mean you can’t create good copy. There are a number of reputable outsourced writers and writing organizations available to help. Either you know someone who is a good copywriter, or you can contract with an outsourced writing agency. Wherever budget is super tight, there are a number of resources to help reduce the cost of certain things such as web development, writing copy, social media, or design.
These objections tend to be the ones that keep most business owners from getting started or staying consistent with their marketing. So now that you know them, what next?
Take a look at these roadblock and identify the two that you wrestle with the most. Next, write down the difference it would make to your business if you were able to grow your sales by 10% in the next year. What would that look like in terms of dollars? What would you be able to do with that additional Revenue? What would that mean for your business in for you and your family?
Resource: I encourage you to take a look at the 12-week year as a resource to help you think through a system and process for executing those things that are most important to you.
The next 6 weeks
Over the course of the next six weeks we are going to share a variety of blog posts and resources designed to help you get your marketing in gear, especially as 2018 is just around the corner. We would love for you to start the new year with the tools you need to make it your best year yet.
Future topics will include:
- Building a marketing framework
- Creating a one page marketing plan
- Getting to know your customers so you can talk to them in their words
- Building a kick butt website
- Free marketing tools every business owner needs
- Creating a marketing funnel that nurtures leads
Go ahead and subscribe to get our future blog post by email so you will get this series in your inbox. We will also share additional resources with you in the weeks ahead including a marketing guide for small business owners.
Please share in the comments below any other reasons that may keep you from marketing your business.