Didn't. Doesn't. Won't
One of the most frustrating aspects of working with small business owners is their lack of patience when it comes to marketing.
I get it, the Internet is to blame; the deceptively easy tools we use to reach prospects and customers (social media, email, blog) create equally false expectations: the digital equivalence of "If you build it they will come" is "if you post it or email it they will buy."
If it was that easy everyone would be doing it right? Well, everyone is doing it (firing posts and emails and blogs in all directions) and there lies the problem - an overwhelming barrage of digital junk ("noise") hitting our prospective clients and existing customers and causing them to either shut down or ignore it altogether.
Most business owners I speak with have been burnt by false expectations, (self-generated or promoted by marketing 'experts') and have concluded that if you try it and it doesn't yield results it won't work.
This is growing and prevailing mindset that literally paralyzes owners' ability to get out of their own way and grow their business. Here's why:
- Contrary to the common belief that marketing is easy, it is not. Marketing has become a science where we continuously test a scientific hypothesis - "what works today is likely not going to work tomorrow." The only way we can find out is by testing - subject lines on emails, CTAs (calls to action), images, colors, etc.
- Marketing without a written marketing plan is playing Russian Roulette with the financial future of your business. I always hated the mindset of "let's throw a bunch of crap on the wall and see what sticks" - it's a copout and a practice followed by amateurs not professional marketers. Every business needs a growth roadmap and without a marketing plan, it is doomed to arrive (broke) at, "it won't work" conclusion.
- "Differentiate or Die" (great book) isn't a cute title it is the only way a business can experience sustained growth. Finding out what differentiates you from your competitors is a very challenging task requiring the ability to have "an out-of-body" experience and think like a customer. Find a marketing expert that can guide the process.
- Repetition or frequency of marketing messages is the only way we can increase the probability of a chance to get noticed. If one ad or a campaign did not yield results, test a variation and keep going until you get movement.
- Free doesn't work especially when it comes to social media. Paid advertising is the only way by which we can narrow our demographics and test variables. Facebook and Google make billions with paid advertising and it is in their best interest to ensure that we get results. I did say "paid" right?
- There's an old saying, "fifty percent of advertising works but we don't know which fifty percent." Marketing works best when a variety of marketing tools are utilized; direct mail, social media, email, blogging, etc. It's not a zero-sum game but a balancing act instead. Which tools? The ones your marketing plan defined as the best fit for your target audience.
More often than not, in fact in the majority of cases I have been involved with, the reason owners adopt the it "didn't, doesn't, won't" work mentality has everything to do with lack of planning and nothing to do with marketing.
The solution? Ensure that you have a highly experienced and seasoned marketing specialist on your team or by your side. Take a deep breath, ditch the "won't work" mindset and give marketing a chance.
"How long before I see results?" is another favorite question and you are not going to like my answer: It depends - the more time you spend planning and developing a road map, the less it will take for you to experience results.
If anyone promises you rapid results, a "secret formula" or uses terms like, "we're going to crush it" brace yourself for massive amount of short term spend and a very long period of feeling guilty and second-guessing yourself. It won't work, it is not supposed to work or be that easy.