How big of a challenge does marketing present to the typical small business owner? Our recent report showed one third of small business owners claim marketing is their biggest challenge. Effectively knowing how to market and promote your small business isn’t second nature to most small business owners, so it comes as no surprise that in that same survey 33% of respondents claimed that they have reached out to consultants and outside contributors to try and bridge the gap. Despite the challenges marketing can present, business owners know when done correctly, marketing has the potential to increase sales and increase the value of their business. It’s such a priority that 18% of survey respondents attested to focusing their investment efforts over the next 6 months on their company’s marketing programs.
Reliant Funding reached out to some of the best names in the marketing world with a simple question: For those small business owners looking to invest in marketing, but aren’t sure how to do so effectively, what is your best piece of advice? New to marketing? Not sure where to start? This is the post for you (or a friend…. feel free to share).
On just starting out:
“ Start small and make sure you have a plan in place before you spend any money. Your spending should have a purpose, which is ultimately to get more customers. If you’re following your marketing plan consistently…and can clearly see that your strategy isn’t working, then don’t just keep spending more money, hoping it will suddenly start to work. It’s time to change what you’re doing! If you start small, then, when you know what you’re doing (and you know your marketing is succeeding), you can expand your marketing efforts. ”
Often small businesses are so interested in “marketing,” they are hasty in launching their efforts before understanding the who/what/where/why/how of their target audience. Additionally, they may miss the importance of tracking the performance of any efforts. Doing the research and investing the time to build out a strategy has a big impact for an owner dipping their toes in for the time. Even more important? Assessing those primary efforts to ensure they’re moving the business in the right direction. This will set you up for success when you are ready to invest.
When you begin seeing a steady and building return on your marketing investments, this is the time to begin expanding to see how far your budget can go. If your business is seeing the return on its investments, but challenged with coming up with the cash to enhance its volume, it may be time to consider new ways to fun additional marketing spend. Lack of working capital shouldn’t restrict successful businesses from realizing their potential! If your business faces this challenge, we would love to hear from you as we’re confident we can be a partner in launching your business to even greater heights.
On avoiding marketing pitfalls/traps:
“ Don’t just think you can throw money at the problem for a quick fix. Time and time again we talk to companies who hired an expensive agency or consultant because they thought it would be a silver bullet who then realize later that the agency wasn’t what they needed. Be prepared to do your research and be willing to invest time in addition to money. ”
Many small business owners don’t know what they are getting into in terms of marketing. It’s tempting to hire a shiny new agency and feel relieved to let them take the wheel. The truth is, marketing is never a one size fits all and in a sense, it’s experimental in nature. If a potential agency ever promises fast results upfront, it’s a clear sign you should run the other way. Get an initial idea of your challenges so you can make a smart investment. You can also check out this great post from the Hubspot blog on tips for hiring the right marketer for you.
On navigating marketing for your business alone:
“ If a small business decides to try doing their own marketing, I’d suggest their first step should be to completely understand the product or service they’re selling and the customers they’re selling to, and create full product and buyer profiles. Many small businesses jump into the deep end and waste a lot of money on marketing that doesn’t connect with the right people. Planning is key. ”
This is solid advice. Griffin suggests the first step of tackling marketing efforts on your own: knowing your buyer profile. Consider it the framework to any marketing strategy. If you’re looking for more information on the importance of a buyer profile and how to build one, you can learn more here.
On stretching a limited marketing budget:
“ When you have a limited marketing budget you want to spend it on what works. So, I suggest looking at where you’ve gotten your previous clients, and see how you can invest your resources into ramping up those strategies. Without trying to become a marketer yourself, I think small businesses with small budgets benefit greatly from learning some marketing themselves, so taking a course on a specific strategy, and then persisting until it p provides a return, can be a good use of short resources (of course you are still investing your time). Once a marketing strategy can at least pay for itself, even with a small budget you should feel comfortable investing more because you know you are going to get your money back. ”
Sometimes ramping up what’s already working for your business can give the best return on investment. Silva, author of Badass Your Brand, also says patience is key:
“I’ve seen way too many people try marketing for a short time and then, when they don’t see results, they say it “didn’t work” but the truth is they didn’t play with it long enough for it to work. You’re just not going to spend $5 on Facebook ads and make money, so you need to commit to whatever you are trying long enough that you “crack the code” and figure out how to make it work for you,“ says Silva
On seeking consultation:
“ By having an experienced marketer look at their company, they can get an idea of what goals they should be setting as well as the steps they can take themselves in future for their marketing. A good consultation should empower the small business by creating a clear path for their future marketing strategy. ”
Marketing is one of the most powerful investments for a business owner. Whether you choose to go it alone, build on what you already have in place or consult a professional opinion, be calculated and deliberate every step of the way. We hope this post serves as a useful resource and wish you success as you navigate your small business marketing strategy. For more statistics and insights, visit the Reliant Funding Small Business Report.
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