In my profession as a marketing consultant, too often I encounter business owners who are stuck in this mind frame. They contact me for my experience and expertise, but they discount that experience and expertise if it is contrary to the beliefs they currently hold.
In other words, business owners look to me to corroborate their faulty business practices and when I don’t, they go into full-blown denial and for all intent and purpose, resort to screaming – Tell me what I want to hear! They may not say these exact words, but they might as well. I just don’t understand the egos business owners have especially when their business is on the brink of failure. If your business was doing so well, then you probably wouldn’t have called me in the first place. So now that I’m here, maybe you should listen to what I have to say.
You know the saying, “The truth? You can’t handle the truth!” This is true on so many levels. People fear truth. If someone is willing to offer you sound advice, then it is up to you to listen and apply that advice. It is up to you to decide if that advice will benefit you and help you reach your goals. It is really sad when business owners fail to even listen to sound advice because that advice is not what they want to hear. Constructive criticism is just that – constructive. When a professional is giving you their honest opinion in the course of a FREE consultation, you may want to take notes instead of turning a deaf ear.
I recently experienced one such encounter. I made a visit to a business owner who was in need of marketing assistance. I visited her store, had a long discussions about her business, I took photos and told her I would discuss her situation with my team and get back to her in a few days. After discussing her business situation and viewing the photos of her business with my team, we realized that there was no way we could market her business in its current state. It was at this point I contacted the business owner and asked for another consultation. I explained that I needed to discuss the observations and conclusion we have with regards to her business. Her response to me was – “So, you can’t help my business?” I replied to her that I didn’t have a yes or no answer for her, but I did want to discuss some ideas and offer some suggestions to improve her business. She needed to know that her business was not at a marketable stage, but with a few changes, we could have helped make her business marketable. Since I didn’t tell her what she wanted to hear, she kissed me off with a polite – thanks, but no thanks response. I was disappointed with her response because I believed her business had a wealth of untapped potential, but without making the changes I was going to suggest in our 2nd meeting, that potential will remain untapped. I could have been unscrupulous and said what she wanted to hear just to get her as a new client, but that is NOT how Mad Lady Marketing operates. I believe it is my mission to provide good sound advice, offer constructive criticism and help you grow your business. Anything else goes against my core principals. The fact that she was even unwilling to hear what I had to say shows me that she will never become the success she seeks because she is hanging around too many “yes men”; too many people giving her unwarranted praise; too many people stroking her ego. As long as she or any business owner hangs around “yes men” they will never have the successful business they desire.
Thought for the day – if everyone is tell you yes, then someone is lying to you.
There is an old saying that “variety is the spice of life” and that saying holds true with marketing. If you think always doing the same thing is the way to market your business you are sadly mistaken. Marketing requires variety. You need new ideas; new marketing materials and you should always update your website & social media and keep it current. You can’t rely on status quo.
Trends: Marketing requires that you keep up with trends. In other words, know what is happening in the world, especially locally and make sure you stay on track with what is current. Just having a website with content is no longer enough. You need photos and the new trend is video. If you don’t have a video for you business, then you should think about getting one. A short 1 to 3 minute video about your company is the new wave for most progressive businesses.
Seasonal: Changing your marketing strategy to coincide with seasonal events is always a winner. If you don’t know when to launch a new marketing campaign or when it’s the best time to offer a discount then let the four seasons be your guide. For example, during the holiday season, do a contest or offer a special discount that is holiday related. During the spring, maybe you can revamp your website. Change the colors scheme, update the content or add some new photos or a new video, then be sure to share your updates with your customers.
Beyond the Typical: Go that extra mile. If you started your business with free or cheap business cards, then now is the time to give those cards a new look and a new life. Upgrade your cards to a heavier cardstock and/or update the look of your cards. If you started out with a free or “do-it-yourself” website, then now is the time to get a professional website for your business. As always, share your changes on social media.
Avoid becoming a “one trick pony’ just by making a few simple changes to the way you present and run your business. Don’t rest on your laurels and think that what you have now is all you’ll ever need for marketing. You must think “more not less” when it comes to marketing. Your marketing efforts must always improve, change and progress if you want your business to continue to prosper and grow.
Most small business owners understand that marketing cost money, but what they don’t understand is that the cost of marketing is an investment in their business. If you want to see more customers, you must invest in marketing….period. There is no way around it. You can sit back and rely on the infamous “word of mouth” , yes, I said infamous because this belief is “all fluff and no substance”.
Now before you “purist” start saying Mad Lady, you’ve really gone mad today! How can you say “word of mouth” marketing doesn’t work? My answer to you is that it may work in the short term and produce minimal numbers, but it does not work in the long term nor will it produce maximum numbers. Yes, I know everyone says that it is the best way to market your business, but really think about it and ask yourself this question – If word of mouth was the “best” way to market a business, then why do so many successful businesses rely on other marketing avenues, i.e. advertising, PR, marketing materials, websites, social media, etc…? You can get a limited number of clients/customers from word of mouth, but you cannot grow a business to any real level of success depending solely on word of mouth advertising. Let me be clear, I am not saying a customer referral or a word from a friend is not valid form of marketing, but I am saying that you cannot simply depend on this for the extent of your marketing efforts. Too many people do and in turn, their businesses struggle and sadly fail.
If you have a small business or you are thinking about starting a business. Here are a few costs to consider when it comes to marketing. I’m sharing these numbers because you need to know how much money it really takes to market a business. Now these numbers may vary, but for the most part, they are accurate and you can verify them just like I did. Most of this information was pulled from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). This is a good source for small businesses. It can help you answers business questions and give you a starting point for many of the things a business owner may want to know.
Hopefully these costs and website references will give you a better understanding the true cost of marketing. Again, I will say, rates will vary from company to company, but you can expect your cost to be somewhere in this ballpark. If you don’t have a budget for marketing, maybe these numbers will give you an idea of what you need to save up for. Remember, marketing is an investment that will pay off in the long run.
She is mad and she is not going to take it anymore! The Mad Lady Marketing Blog is just her way to drive home the importance of marketing in business. With over 15 years of experience in marketing, graphic design and communications, this marketing expert is mad (crazy) about marketing and mad (angry) at small businesses that don't understand or utilize marketing to promote their business.
Mad Lady Marketing is MAD!!
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