You’ve got a blog. Maybe an email newsletter. You’re tweeting and linking and trying to figure out the whole social thing. You even set aside time each week to meet with your team to try to come up with new ideas for how to get people interested in your product. It seems like you’re doing all the right things, but somehow you’re still not getting traction. What’s going on?
What’s probably happening is your marketing is still coming from scarcity, and not yet from abundance. Even though you know better—maybe you’ve even read a bit about inbound marketing—you’re still doing it the old way. You’re still trying to grab people’s attention, to “get them in,” to persuade them to engage with you. Why are you doing this even though you know better? Because your Marketing Department can’t actually make this shift. Only you, as the business owner, can set the stage for something really different.
It starts with changing the goal. You have to make the choice to lead your market—whatever size that market is—instead of continuing to chase it. It’s a commitment to being the business that tells the truth, that calls the bluff on the smoke and mirrors, and that is willing to wait for people to find them. And it’s that patience, the fortitude to wait it out, that most marketing leaders don’t have.
Even if you’re not a marketer by trade, as the owner, you have to step in here. You need to invest in some foundational work to make sure your marketing is happening from the right base.
From having the right people, to the right tools and goals, here are some questions to fill out the picture:
1. Who is your marketing department?
Do you have a leader? Or have you offloaded this work to Chris because he’s the only one who knows how to use Photoshop? Who you really need on your marketing team are educators—people who are passionate about helping others and who love asking the tough questions to figure out why whatever you’re doing today isn’t working. People who see data and metrics as a gift and not a burden.
2. Do you really know who your customers are?
I’m not talking about the people you wish would walk in the door, but the ones who actually buy your service or product. Do you really care about them or are they, like in most businesses, seen as a pass-through until you get to the good customers? Have you taken the time—as a business starting with you—to really ask who are you for, what you’re about, and why anyone should care?
3. Does your infrastructure make sense?
This is huge. What tools do your marketing people use? Did anyone think through what software—from your blogging platform to your analytics to social media—is actually right for your unique business? Or (and I know the answer is yes) is your Marketing Department a hodgepodge of tools that you’ve accumulated over the years because they were cheap?
4. Are you solving or persuading?
Does your business have a voice? If I read your blog, would I get the sense that your point of view is different from your competitors? Are you sharing the best of what you know—with your years of experience expertly doing whatever it is you do, or are you worried about giving away too much to the competition? If one of the three most senior members of your team isn’t blogging on a regular basis, you should change that. Today. Email me if you want help getting started. And here’s some thoughts on how to get it right, right out of the gate.
5. Is your marketing fighting above its weight?
Is your product or service really finished? Meaning, is the experience we would have of using it exactly what it should be down to the smallest of experiences? Your marketers have to compensate for every bit that’s lacking. And it only gets worse with time. Marketing is only part of the equation—you may educate and inspire people but sooner or later they’re going to use your product. That’s what people will talk about (good or bad). Don’t complain about not enough leads until you’ve fully invested in what you’re leading people to.
World-class marketing starts with a world-class product. Whether you’re an engineering firm or a coffee shop, that’s where your biggest investment should be. But, you can’t forget that your marketing should be a world-class product in and of itself. It can be honest, personal and have a unique voice. It can meet people where they are, with what matters to them, in a way no other business in your industry has ever dared to do. Will you?
When you get there, you’ll see that marketing can be a daily victory for you and your team—whether you got 1 lead or 100 that day. It’s a victory because you can say yes to the most important question you should have as the owner of the business: Did we share with the world more of who we are today?