Those who sell you on the idea of purely automated marketing (or marketing without involvement and work) are drawing on the same neurotic belief that convinces you of the possibility of exercise without effort or income without activity. True, there are marketing tools that automate some of the processes involved, but even reasonably adept spammers have a plan; you can tell the one’s that don’t, because they send information on stock markets to the poor, organ enlargement to women, and fat reduction schemes to athletes.
In the days when you just did advertising – put an ad in the yellow pages and hope someone calls – there didn’t seem like there was so much to it. Even then, there were thoughtful ads that were part of an overall marketing plan, offering a discount for mentioning the ad, coordinating with coupons in the back, etc.
On the internet, though, countless people who didn’t know what the hell they were doing bought web sites, or invested in dot coms, or signed up for “automated business-in-a-box” schemes, thinking that somehow human beings no longer needed to think rationally about marketing their own business, take responsibility themselves, and invest a little work in it. And the dot com bust blew up in their faces. You still see that shite advertised on nightly infomercials. And if you believe in it, just rock back and forth, and you should lose 50 pounds in a month while eating whatever you want.
A tuna could scoop up what’s out there, given the small percentage of small businesses in any number of fields who are doing any genuine marketing.I constantly encounter people who will do just about anything to avoid responsibility and work at marketing their own business. They live on a wish and a prayer and hope clients fall like rain because they throw money at someone else or turn on a machine. Frankly, a number of them would rather just barely make it, just get by, or just go out of business than change the way they do things. And that’s OK with me. It just leaves the market more open for the rest of us.
We don’t have to be sharks. A tuna could scoop up what’s out there, given the small percentage of small businesses in any number of fields who are doing any genuine marketing.
The simple truth is that if you do nothing but take orders, you’re an order taker – you’re not running a business, and every year you don’t invest thought, time and activity in marketing, you’re witnessing the slow decline of your business. Those real estate professionals who sailed on a boom market and now find themselves in more realistic situations are finding this out.
Take a hair stylist who has 100 clients and opens her own salon. She saves on rent by picking a lower traffic area; not as many walk-ins (new clients), but she’s got enough repeat business to keep her happy for a long time. Or does she? The truth is those shops open and close all the time. Why? Because she’ll lose 25% of those existing clients each year or two and, unless she invests time, thought, and activity into marketing, we can sit back and watch it return to a residential neighborhood in a reasonably short time frame. The lesson is simple: a business that isn’t growing is going out of business, however long it may take. Put another way: A business that isn’t marketing is a business in decline.
It really, primarily isn’t money, either. She can throw money at advertising all she wants: buy TV spots, radio spots, hang flyers on cars, and yes she’ll get a certain return. If a fisherman casts his net randomly, he’s probably going to drag in just enough fish to keep from starving. Until his net breaks, and he can’t invest anything in repairing it.
3% return on flyers: that’s what you’re looking at if you put them personally in people’s hands, do a lot of leg work, have a number of conversations, and they’re really really good flyers, and you’ve got a really tantalizing deal. 1.5% is more realistic for just hanging them. Less if you don’t have an actual marketing plan for where and when you hang them, and customize them for that audience.
The internet provides countless inexpensive ways to market; it’s true. It has revolutionized opportunities for small businesses even while big box stores and management companies are gobbling everything up in Walmart fashion. And while computers allow us to automate parts of it, a wise marketing approach is not automatic. You can’t automate human thought, human interest (your own interest in growing your own business), human attention, and human management of the process.
You can’t automate human thought.Faith is a wonderful thing. But those who think faith without works will save them should read the book of Proverbs; there’s a lot of good advice in there for marketing your business. And if something sounds “easy”, “guaranteed”, or “automatic”, be advised that it’s probably just “easy” and nothing else. Anyone can throw $80/mo at a company that promises you’ll soar to the top of search engine rankings (as though that alone translates into real and relevant business traffic). But they usually can’t even do that right, let alone help ensure that the traffic does more than click on and click off your site like a virtual clapper. Besides, that person on the phone is an order-taker – what does he know about running a business? He’s been trained on what to say, but he’s going to type your URL into a software program, and move on to the next “client”.
For that matter, you could hire me, and I’ll put a brain into it. But without your involvement, consistently, over time, you’ll eventually sink back to square one, and you can’t afford to pay me what I charge per hour for the rest of your life. I’m the one that can tell you how to consistently generate interest and income-positive traffic, but if you’re not willing to spend 5-minutes a day on the marketing aspect of your business, you’ll only hear the part that I’m doing, and the part that you’re doing won’t sink in.
Part of any business that intends to grow, is spending a little time each day on marketing.Last point: part of running a landscaping company is hosing off the tools at the end of the day, sharpening the blades, returning the phone calls, filing the receipts, etc. Part of any business that intends to grow, is spending a little time each day on marketing. I hear all the time, “I don’t think I can find time to do that.” You can’t find 5-minutes a day? Usually it isn’t can’t, it’s won’t. Marketing is the business equivalent of exercise or preventative dental care. Most of us don’t look forward to it, but we’ve got several hours a week for television or just sitting on the porch with a beer picking our noses (I’ll get a little graphic to make my point). There really is only one answer to not having any time to market; “then don’t market”. And the result, of course is “don’t grow”. Of course you always hear, “Can’t I pay you to market for me?” Sure. I’m happy to do the basic technical stuff, get it set up, and optimize you for internet marketing. And what I do will do some real good. But if you don’t do anything consistently to go along with it…. well, I’m repeating myself.
None of us can overcome the power of belief. Belief is what tells people they can get rich by helping a Nigerian prince transfer funds from one bank to another. Belief always sells the easy ticket to windfall rewards, the effortless boon. I see belief all the time and, no matter how much I preach the gospel of work to it, some people just continue to believe. So I make these points here because, for one thing, I don’t want to see mom and pop from the mom and pop shop go to work for the 20-year old manager at Lowes. And the other reason is, I don’t want to NOT have told them the way it is. My business would do better if I didn’t tell people the truth; some of my competitors don’t – they assure prospective clients that they’ll take care of everything – it’s the soothing gospel of transferrence: “Let me carry the bag of coins, and I’ll be sure to invest it wisely for you.” But I won’t work that way; and I don’t have to. As someone once said, “the truth is always more refreshing.” And that’s what on my label, not the other crap.
“One who tills the land will be satisfied with bread.” – Proverbs