It’s National Small Business Week and while we celebrate the great contributions entrepreneurs and small business owners are making here in the United States, such as accounting for more than half of Americans either owning or working for a small business and creating approximately two out of every three new jobs each year. I can’t help but think about the other numbers, like the number of hours and money entrepreneurs spend on marketing. I want to take this month to create awareness around the marketing MAYhem that so many have come to accept as the norm.
No, this isn’t another article telling you how podcasting is the best strategy for your business. Or another article sharing how to work around the latest social media algorithm update. You see, much of what entrepreneurs and small business owners hear is how much MORE they should be doing when it comes to marketing their business. In fact, from the moment you start your business, the pressure to market begins:
- Set-up your website,
- Get on all the main social media channels,
- Secure SEO,
- And, start posting…a lot!
- Be omnipresent and hustle until you make it…
Right? Well, that may sound easy enough in just a handful of bullet points. But, when you start adding up the costs and time, it begins to feel overwhelming. Add to it that there is 1) no shortage of new businesses (aka “competition”) and 2) the rate at which new marketing & communications channels (e.g., newspapers, radio, tv, blogs, social media, podcasting, etc.) are being developed isn’t slowing down and you have a recipe for complete confusion!
And, while I’ve worked with the bigger brands and know they have so many resources both internally and externally to help them manage all their marketing and communications, I can tell you it is still no small feat. The problem is that no one is telling small business owners any different. And, if you’re an entrepreneur or small business, you’re left to navigate your marketing with so much less. So, I’d like to alleviate that pressure for so many entrepreneurs and small business owners by offering these tips:
1) Start with intention. You will get a lot of offers for various marketing opportunities once you own a business. But, before you consider any, ask yourself what your intentions are with your marketing. Do you want to build awareness, attract new leads or determine how you can effectively reach your most qualified prospects? The answer is likely to be yes or “I’ll take a little of all of that, please!” In any case, it’s crucial that you determine your intention before you take any action. So often, I see entrepreneurs marketing first and contemplating later. But, to effectively market your business, you should begin with clear intentions.
2) Be realistic. Essentially, why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side and see how many eggs have hatched? Don’t count your eggs before they hatch and don’t think one strategy or all the strategies at once will be your winning bet. There’s no quick ticket to successfully marketing your business, don’t get stuck paying for marketing without knowing its true ROI.
3) Seek connection. What good are 500 followers on your Facebook page if you still only have a couple clients? With so much buzz about online and digital marketing, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of the kind of marketing that requires us to show up and really be seen! So many businesses overlook the effectiveness of “good ol’ boots (or heels) on the ground.” But, it’s not about the quantity of events you can fit on your calendar; but, more so, the quality of those events. Be mindful of where your target customers/clients congregate and be there!
4) Measure before you market. As you set out on the road to marketing your business, be thoughtful about each step you take and be sure to build in rest stops along the way to measure. Measure what works and measure your joy factor. Are you still enjoying your business? Perhaps you are running on empty and it’s time to hire some support. Or, maybe you’ve been attracting the wrong clientele. By pausing to take the pulse on yourself and your business, you can be sure to move forward with a lighter load and/or on the right road. Be sure to repeat what works and adjust the rest.
5) Recognize (in most cases) it’s not a race. While there are some businesses that have great reason to rush to market and grow as fast as they can, the majority are in a race all their own. For whatever reason (likely the feeling of competition), entrepreneurs put this undue pressure on themselves to move as fast as they can which often lead to excessive hours and/or costly missteps or mistakes. But, while the move to start your own business is a substantial one, the way you market it doesn’t have to be. Sometimes, the best way to start is one step at a time with intentional periods of sprinting, followed by leveling up. But, if you are always sprinting, you’ll likely exhaust yourself and/or all your resources.
It’s time to end the marketing MAYhem and to gain clarity on what marketing makes sense for your business and your business alone. Every business is different and so should be your marketing strategies and tactics.