Want to Grow? Work Smarter and Harder
In my corporate days, there was a hackneyed phrase about not working harder, but working smarter. This was a brilliant comment thrown out to a group of business heads when corporate or we had collectively decided that headcount needed to be cut in the face of a deteriorating economic climate. It was usually made by the controller that didn’t want to spend the time to allocate reductions based on where a business was relative to plan and simply wanted everyone to take out 10% or neophyte that had no business being at the table in the first place and wanted to sound clever. This genius wanted us all to know that life needn’t be more difficult operating with fewer people if we just worked smarter.
Those of us that had to make it happen would then collectively turn our heads towards the individual and silently let he or she know that now would be a good time to shut-up. First; there isn’t a lot of flexibility to work smarter in large corporations. They function like government to a great extent. An endless stream of unfunded mandates from paperwork to corporate operating initiatives only increased non-revenue generating activities to be absorbed by a fixed or diminished set of resources. Second; there was always only one way to work and that was harder.
In small business or as an entrepreneur, I preach that you have to work smarter and harder if you want to survive, particularly in marketing. Harder and smarter means you don’t need to spend a lot of money on marketing to make an extraordinary impact. You have to be a guerrilla and use unconventional methods to achieve conventional ends.
I’ve been in marketing for over 30 years now and can speak with the authority of experience and success. You can deliver extraordinary results without spending a lot of money if you are agile, understand what the customer wants, understand the marketing weapons at your disposal, know your desired goal and are willing to devote the energy required to get the job done.
Don’t study it to death, make it happen. This article will be completed in less than 45 minutes. My goal is not to convince you I should be a writer; it’s to convince you that it doesn’t take a big marketing budget to be a world class marketer. Getting my thoughts into words and publishing it doesn’t mean I have to read it, edit it, reread and submit it to a dozen friends to get their feelings. My goal is to get my thoughts on this out to whoever is interested as fast as possible and move on.
You do need to maintain a level of quality that reflects well on you and your business. The measure of quality is not in this case meticulous sentence structure, but the quality of the advice. Knowing your real goals is paramount. Get your message out and place a premium on time-to-market.
Too many professional marketers completely lose sight of the real goal. In case you didn’t know it is profit. I’ve had many a stare down with staff in the past that seemed to think the goal was for them to win an award for best trade show exhibit or promotional video and not to create an effective tool to help generate the next lead or close the next sale and produce profit.
I would get comments like if we only spend that amount we might as well not do it at all or our competition would make us look silly given how much they’re going to spend. My usual response would be that we have never signed an order at a trade show or won an order as a result of a trade show and neither has the competition. The only one that will look silly is the one that spends the most being there.
Customers don’t care about award winning promotions. They want to know what you can do for them that no one else can that will make them money or in the C2C environment, happier or more fulfilled.
You have common goals; you both want to make more money. Your job is to convince the customer that they can make more money by using your product or service than the other guys’ and do that for the least amount of money possible. In other words, maximizing your return on investment.
Know Your Marketing Weapons
It’s difficult today to get people to think beyond their website. Without going into a great deal of detail and making this article into a tome, the ways in which you can market your products and services both on-line and off-line have increasing exponentially and are in many cases free. Even promotional tools that have been out of reach in terms of price for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the past are affordable today. The increased interest in on-line promotion has made traditional off-line tools like radio and television well within reach of small businesses.
A website alone will not drive business to your door. You need to use a variety of on-line and off-line tools in a coordinated manner to drive people to your website or storefront. There is no silver bullet in marketing; you can’t afford to invest a disproportionate share of your available resources in a single marketing tool.
One of the reasons I decided to get back into the marketing game was because of the number of so-called marketing gurus out there that didn’t have a clue and were hurting people and businesses as a result.
I had a client that was working with a marketing firm that was bleeding him dry. There big idea was to rent a theater out for a first run movie and invite, with minimal qualifications, a prospect, their spouse and children to come see a movie and have a good time. The thought was that they would make “friends” and when that friend needed financial advice, they would come looking for him.
These events were costing him $10 thousand a shot and bringing in no business. This was several years ago when financial advisors were dropping like flies. My comment to him was that he didn’t need friends, he needed clients. Understanding it’s all about relationships is one thing, throwing money into a theater at $10 thousand a shot with no clear goals is quite another.
He declared bankruptcy about six-months later. I looked into this marketing guru. He was a mortgage broker when the real estate market collapsed. He’s now found his niche in social media marketing. Very sad and very unnecessary. Diversify your marketing investment.
A lot of the great marketing weapons are labor intensive. Be prepared to put your time in or pay someone else to do it for you. Remember that others cannot replace your involvement, only leverage it. As an entrepreneur or small business owner, your involvement is required to get the content and message right.
A great example is building a website. Many an entrepreneur or small business owner pay someone a healthy amount of money to build a website and are dumbfounded when the developer delivers a site of forty pages filled with blank boxes and their logo at the top.
Software techies aren’t the ones you want to create content for you. Even if you added the expense of a content writer, the writer needs to know what you know. Who is your target market, what are they looking for and why, what can you do to satisfy their needs, how is different from other solutions, how have you helped people in the past and what is their next step or call to action when they’re finished reading? All of this must come from you. Someone else can put it into pretty words and make it keyword enriched, but the message is yours.
You can delegate and outsource just so much. Your marketing message determines how the world sees you and your company. You should and need to be engaged. Again, leverage yourself with others.
The point is that with a commitment in time and some creativity, you can create a small business marketing machine with a minimal investment in dollars. Understanding your goals, understanding the customer, being agile, using multiple marketing weapons and working hard can produce extraordinary results and grow your business beyond your wildest dreams.