Article #44, April, 2006
Stop Wasting Money!
Sometimes it really hurts me to see intelligent, passionate, expert business owners wasting so much of their hard-earned profits on marketing strategies and tactics that have no chance of working. Every business owner occasionally tries a marketing strategy or campaign that flops, that's just the nature of owning a business.
The people to whom I'm referring are those individuals who make decisions in a vacuum.
Let's use networking as an example. Many of my clients and prospects use networking as one of their marketing strategies because it provides them the opportunity to build relationships with direct prospects and with referral sources at the same time, with very little financial investment. Sometimes the time investment is substantial, however, and must also be considered when evaluating the value of this investment.
At the types of networking events I attend, attendees are given about 30 seconds to introduce their businesses. Many people get a very small return on their investment of time and mo^ney and never evaluate why.
One reason why a particular networking group might not work for a particular business owner is that it's the wrong group! I'll use myself as an example - I target women entrepreneurs. I was once invited to attend a breakfast networking meeting in downtown L.A. It cost $70 for this breakfast (ouch!). If I could get new clients there, it would be worth this investment; however I quickly realized that this was not the pond in which I wanted to fish. The attendees were almost all men, and many of them worked for corporations of some kind. This was not my target, so I didn't go back.
Understanding your target very well is the first step. Then pick a group that either contains your target, or contains businesses who market to the same target as you for strategic alliances.
Another reason that networking might not work for someone is that they're not doing it right. Attendees at these meetings are judging you constantly. If you don't come across as profes-sional, you won't get clients or referrals. You need to dress appropriately and say the right things. And - your 30 second intro needs to be good. If nobody comes up to you during the open networking after you have given your 30 second intro - meeting after meeting - maybe your intro is missing the mark.
I don't understand why someone will spend $25 and several hours of their time every month, not get any business, and continue doing the same thing the same way. Instead, the person could spend a few hundred dollars once to hire an expert to revise their intro, and begin making mo^ney from the networking right away.
The bottom line is - you need to perform return on investment analyses (or ROI) for all your investments, continually. You need to educate yourself on business basics so you will recognize when a marketing strategy is or is not working to your satisfaction.
We are constantly bombarded with marketing messages - TV, radio, magazines, catalogs, billboards, even the movies and our business mail have advertisements. When we start our businesses, we already have pre-conceived notions of marketing - advertising and brochures.
The truth is, for most of us direct mail and traditional advertising are ineffectual and illogical. First one must create a design, then pay for printing or placement, then, for direct mail, pay for postage, which can be very expensive. Then, and here's the big problem, it must be repeated at least 6-8 times. Who has that kind of marketing budget?
Some small businesses will pay for a campaign, but only go half-way with it - only advertising or mailing once, or not creating an emotionally evocative advertising piece. A business owner can waste $1,000s in a very short time and get no return. It happens all the time.
Even though your business is probably not marketing consulting, there is a lot you can do to protect your marketing budget. Learn the basics of marketing by taking fr^ee teleclasses, reading books and studying on the internet before investing any money. Make sure ALL your marketing speaks directly to your target - your business card, website and 30 second introduction. After you know the fundamentals, then you are ready to make an emotional connection with your target. The emotional connection is what makes a person want to buy, then you don't have to push to sell!