February 12, 2015
As a business owner, how often do you find yourself thinking, “Something has to change. This is not where I want my business to be”? Does it feel like you’ve been coasting for too long without seeing any real growth? The problem may be marketing team complacency. I’ve seen it happen to companies and non-profits of all sizes; from million dollar organizations to multi-billion dollar corporations. It happens. And unless you recognize the signs and do something to change it, your company will continue to coast and you won’t achieve the growth you want.
Here are the 6 signs your marketing team might need a refresh:
- You haven’t heard an idea that’s excited you in a long time- the point of having a marketing team is to keep your business fresh and exciting. Marketing isn’t just about the right tagline, logo, or print ad. It’s about ensuring your business model, products, and services stay current and top of mind for new customers. If you’re not excited about your business, chances are, potential clients aren’t either.
- They’re out of touch with your Target Market– speaking of your potential clients: have you looked at them lately? I mean, really looked at them? Your target market probably doesn’t look the same as it did 20 years ago – or even 5 years ago for that matter. What excites them? What prompts them to buy what you sell? What do they value? If your marketing team can’t answer these questions, your company could be out of touch with your market.
- Your Marketing tactics haven’t changed - that newspaper ad you’ve been running since you started your company and the networking group you’ve belonged to for decades may not be yielding the results they used to. Sure, they’re comfortable, but if your profit margins have been steadily declining or you’ve been consistently attracting work or customers that don’t excite you, your marketing has stagnated – and most likely, so has your business.
- Your marketing feels boring – the purpose of Marketing is to get your company noticed. If you’ve been using the same logo, tagline, and ad copy forever, people have stopped noticing it. Your marketing team’s job is to constantly study and innovate to get your target market excited about the possibilities of what you deliver! If your message feels boring to you and your team – trust me, then it’s boring to clients and potential clients too!
- Your team is negative and jaded- are you hearing “we can’t” more than “let’s try!” lately? If so, then it’s definitely time to refresh your Marketing team. Marketing is creative and fun and about testing different ideas to find what works. If your team is stuck on “we can’t”, then it’s definitely time for change.
- You aren’t measuring ROI- has your team given up on measuring the effectiveness of your marketing? This is a sure sign that things are going south. They’re coasting. They’ve given up. Tracking the return on your marketing investment (ROMI) is absolutely critical to growth. If your team has given up on this, you need a refresh.
We work with companies and non-profit organizations that have all, or some, of these six signs. It happens; you’ve been working together a while, you’ve had some success, and people start to rest on their laurels. While that may be comfortable, it’s not conducive to growth and innovation. Bringing in a marketing consultant – someone who can be objective and honest, is the perfect way to get out of a marketing rut. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh set of eyes!
If you’re ready for a fresh set of eyes, contact us!
February 7, 2015
I’m pretty good at telling other business owners and marketers how to market their businesses – and my clients’ success speaks to that, but I admit, sometimes I don’t always practice what I preach. I even joke about it – but this week it became no laughing matter.
As a marketer I set a very high standard for myself. After all, if I’m going to convince business owners that I can market their business effectively, I better be perfect at marketing my own, right? As a marketing consultant I need to embody all that I preach – and that’s what I strive to do. I want to walk the walk and I want to be the marketing consulting agency that demonstrates how effective, strategic marketing practices yield success! And I honestly thought I was doing a decent job of that!
That brings me to my painful lesson this week: I failed to notice that my business had outgrown my business model. I am not the same business I was five years ago – or even a year ago – and that’s on purpose. My goal has always been to attain bigger contracts, working for bigger companies. If I were my client I’d have told myself: “You need to constantly study and review your target market, your messaging, and your processes and procedures – because your audience is changing!” And what hit me like a Mack Truck this week is that I broke the Cardinal Rule of Marketing: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.
The fact is, my audience isn’t the same as it was last year – and that’s great news – however, I’d gotten so stuck in doing things a certain way that I completely missed that fact and ended up standing in front of a group of 100 business owners and marketers with a process and a message that fell flat- to put it nicely. The good news is, I invite feedback, and while the majority of it was still pretty positive, I got more “constructive” feedback than I’m accustomed to – and it stung. A LOT. But it also made me take a much-needed long hard look at my business. That’s when I realized: despite everything I thought I knew about my business, and how many times I’d tried and tested my message and delivery, and despite how many times it had worked in the past, it wasn’t working anymore. I had, in fact become less and less effective – AND I DIDN’T EVEN REALIZE IT! I made excuses for it and blamed everything but my own strategy. Why? Because that strategy worked for me for a while and it seemed to work for everyone else in my industry who does it. OMG – I had fallen into the very “copy-cat” marketing trap that I warn business owners about all the time AND I let my ego get in the way of my objectivity. I did EXACTLY what I warn businesses owners and marketers about constantly – and I didn’t even see it!
The moral of this story is – I see business owners and marketers make these mistakes all the time. And I thought I was different, I thought because I’m a marketer, I know better. But the thing is, we’re human. It’s impossible for us to be 100% objective when it comes to looking at ourselves and our business. And if a business is to survive in today’s world we need to CONSTANTLY AND DILIGENTLY examine, test, and critique. We need to invite honest and open feedback from our clients, colleagues, staff, and partners: NOT people who are going to be “nice” and tell us what we want to hear, but people who will tell us the cold hard truth.
Mark Zuckerberg was recently quoted by Business Insider, Jillian, D’ Onfro in her article, Mark Zuckerberg: Even the Smartest Genius Can’t Start a Business Alone: “one person’s efforts are never enough when it comes to building a company“. And he’s right, we simply cannot do this alone and we must get out of the mindset that we always know what’s best for our business. People hire me to help them see their businesses clearly and objectively. What I didn’t realize was that I am no different – I need people to help me see clearly too! Who’s helping you see clearly?
November 26, 2014
Before our turkey and pumpkin pie even reaches our intestines, many of us will be dashing off to Best Buy and Walmart to compete for our chance to buy an 800″ Samsung HDTV for $3.97. But before we do, I wanted to give a few reasons to be thankful for – and support – our local small businesses.
Small businesses may not have the million dollar marketing and advertising budgets to promote our holiday sales ad nauseam like the big box stores, and we may choose to stay home with our families on Thanksgiving rather than open up shop to squeeze every penny out of consumers, but that’s part of what makes us who we are: local people. We’re about so much more than the bottom line. We’re about good old fashioned hard, honest work, family, and building relationships. We are actual living, breathing, walking, talking, loving people – we didn’t need a Supreme Court decision to validate that.
So before we rush out to spend all of our holiday budget at the Supreme Court’s definition of people-corporations, let’s consider our local small business. And if being actual people isn’t enough of a reason, here are seven more reasons to not only thank your local small business owners but make it a point to shop them this holiday season:
1. Employment – Small Businesses with fewer than 20 employees make up 89.8% of employers in the country (Source: US Census Bureau Data 2011)
2. Job Creation: Small companies with 20-499 employees led job creation after the Great Recession of 2009, with 60% of all new jobs being credited to small businesses – that’s a total of about 14.3 million jobs – and I can pretty much guarantee most of those 14.3 million jobs wouldn’t require anyone to work on Thanksgiving! (Source: SBA’s Office of Advocacy. See more at: http://www.sbecouncil.org/about-us/facts-and-data/#sthash.avpzvi2h.dpuf)
3. Contributing to GDP: “A January 2012 report from the SBA’s Office of Advocacy found: “Small businesses continue to be incubators for innovation and employment growth during the current recovery. Small businesses continue to play a vital role in the economy of the United States. They produced 46 percent of the private nonfarm GDP in 2008 (the most recent year for which the source data are available). (Source: “Small Business GDP: Update 2002-2010”)
4. Innovation: You want innovation? We got innovation! Small, high-patenting companies produce 16 times more patents per employee than large patenting companies. In addition, a 2008 study by Anthony Breitzman and Diana Hicks for the Office of Advocacy found that “small firms are much more likely to develop emerging technologies than are large firms. Specifically, although small firms account for only 8 percent of patents granted, they account for 24 percent of the patents in the top 100 emerging clusters.” (See more at: http://www.sbecouncil.org/about-us/facts-and-data/#sthash.avpzvi2h.dpuf)
5. Supporting Veterans: Veterans own more than 3.7 million small businesses, and are at least 45 percent more likely to be self-employed in the private sector workforce than those with no active-duty military experience. (Source: sba.gov)
7. Supporting Local Communities: Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes. (Source: Institute for Self Reliance)
Happy Thanksgiving and please don’t forget to show thanks to the small businesses that positively contribute, not only to our local communities, but our national economy by shopping small this holiday season!
Do you have any small businesses you love to support during the holidays – or any other time of the year? Show them you support them, by leaving a comment and sharing why you love doing business with them!