Now, before the anxiety attack induced by the title (we’ll talk about that later) starts to set in, know that our entire goal here at Good Rep Media is to help ANYBODY (and we mean anybody, including your cousin Gary) understand how online marketing works, OR, do it for them for an affordable price.
Let’s go over a few reasons why your marketing sucks, and how to fix it.
You’re Being a Cheapskate
Many small businesses make the mistake of not formally having a marketing budget. It usually stems from them thinking that their service or products are so good that they speak for themselves. Or even worse, they wrongly assume that people are going to tell everyone they know about them. Is that you?
You have budgets for anything that matters in your business, and marketing should be no different. So often we see a business that will fall into a vicious cycle that starts with them not doing any sort of marketing for their company.
Here’s what that nasty cycle looks like at a glance:
Step 1) A business doesn’t allocate a marketing budget, so they don’t do any sort of proper marketing.
Step 2) Surviving on existing customers, word of mouth, and some referrals, they get stuck at the same level of revenue and can’t grow (or worse, fall into decline).
Step 3) Because the business gets stuck at the same level of revenue, they “don’t have any money for marketing.”
This cycle often results in new customers not finding you and can allow your competition (especially if they are marketing) to pull ahead more easily.
If you don’t devote the proper amount of money toward marketing, your results will almost certainly be terrible. And don’t get us wrong, you don’t have to put a fortune into your marketing budget– just make sure the amount isn’t “zero dollars and zero cents, ” or “it’s too expensive.”
So how do you figure out your marketing budget? It’s going to vary from business to business and depend on the age and tenure of your business, so these are just general starting places.
If you’ve been around for a bit, and have a decent customer base and profit margins, you should be in the ballpark of 6% – 12% of your gross revenue being put back into marketing yourself. This percentage takes into account that you’re going to get some repeat business and referrals as well, and your marketing should focus on getting new customers and upselling existing ones.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but new businesses should consider spending more than established companies on their marketing. Obviously, be careful and never over-extend yourself, but you need to get customers or you won’t have a business. Consider 12% – 20 % of your gross revenue for marketing. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is for most. But until you establish a core customer base, you’ll need to market yourself more aggressively. Watch your results closely, but don’t skimp. Be sure you feed your newborn business so it can grow.
There are also some companies that have been around for a while but are underdeveloped in terms of a public presence and reputation (usually because they’re behind in their digital/online identity).
If you’ve been around a while and are still “old school” or “the best-kept secret” to many, consider the same marketing budget amount as a new business. But unless you evolve, you’ll likely begin to wither on the vine as competitors who have a stronger online presence devour your market share.
No matter your size and age, do what’s best for your business, and consider all of these percentages as starting points on your marketing journey. No matter what you decide, the point is, you should absolutely have a marketing budget.
Your Marketing Sounds “Off”
Your marketing is just an extension of your business’s brand, so it should look, feel, and sound like you. That might seem like a no-brainer, but so many small businesses put on their “marketing voice” when promoting themselves, and it comes across as strange and disconnected.
When people see your marketing efforts, it should feel a lot like if they were talking to you in person. Much of the time small business marketing sucks because it comes across as disingenuous, disconnected from the brand, or robotic. Here are some tips to nail the tone of your marketing so your marketing doesn’t sound “off.”
Use the Right Language: Don’t bust out the thesaurus to sound smarter, and don’t put industry jargon into your posts to sound extra professional. You’re not writing a formal letter to congress, you’re talking to your customers. Be clear and use warm, welcoming language. A great way to double-check yourself is to read any of your marketing materials out loud. Does it sound natural coming out of your mouth? If not, tweak it until it does. Marketing should feel like it was done by a human at your company to connect with another human who could use your services.
What Need Can You Meet?: So often, marketing just spouts off and talks at people, not to them. It might sound harsh, but people aren’t interested in your company. (Let the sting wear off, and we’ll explain.) People are instead interested in how your company can help them. If you focus your marketing on how you can help meet a customer’s need, suddenly they’re listening.
Don’t rattle off features, instead, tell them the benefits. One of the most classic examples is the umbrella. The first example will list the features of the umbrella, the second will instead list its benefits Observe:
Umbrella Features: Made of waterproof fabric, fully collapsible, hand-crafted wooden handle, and a solid metal frame. (Sounds neat right? But why does that matter to your customer?)
Umbrella Benefits: Stay dry in the rain and in the shade when it’s sunny, easy to store and carry anywhere, durable so it will last you for years to come. (Okay, your customer wants all of those things, so now they are way more interested.)
See the difference? Don’t just spout off about the “features” of your small business, solve people’s problems, and your marketing won’t suck.
One final, very important note. This might hurt your ego to hear, but do not assume people know about your business– no matter how long you’ve been around. We touched on this a bit above, but we hear this far too often. We’re in an age of fast-moving, digital reach, and if you’re not marketing your business online, fewer people are going to find you– and it will only get worse over time. You need an online presence to future-proof your business.
You’ve “Tried” Marketing and It “Doesn’t Work”
Does this story sound familiar?
You make up your mind that you want to try to get some new customers, so you decide you’re going to “finally start doing some marketing.” Then, for a short amount of time you “do some marketing.”
You don’t really have a plan (but you do your best), and you keep getting interrupted with other tasks. You don’t really keep up with it, and can’t be consistent– you’re just too busy. Eventually, your “marketing” falls to the wayside, and you didn’t see much in the way of results. So you write off marketing for a season because you “tried marketing and it didn’t work.”
You will get out of your marketing efforts what you put into them. You just did the small business equivalent of going to the gym for a couple of days, and then deciding that it “doesn’t work,” because you didn’t shed a bunch of weight without dedication. Like anything else in your business, your marketing only works if you work it.
One of the reasons your marketing sucks is because you’re not devoting the proper amount of time and attention to it. But that’s not really your fault.
You’re Not Measuring Your Results Properly
As we mentioned before, you’re likely having an anxiety attack after that title, and the fact that we’re likely describing you perfectly. But there are some folks who may be further along than others.
There are definitely some small businesses that actually do stick to their digital marketing strategy. They post on social media frequently, they have sign spinners out front, they participate in community events– they’re “doing the things.” And while that’s better than nothing, you have to ask yourself two questions:
- What is my goal with this marketing?
- What results am I getting?
You can invest sizable amounts of time and money “marketing” but if you don’t have a clear idea of what you’re expecting to get out of it, you’ll lose every time. Your marketing should primarily bring in new revenue. Sure there’s an element of branding, and getting your name out there, but overall, the split should be 70% new revenue, 30% branding maximum for your small business (you might even want to consider starting at 80%-20%).
What are your goals? Make them as firm as you can and write them down somewhere. “I want to get two new customers a week from my online marketing.” Or, “I want to see an increase of pizza sales of 2% each week.” Whatever your goal is, it needs to be specific, and you need to measure your results.
As you get new customers, ask them how they heard about you. Watch the number of goods or services you sell each week. Are you hitting your goals? If not, adjust your strategy. Try new things. Don’t be afraid of testing different approaches– you never know what’s going to work until you try it.
If you’re just “doing online marketing” without measuring your results consistently, you might sleep better at night, it’s going to be a waste of your time, and potentially your money.
Don’t Have an Anxiety Attack
If you think that marketing your business online isn’t a full-time job, you’re fooling yourself. To do it properly requires undivided attention. For most small business owners, that’s just not an option.
If you’re a small business owner, you’re very likely wearing seven hats (or more). You’re probably handling much of the day-to-day operations yourself, and this can make it challenging to devote the time needed to plan and execute a marketing plan that’ll get you results.
Either make the time for marketing because it’s important enough to you or uses some of the marketing budgets we discussed above to hire someone to help you. Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, someone needs to give your marketing the attention it deserves.
That’s where Good Rep Media comes in. We can take care of all of the pitfalls we’ve mentioned in this article (and far more) all for a price that small businesses can actually afford.
Your marketing doesn’t have to suck, it just needs the proper attention. Remember when we told you that you’re a business owner, not a marketing expert? We’re marketing experts. We started this company because we are experts in business and marketing.
If you’re ready to at least get a free consultation and let us audit your online business strategy, let’s talk today.