“The man who stops advertising to save money is the man who stops the clock to save time.” - Unknown
The fear of “marketing gone wrong” is a very real concern in today’s world - especially for small to mid-sized business owners across the country who have little budget to risk, but have a big need for significant outreach.
It makes sense as far as smaller businesses having reservations about creating more budget for marketing. Most small businesses have very little budget, lack of knowledge and resources, and - more than anything - many have had horrible marketing experiences with outside marketing entities. That’s three strikes…
StaticBrain surveyed 14,441,089 small businesses in 2015 and 10,860,842 of those businesses didn’t even have websites. It’s crazy to think that it’s 2016 and over 10 million businesses don’t have websites in today’s digital age - which is 2 out 3 when considering total small businesses in 2015 - suggesting significantly more than a majority don’t have a website. One has to assume if a business doesn’t have a website, they probably have reservations about investing in digital marketing. Listed below are the top five reasons why we think small businesses are afraid to invest in marketing - along with five solutions to their problems. Let’s dive in.
Lack of understanding. Fear of change.
Most businesses, big and small, have a legitimate fear of company and cultural change. This fear of change more times than not comes from lack of understanding.
It’s no surprise to us when we see a smaller business that hasn’t “yet” made the investment in a strategic and well thought out marketing plan. We get it. Quality marketing, digital and traditional, takes time, money, effort and expertise. Creating a marketing plan can be an intimidating and daunting task. Especially for any business owner that doesn’t have time to focus on marketing, but has to focus on operations.
One of the best quotes I’ve heard was from a good friend and partner Mark Rubin, Founder of Business Visualization; he said, “One common theme you find with smaller businesses is they don’t know how to measure growth. So, therefore, they can’t justify executing their small business marketing strategies they want to put in place.”
The above statement couldn’t be more true. Why would a business want to invest in something they couldn’t measure and scale? Having a strong understanding of goals, metrics, and action items is critical if you want to put get true ROI out of your digital marketing plan.
Lack of Budget
One of the most disheartening things is when I hear a passionate, ambitious business owner say they want to grow but can’t because of a lack of budget.
We understand the main budget restraints and challenges business owners deal with. We also understand the impact marketing investments have on a small business - especially a business on a tight budget.
More often than not, lack of budget is just an excuse. What we mean by that isn’t meant to sound harsh, but it’s honest and keeps us accountable. Most businesses have a budget they can allocate, but have real reservations about doing so; the mindset is often a feeling of sacrificing earned revenue into a dark, mysterious void. When a business has reservations about marketing, more times than not, they are 100% legitimate. Reservations can stem from bad experiences, lack of ROI, not fully understanding their target market, and a whole laundry list of “why we shouldn’t.”
Rarely does a business NOT have any room for a marketing budget. In all likeliness, businesses haven’t considered a marketing budget, and - as a result - have no real marketing strategy. Understandable, but in today’s digital age - with the number of turn-key resources - we encourage any small business to test the new marketing waters.
The good news is this. Making small business marketing plans effective doesn't take much. We have a simple eBook that shows you how the most cost-effective ways you can maximize your small business marketing.
Not Sure How to Measure ROI
This is a tricky slope. Most companies understand they need to put metrics in place to measure for success, but many companies are unsure of what specific metrics that they should be measuring.
Outlined below is a five-step process on how to setup and measure relevant metrics for your digital marketing and content marketing efforts. Data has to drive your strategy, and data has to measure your success. However, data is only relevant when you actually understand what you're measuring and how you can apply it to your strategy moving forward.
Step 1: Define Your Conversion Goals
You should never start any type of marketing effort or campaign without having solid conversion goals in place. First and foremost, you have to define what a conversion means to you. Conversions goals are most wanted actions and the ultimate “end goal.”
For example, if I’m running an eCommerce campaign about new hair products, my ultimate conversion goal would be a purchase. A conversion goal should always directly impact your business's bottom line.
Step 2: Conversion Goal Strategy
This step might be the most critical. Having a plan in place that will actually allow you to have actionable steps and items for your company to take when trying to meet these conversion goals is critical to any marketing campaign’s success. Having a conversion goal in your small business marketing strategy will give you great insights on how and "how much" you a spending to acquire new business.
At GoEdison, we are HUGE believers in the fact that every company should have a few different strategies in place - from an overarching business strategy, broken down to the sub-levels of various plans needed to achieve overall success - ie) marketing strategy, budget plans/allocation, and a set business growth strategy. When putting conversions goals in place, the thinking here is no different; you need a simple roadmap on how you’re going to achieve these goals, and it needs to be articulated and documented.
The key is to not “overthink” this strategy. The biggest mistake companies make when putting together strategies is over-complicating things. Remember, this is just a simple roadmap. You’ve already defined what your conversion goals are, now thoroughly set up a timeline that you would like to achieve these goals in. Next, put your metrics in place (see more of this in step three), then follow steps four and five to finalize your strategy.
Step 3: Proper Measurement and Tracking
Once you define your conversion goals, you have to put the proper tracking methods in place to track the success of your marketing campaigns. There are many lists of great tools out there to help you track your campaigns, but the most essential tool you will need is Google Analytics.
Google Analytics allows you to track your website's traffic. Google Analytics gives you the ability to see where your site’s traffic is coming from, what specific campaigns are working the best on what specific channels, and it also will send you monthly, weekly, or quarterly overview updates on your site’s most relevant data.
Step 4: Cost Per Acquisition: CPA.
Out of all the marketing jargon and terminology out there, outside of your company's “bottom line” - aka: revenue - this term needs to be in your top three. Cost Per Acquisition.
What is CPA / cost per acquisition? CPA is a method of advertising where the marketer only pays when the advert delivers an acquisition. So you might ask yourself what is an acquisition? An acquisition is a goal/conversion you define. Some companies might deam an acquisition as a “like” on Facebook if they are running Facebook ads, while other marketers might say an acquisition is a website click of a filled-out online form. Whatever the goal (acquisition) is you put in place, it’s critical to look at how much that is costing you per acquisition.
Step 5: Budget and Cost
Now that you have fully defined your conversion goals and have set metrics in place, you have to decide on how much budget you will allocate to accomplish these goals. There is a risk with any type of strategy you put in place, no matter how prepared you are, but having a baseline understanding of cost you’re willing to invest to accomplish these goals is a must.
At this stage, you have a detailed map of expenses for your various digital activity and marketing campaigns. Having the budget to invest, but not overspend, for these goals ultimately will play into your company's bottom line and will increase the efficiency of your CPA.
Zero Emphasis on Marketing Strategy
“Anyone can follow a plan, but it takes a special person to put an effective plan in place.” - Seth Godin
One of the biggest reasons small businesses fear marketing is because they have absolutely no marketing strategy in place. We get it. If your focus is selling products and keeping customers happy, your focus and strength isn’t understanding and being an expert in the field of marketing. If your job is cold sales and client retention, your priorities are probably focused in areas other than small business marketing. So, yes, we do get it; you have to maximize your strengths, especially in a small business.
Here’s the problem when your business doesn’t have a direct focus and emphasis on marketing: when you only focus on your strengths - for instance, selling, quality product, customer service etc. - you are missing the mark on the biggest supporting factor, which is marketing. Marketing should be the main channel to funnel new traffic and customers into the business. None of the above conversion goals in step three are possible without a marketing strategy.
The Solution: create a specific small business marketing strategy. Put your key indicators and metrics in place you want to track - the indicators and metrics that feed into your overall company goals. Start building your road-map with an emphasis on marketing. If you aren’t marketing, you’re failing; it’s really that simple. Ultimately, marketing will feed both your long and short-term goals. Your short-term goal should be to gain initial traction, while your long-term goal should be to build a reputable brand.
Small business marketing is effective when there is a strategy in place. Taking a shotgun approach to your small business marketing has never been effective and can be a costly waste of marketing dollars.
They’ve Been Burned Before
It’s simple why most businesses don’t trust marketing firms; they have been burned by an agency in the past. More times than not, we have to build trust with our partners and clients in the early days. Why? Because they’ve had a horrible agency experience in the past.
Another category that gets a horrible reputation is sales. When I think of sales, I think of an obnoxious car salesman that’ll do anything to get me to buy a car; that image doesn’t make me feel eager to shop for cars. However, in all reality, I get sold to all the time. My friends sell to me, my favorite brands sell to me...hell, even my family sells to me. Selling isn’t bad when you’re getting value, and the same thing goes for marketing.
When digital marketing first boomed, agencies were popping up left and right. Sadly, they were burning companies that didn’t have good knowledge of the digital space. Now, five years later, credible marketing professionals and firms alike are having to repair that reputation and image.
We advise you to do your research before committing to a marketing firm. Make sure they have more than just general knowledge. Make sure they invest in what your company is truly trying to achieve. More than anything, make sure they care.
One of the reasons we are so passionate about small business marketing here at GoEdison is because we understand the investment and impact a great digital marketing firm can have on a small business.
If your company needs help with their digital marketing or small business marketing, we would love to give you a free assessment.