Facing Your Fear of Marketing April 9, 2011Posted by StrategicGrowth in Marketing Plan, marketing strategies, Strategic Growth Concepts.
Tags: fear of marketing, how to market a business, marketing, marketing fears, small business marketing, small business owners
As a consultant to small and mid-sized businesses, I often speak to and work with companies that are run by CEOs who are the original founders of their company and typically the originator of the “product” offered by their firm. In most cases, the CEO is highly knowledgeable about the “product” and usually admits to a substantial lack of knowledge about the less industry-specific parts of their business. Areas such as operations, marketing, accounting, HR, legal and more are beyond their experience – and typically their interest as well. In most cases, they’ve gone into business knowing that they would hire an attorney and an accountant to assist them, however with regard to the more ‘day-to-day’ functions of operations, marketing and HR they just figure it will all come together – sort of a “build it and they will come” mentality.
Nowhere is the “build it and they will come” mentality more obvious in these individuals than in the area of Marketing. With rare exception, most of these business owners assume that everyone will see the value of their “product” as easily as they do, and that as soon as it becomes available they will be swamped with customers! Then, before very long, reality begins to set in.
It’s typically not very long before the business owner begins to panic; ‘why can’t they see it?’, ‘why aren’t they buying?’ he or she begins to ask. Then there is typically a period where they will spend money on any type of advertising that is thrown in front of them – and the media reps are happy, but the business isn’t becoming any more successful, and now they have a lot less money.
Then comes the third stage, this is where they come to someone like me – the outside consultant, and they say, “fix this ASAP before I’m out of business! But by the way, I have very little money to pay you so you need to fix it this month because that’s all the money I have left. Oh, and I don’t want you to do ‘this’, and I do want you to include ‘this’, and make sure that you allocate budget for ‘this’ as well. But other than that, do whatever you need to in order to fix it yesterday”.
Now don’t laugh because I promise you that right now some of you are reading this and seeing yourselves in this story!
So I thought it might be helpful to the small and mid-sized business owners out there to bring a fact to light if you haven’t already realized it – you have to gain enough knowledge to enable yourselves to comfortably wear the multiple hats of operations, marketing, accounting, legal, HR and every other aspect of your business – even if you have someone else performing those functions. This is particularly important in the area of Marketing where it must be at the forefront of every decision you make for your business – or you won’t have a business. In my experience, this becomes an area of tremendous fear for business owners; Marketing is definitely outside their comfort zone. They ask questions like:
- My radio/TV/newspaper/yellow pages (use your preference) rep said theirs is the only type of advertising I need, are they right?
- How do I know how much money I need to spend?
- How do I know what type of advertising is going to be interesting and get the attention of my potential customers?
- Do I need to use Facebook? Everyone is telling me I need to use Facebook!
- and much, much more.
So the best answer is:
- First, relax.
- Second, FACE YOUR FEAR; don’t pretend that the need to Market your business doesn’t exist and hope it will go away.
- Third, start educating yourself about the types of marketing strategies available to you; what they cost, how they’re used, which types of potential customers they appeal to, etc.
- Fourth, do an analysis of your existing customer base and try to identify some key factors that your ‘best’ customers have in common and then plan to go in search of more just like them.
- Fifth, bring in an outside consultant. It doesn’t have to be a long-term arrangement, just let them help you analyze your business, your customers, your market, and your industry and then develop a Marketing Plan for you based on their findings, your goals, and your budget – and then YOU implement the plan with your newly gained knowledge.
To help you gain clarity on the fact that you must be your company’s best marketer, I refer you to a recent article in the American Express Open Forum entitled, “Attention Small Businesses: You’re ALL in the Marketing Business“. This is an excellent article that will help you understand the importance of the company CEO having a strong level of involvement in Marketing on a daily basis.
Hopefully, you will all now FACE YOUR FEAR and become alot more involved in Marketing your business.
The author, Linda Daichendt, is Founder, CEO and Managing Consultant at Strategic Growth Concepts, a consulting firm specializing in start-up, small and mid-sized businesses.
Linda is a recognized small business marketing expert with 20+ years experience in a variety of industries and an award-winning blogger on such topics as marketing a small business, mobile marketing, social media marketing, and virtual events.