Or is it More about Priorities?
Not long ago, I consulted with a local small business, offering advice about developing a new brochure. The firm wanted to target a very specific audience to inform them about a new offering. This particular service was perfectly suited for the market, but, for some reason, they weren’t taking notice. There were a lot of assumptions being made about them. And there was a good share of guesswork going on about which way to proceed.
None of us had all the answers. (Nobody does.) I suggested hiring a research or telemarketing firm to conduct a brief informal survey to understand how their company is perceived by this audience. It would uncover false perceptions that might exist and help determine a way to dispel them. This could be their best way to objectively identify what barriers to entry exist within this market. And, by doing so, we would ensure that we’d have the most-effective message.
“It always comes down to budget,” I was told.
Hmmm, you want to write, design and print a brochure. But you don’t want to make sure you’re reaching your audience with the right message? You’d rather make assumptions and risk throwing away good money on an ineffective brochure?
“We just don’t have the budget.”
Let’s take a step back. Is it about the budget, or is it about the priorities? If it’s deemed a priority, chances are that you’ll find the budget.
On a personal level, we easily prioritize things we really want. While some may be absolute necessities, many aren’t. We can certainly do without them. Yet, we tend to find a way to pay for them, anyway.
- A trip to Disney
- That new car
- An expensive dinner with the family
- That widescreen TV
- That $1000 iPhone
- Those $400 concert tickets
On a business level, we don’t find it to be so simple. Many of us view fundamental marketing strategies as expenses instead of investments. We focus on the short-term cost and lose sight of the long-term return. We make assumptions and rationalize. And we cloak it as a budgetary constraint. But, if it was a priority, those constraints would likely not exist.
Certainly, running a successful business relies heavily on managing resources and using them wisely. But certain marketing essentials require investments and should be treated as such. In fact, many of them are pre-requisites to profitability.
- A professional logo
- Your website
- That premium URL
- Well-designed collateral
- Advertising and promotions
- Social media
By under-funding these efforts, you could be undermining your business. Your competitors have likely already identified them as priorities. You should, too.
Of course, you should always make sound fiscal decisions.
But, try not to view investments solely as expenses.
Don’t determine your budget without first determining your priorities.
Take a step back. Ask yourself the difficult questions.
If you feel you lack the objectivity, we’re here for you.
You seem to be great at what you do. You have a terrific product. Your media coverage has been impressive. You’ve been serving the industry for decades. But, what does it mean to your customers? What’s in it for me?
If your brand cannot adapt to change, you could end up burning cycles recovering what you lost instead of spending your time building on what you have. As Ben Franklin once put it, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
As the calendar year winds down, it always a good idea to take a step back to revisit and refresh your marketing. Your business will be better off by doing so. But, don’t go overboard and be too disruptive.
Even if you’ve been able to put a check mark next to that spanking-new website on your marketing to-do list, get out your eraser. Your work has only just begun. A successful website is never once-and-done.
It’s always a good idea to take a step back and be more introspective about your unique qualities and strengths. By looking beyond short-term distractions, we often discover that we still have a place to fit in.
Get to know your customers on a more personal level and understand what’s behind their buying decisions. Make them feel special and important. Engage them while listening between the lines about their needs and concerns. You’re not just providing a product or service; you’re providing a unique and positive experience that will distinguish you from your competitors and lead to more referrals.