We meet a lot of business owners who simply open up their shop and get by on the customers that organically walk through their doors. For others, small business marketing is one of the many tools they use to keep their business healthy, strong, and ahead of the competition. This blog post is for all the small business owners in between – those who feel uneasy when they realize they’ve neglected marketing their brand, but who are anxious about whether taking the plunge into marketing investment will provide the ROI they want to see.
Why invest in marketing?
This took a little work to get our heads around, because we live and breathe marketing. It comes naturally to us. We are the people who can’t help but see lost small business marketing opportunities everywhere we go: bad headshots, confusing logos, and garbled messaging make us lament what the world is coming to.
So we squished out of our marketing heads so we could look at this question with fresh–even skeptical–eyes. What do our clients and future clients see?
Belief No. 1
Business is great, or at least good. There are ups and downs, but overall our balance sheet is healthy.
Even if today is going “well enough,” you can’t take tomorrow for granted. Your competition could up their game, teasing current customers away. The economy could nosedive, leaving your customers with difficult decisions about where to spend their hard-earned dollars. Marketing is one critical way of building a cushion around the future by reinforcing your brand, spreading word of your products and services, and putting yourself where future customers can find you.
Belief No. 2
Marketing costs too much.
You have to spend money to make money. Traditional wisdom says that businesses should spend between 3-6% of their gross income on marketing. Even if you dismiss traditional wisdom, marketing is going to feel like a big bill if you aren’t currently putting money into that vein. But look at it this way: marketing is simply the cost of acquiring new customers and keeping current ones loyal. How much are your customers worth to you?
Making an amazing product and then not marketing it is sort of like making a delicious cake… and leaving it on your kitchen counter. Or setting up a lemonade stand inside your garage. Not every marketing channel is right for every business–and you don’t have to tackle them all! But putting money toward a few well-chosen marketing channels (such as social media, PR, or content marketing) generally more than pays for itself.
Belief No. 3
The return on marketing is impossible to track.
Not if you’re on social media, where analytical data abounds. Or have Google Analytics installed on your website. Or engage current and past customers via email marketing. Modern small business marketing tactics are prized not just for their success, but their ability to target specific customers and gain hard data feedback on who your marketing is reaching and how website visitors flow through your site so that you can streamline their experience to increase conversions. Old school marketing shoots from the hip. We make data-based decisions because we can.
Belief No. 4
Everyone already knows my business and what we’re about.
Nope. They don’t. There is no possible way that everyone who is a potential customer knows about your brand. There are a few large blind spots in every venture. Millennials who don’t subscribe to newspapers? Tourists passing through town? Anyone who doesn’t drive by your billboard? And for those who know about your business, are you sure they know what you want them to know? Marketing gives you the opportunity not only to spread the word but also to control the message. Updating your branding (the words and images you use to talk about your business) means that more people hear about you, and however they hear–whether through your website, a brochure, a social media feed, or word of mouth–they’re receiving the image want to send.
What’s the big picture: why should I invest in small business marketing?
If you are not marketing, you are letting your competition outsmart you, relying on the goodwill of finicky customers, and creating vulnerabilities that you may not be able to recover from in an economic downturn or market shift. Small business marketing has as much to do with maintaining the health of your businesses as it does to growing sales. Don’t let all the hard work you’ve put into creating your product or perfecting your service go to waste by neglecting to spread the good word. Even if you are comfortable with where your business is at, consider marketing to keep it fit and strong for years to come!