OK, so it may seem blindingly obvious, but you’re either pregnant or you’re not. You can’t be half-pregnant.
It’s the same with small business marketing: you’re either all-in, or you’re out. Unless you’re fully committed to implementing lasting and effectual change, you’re wasting your marketing money.
Many small business owners are coming to the realization that they can no longer continue to run their business in the same way that they’ve been doing. It’s no longer working. The answer, more often than not, is radical change. But half-baked, half-committed initiatives aren’t going to move the needle. What’s need is bold and effective change.
Addressing The Causes, Not The Symptoms
So your sales aren’t growing the way you’d hoped. You’re not connecting with your audience. Your advertising isn’t pulling-in inquiries, and your website has a higher bounce rate than an over-inflated basketball. What’s a startup or small business to do?
The temptation for you as a business owner is to shout at your salespeople, or fire the Marketing Director. However, such knee-jerk reactions are not only ineffectual, but they’re looking at the problem from the wrong end of the telescope.
Any sales process is simply the natural end-result of a corporate strategy that embraces marketing, manufacturing, support and so on. In many cases (especially with startups or small businesses, but certainly not exclusive to them) sales aren’t the root cause of the problem.
Lackluster sales are little more than a symptom of the cause. The real, often more serious, underlying issue can be found by looking further up the value chain.
Make Your Small Business Marketing BOLD
With many small businesses, this is where things start to go wonky. Rather than biting the bullet and taking the required actions to begin to effect a remedy, too many business owners wimp-out at the last stage. They dilute the prescription. They take half-measures that may well be a step in the right direction, but are non-committal and don’t go anywhere as far enough to effect real change.
“But making any change is better than making no change, right?”
Wrong. Very wrong. In fact, it’s usually worse than doing nothing.
Because half-way measures are ineffective. When you see the (non) results you get frustrated, disillusioned, and tired. But what’s worse is that the people around you get confused, because they don’t see any tangible results that can be attributed these much-heralded changes. Which makes you even more frustrated. Rinse and repeat…
Halfway solutions are compromises, made because you’re too scared to take the necessary measures. You point fingers at external factors and use them as an excuse not to take action. “It’s the economy”. “It’s the competition”. You convince yourself that things aren’t that bad really, and that everything will work out.
Guess what? They won’t.
‘The Good Old Days’ are gone forever, assuming they ever really existed in the first place. Your business is struggling because its value proposition is no longer perceived as having the same relevance with its target audience.
“Halfway” Marketing Doesn’t Work: No Guts, No Glory
Your (new) job is to find that relevance again, and implement the change within Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, and everywhere else. This means taking a critical internal and external review of the entire organization.
It means looking at how the buying expectations of your prospective customers have changed. It means determining how relevant your products or services continue to be in the opinion of your customers. It means looking at how your industry has changed. How you have changed.
How do you do that? Well, a good starting-point is speaking with your customers. What was it about your business that made them choose to buy from you in the first place? Why didn’t they buy from a competitor? What are they looking for in a supplier now, compared to before? How can you improve their buying experience to the point where you’re the first business they think of?
Only then can the really hard stuff begin: making the tough but necessary decisions.
But don’t even bother trying change the condition of your business if you aren’t willing to make (and effectively execute) those decisions.
It’s all, or it’s nothing. Either pull the trigger on real, meaningful change – or pack up, go home, and stop complaining.