Ten signs that you could do with strategic marketing advice
There are hundreds of potential marketing advisors for a small business owner. From design agencies, PR specialists, telemarketers, SEO experts, social media bods, media planners, and on, and on. It’s difficult to know who to talk, when and why. Here are ten signs that you could do with some proper strategic marketing input:
You’re not 100% sure where new business actually comes from – how do they find your site? What prompts them to pick up the phone, etc?
You’ve done some work with an agency, but you weren’t too chuffed with the output – what was the brief?
You get lots of leads, but they don’t seem to convert – what is the sales journey, and how well supported is it with powerful marketing content?
You get enquiries for work that you don’t really like doing – is your business clear about what it does best?
You’re always screwed down on price – does your brand and messaging set your business apart?
When asked what your business does, your people all say something different – is your team clear on what you’re about?
You rarely get repeat business or referrals – is your customer marketing and networking strategy creating advocates for your business?
If one big customer left you’d be in trouble – is your business over reliant on one customer, or one market?
You’ve tried telemarketing, PR, advertising or another tactic and it hasn’t delivered – do you have an integrated plan with momentum that all fits together and ties into your sales process?
You’ve read the books and been to some courses – do you know that you need to give marketing some attention, but never quite get around to it when you’re back at the office?
These are all real scenarios that we’ve heard from small business owners in the last 18 months. Small businesses often make do with a ‘marketing-come-reception’ set-up, working with the marketing suppliers run by friends of friends, or the people down the road. And, there’s nothing wrong with that…if you know exactly what you’re doing on the marketing front. If you have an effective strategy clearly mapped-out, and a good grasp of the interplay of the key marketing tactics, you can indeed put together a top notch freelance team to deliver against your sales and marketing objectives. If, however, you’re feeling your way through the discipline, working it out as you go, then you’ll probably find that each supplier you speak to seems to sound pretty sensible.
You may struggle to find your way through all the ‘good ideas’ that they come up with to configure a watertight marketing operation that supports every step of your sales funnel.
In larger organisations it’s the job of the marketing director to pull all this together. Coming in on salaries upwards of £65k, most small business owners we meet simply can’t afford to have a hard-hitting marketing director on their team. So, what do you do? If you find yourself nodding in recognition at any of the statements above, it would be sensible to find yourself a strategic marketing partner who can be your marketing brain – working out what you need to say, to whom, when and through what channel.
About the Author Bryony Thomas of Clear Thought Consulting is a Bristol-based consultant in the UK. Her perspective from across the Atlantic is interesting because it shows that marketing has no borders. The same challenges that are prevalent in Britain are in place all over the world.
So, with all these different experts vying for your attention, here is the best way to work out who is there to really help YOU.
1. Does this person have something specific that they are trying to SELL you? For example, an SEO expert is not necessarily a marketing expert. He may be an SEO expert trying to sell you SEO. Same as an advertising agency who wants to sell you advertising, or a PR consultant trying to sell you PR. Chances are, they are trying to sell you what they represent, not necessarily trying to solve your challenge or your problem from a marketing perspective.
2. Are they asking a lot of questions, trying to drill down to your real need? Or are they fairly quick in suggesting their solution. In this case – BUYER BEWARE.
3. A marketer will ask a lot of questions first, because they have nothing SPECIFIC to sell you. Only a desire to truly find a solution that best fits your problem or challenge. The marketer wants to select a solution from a much bigger toolbox (my toolbox has over 140 tools in it) than does an advertising agency, or a PR consultant or an SEO professional. However, it is based on YOUR need, not their need to sell. Some of the solutions may not even cost you any money – so why would you ignore a look at that?
4. Don’t get me wrong, there is a definite place for the SEO professional, and the advertising agency and the PR consultant. I just don’t believe that it is in the place of solving marketing challenges. They are definitely an important part of the puzzle of marketing, not just the whole puzzle. Beware of falling to that “magic bullet” that is often promised. It does not exist, despite the sizzle that is often presented by very professional sales people.
5. Don’t jump at the first solution that is tossed in your direction. The best way to decide what solution to choose is to compare the pros and cons of different solutions. And have someone work through the different options with you. A decision from a choice of many is a much better than from a choice of only one or two. The marketer is the person best placed to put those choices in front of you – not the SEO or advertising or PR salesperson with a vested interest in what they are trying to sell.
If you have any questions feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 905-886-2235. Our discussions always start with YOUR needs. It’s the SMART way to go.
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