Updated: Nov 30, 2019
Compared to the creative energy of innovating new products and services, it’s frustrating for early-stage entrepreneurs to invest in an abstract activity that’s difficult to measure effectiveness.
In a recent post, I conducted a survey asking entrepreneurs what mattered most to them in growing their business. Granted, the results were not a rigorous quantitative analysis, rather a quick snapshot of what is on the minds of entrepreneurs and solo professionals when thinking about how to grow their business to the next level.
In thinking more about the results of the survey, I was fascinated with one particular result–the majority of entrepreneurs stated they don’t like marketing. In fact, over 80% said it was their least favored activity. Do entrepreneurs hate marketing?
I’m thinking they do!
Compared to the creative energy of innovating new products and services, I imagine it’s very difficult for early-stage entrepreneurs to spend time and money on an abstract activity that is difficult to measure its effectiveness. Marketing activities, for the most part, can seem like a big waste of time. So much energy goes in and little return comes back
A glut of marketing gurus.
With so much frustration over marketing efforts and effectiveness, it’s easy to see why there is an abundance of online marketing gurus out there hawking their magical training formulas claiming “crushing it” sales results if you’ll willing to cough up a few grand for their program. True enough, PT Barnum is still right– there’s a sucker born every minute. If only it were that easy.
The web has evolved into the premiere marketing channel for enterprises large and small. Social media platforms for building an audience of buyers are now ubiquitous.
Of course the downside of all this is more noise and clutter!
The biggest competition to your business is noise and clutter. Customers simply are bombarded with unending marketing messages of all types. Attention spans are growing shorter, audiences are fragmented and making any sort of impression on them is ever more difficult. Little wonder there is a plethora of marketing and sales advice online for entrepreneurs who seek an easy button for their marketing. Truth is there is no such thing.
It reminds of the California Gold Rush, where most of the people who got rich were the ones selling shovels to the miners.
There is no easy button.
Marketing is work! To be an effective marketer requires sustained effort. Most entrepreneurs think marketing is what you do when business is slow. This is a fatal mistake. Marketing must be an everyday priority if you are to have and maintain a steady stream of prospects eager to do business with you.
Marketing tactics and channels in our digital world has never been more diverse, cheap and easy to implement. But with cheap and easy comes more complexity and commoditization–email, direct mail, earned media, paid media, blogging, social media–all form a tactical hairball that simply overwhelms most early-stage entrepreneurs. Little wonder entrepreneurs hate marketing. It’s hard work that requires a big financial investment with little evidence any of it will pay off.
Regardless, if you are to grow your business to the next level, marketing (and sales) is important work that needs doing everyday. Your results will proportionate to your level of enjoyment.
To push or to pull that is the question.
Surprisingly many entrepreneurs still think marketing is about promotion and selling–pushing a steady stream of outbound promotional messages to customers who could care less hoping something will stick. More surprising, many entrepreneurs find selling to be an equally distasteful activity and many are loathe to spend time and energy there. Most still believe marketing and sales is an obnoxious pushy activity.
Modern marketing is no longer about demand generation and sales, it’s about community and shared values.
To make even the slightest dent in the mind of a prospective customer, your marketing activities must have a perceived intrinsic value to the customer. In other words, your marketing becomes a valuable product in and of itself. When this happens, you’ll notice a gravitational force pulling prospects to you in droves.
Why? Because birds of a feather will always flock together. Your marketing resonates with shared values. Customers identify you (your business) as one of them. Prospects quickly recognize that your very presence in the marketplace is valuable and useful to them–even if they don’t buy.
The cart before the horse.
One of the key attributes all entrepreneurs have is a gift for taking decisive action.
Most entrepreneurs are willing to try just about anything if they believe it will grow their business. However, when it comes to marketing their business (especially when they need business), many entrepreneurs will resist taking action. Many do not realize that to have the insight to take the right action at the right time requires a strategy.
The familiar expression “ready, fire, aim” applies here.
The truth is most early stage entrepreneurs do not have a sound strategy in place to guide and inform their marketing tactics. Strategy is a head game. Strategy is about creative thinking not random action. Strategy comes before tactics. This is a critical truth in modern marketing.
The core elements of a modern marketing strategy.
If you’re an early stage entrepreneur or solo professional struggling with sustained energy for marketing your business, you might appreciate what exactly forms the raw material of marketing strategy. If you are to ever enjoy the process of marketing your business effectively, you’re going to need solid answers to these questions:
Why does your business exist beyond moneymaking?
What greater and uncommon value do you bring to the marketplace through your products and services?
Who represents the best customer who will pay a premium price to use the value you bring to them?
What drives these higher value customers to buy products or services in your category?
What makes your business distinctive and remarkable from your competitors?
What proof do you have that your value proposition resonates, differentiates and substantiates with your target customers and clients?
When you have more clarity to answer these fundamental questions, you’ll automatically have more confidence in your specific actions and tactics. And when you feel more confident, you will naturally enjoy the process of marketing your business significantly and your results will be self-fulfilling.
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