Do you remember what it's like to ride a rollercoaster? The anticipation as you strap yourself into your seat. The excitement and anxiety you feel as you're slowly taken to the top. At the end of your ride you're breathless. The wait in line was worth it.
Have you ever felt like your business was an emotional rollercoaster?
That you were strapped to a sporadic marketing machine? When it's good you make way more leads than you can handle. Your product or service is in demand. You're a hot seller and at times, it's a bit much to keep up with. So you take your foot off the marketing gas pedal.
And things slow waaay down.
Business screeches to a halt. Your marketing can't seem to keep cash flow where you need it. You find yourself struggling. You're forced to take deep discounts or do work you hate to keep things going. You feel cheap. When things were good you told yourself they'd be different this time. But it's still hard.
What makes marketing so hard for small businesses?
Scarcity. It's not so much about money as it is about people. If you're running a small business you wear lots of hats. You're managing the finances, doing the sales and marketing, filling orders and helping with customer service. There isn't enough of you to go around. In the early days it seems like you're running from one fire to the next.
And some fires are more urgent than others.
When you spend time on marketing (fire) you bring in new customers and start making sales. But now you need to help do the work (fire). Your team will also need help with customer service if something goes wrong (fire). At some point, marketing is forced to take a back seat. So you continue to run from one fire to the next, while the leads and sales slowly dry up.
Which means you need a change if your business will survive.
But the question is what? What specifically do you change to make marketing consistent and easy?
Your marketing needs leverage, and a system to organize and guide that leverage.
Leverage is anything you can use to market your business without being involved.
Books, podcasts, videos, products, emails, blog posts are all great examples of leverage. If you can use it to market your business without actually being involved, you've got leverage.
You also need a system. Lots of businesses have leverage, but most don't know how to use it; their leverage is disorganized. The right system shows you the kind of leverage you need, how to organize it and what you should offer to customers first.
At that point, your marketing isn't dependent on you anymore.
You send your target audience to your leverage pieces once the right system is in place. Instead of chasing after each individual customer, your system qualifies and disqualifies each customer. Which means you spend more time with the right people. And little to no time with the wrong customers, knowledge vampires or parasites that suck up large amounts of your time.
Marketing can be easy and effective, if you have the right system.
A good system shows that there's an ideal order to buying. Let's look at two real consultants, Nathan and Jason, for an example of what I mean.
Nathan wants consulting clients so he...
1. Writes a book
2. Conducts workshops to share his expertise
3. Records and sells these workshops
4. Creates helpful tools and resources customers can use
5. Offers consulting to customers who need more help
Jason wants consulting clients so he...
1. Starts a consulting business
2. Buys a list
3. Starts cold calling
4. Gets a few customers but eventually stops marketing so he can help customers
Can you see what's happening here?
Nathan uses a system to create leverage and he shares that in strategic places. But his marketing isn't dependent on him. His system sends customers to him day after day. Jason on the other hand runs himself into the ground.He spends money on leads that he cold calls relentlessly. When he gets a client, he stops marketing so he can help his client. But once the work is done, he's back to struggling.
Marketing gets easier for Nathan and harder for Jason.
Nathan spends more of his time improving his system. He creates more leverage and finds new ways to share it. He builds an audience of eager customers over time. These customers value his hard work and treat him as the expert he is.
Jason on the other hand, has no audience. He spends more money on leads and ads. He cold calls each lead and follows up consistently. But it's consistently hard for him to get a customer.
The people he talks with view him as a pest, a needy and desperate wannabe. The customers he does have don't respect him. They constantly haggle for lower prices. They use his competitors as bait to get him to lower his prices. Nathan's business will continue to grow. But Jason's going to be out of business if he doesn't make some changes.
These changes are great and all, but it won't work.
Most business owners don't have the time for marketing. And if you don't have time for marketing, how are you supposed to use this leverage and systems stuff?
There's more than one way to solve this problem.
And it starts with understanding your customers. Let's say you sell swimming pools. That sort of purchase is probably going to be a one time sale right? How are you supposed to create leverage with something like that?
You teach customers about their pool.
You teach them about mold, and hairline cracks in swimming pools. You show them pictures, and explain what a dirty pool does. Then you sell them products and services that solve their problem. But instead of creating all of this leverage yourself you partner up with another company that does all of the work for you. You get free content and a share of the profits; they get instant access to new customers. You may be short on time but that doesn't mean you can't get this done. As the saying goes, where there's a will there's a way.
But you still have to be involved right?
You'll want to be involved at first. It's your business so you'll want to make sure things are working as you need them to. As you stabilize your system and tweak your leverage pieces you can slowly remove yourself. When it's done well, you'll have a choice.
Marketing doesn't have to be an emotional roller coaster.
Small business marketing is hard for most people, but it doesn't have to be hard for you. With the right system and the right leverage, your business can grow without you, no firefighting required.How about you? What are some things you hate spending time on in your business? How will you create marketing leverage in your business?