Having spent the better part of 15 years in marketing, I suddenly found myself offering to write a blog on the subject as part of my little side hustle, and I am stumped. Thanks meghanmarketing.com for the challenge.
I have the experience. I have some qualifications. But what pearls of wisdom can I impart in a 1500 – 2000 word guest blog article?
I fell into marketing by accident. Again and again. I wasn’t running around as a 6-year-old saying I want to be a marketing manager when I grow up. I actually studied software programming after school. But I have to be honest, when my fellow coders could be found huddling over their strong coffee’s first thing mid-morning bragging about how many lines of code they did last night, (no that is not a typo – code, with a d) I knew I was destined for more than just binary digits.
When I studied marketing (having already been in the thick of it for a number of years already) I learned about the 4 P’s of marketing aka the marketing strategy tools; Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Then we found a few more P’s to add to the mix – Packaging, Positioning and People. It is a fancy way of saying you need to tell people that you have something to sell, in the right way, at the right time and place, in a cute little eco ozone/ animal/ earth/ friendly reusable, recyclable package. Easy peazy. Not!
Another very succinct definition of marketing repeated to me years ago was this little gem…
“Marketing is the process of going all the way down to the end of the road only to find out it was the wrong one.”
But times they are a changing and now, through online opportunities with cookies, re-marketing, segmentation, personalisation, secretly recorded conversations with friends over lunch (we have a long standing experiment at the office where we “discuss” a topic with our phones in the other room and see if facebook can guess what we were talking about), you have the ability to zone in on your target customer faster than my kids can get to the sweetie table at a party.
But none of this is new. All you need is internet, a google search bar, perhaps a Udemy account, a few Ted Talks under your belt and some time, and you can figure this all out. The theory at least.
What I can tell you about marketing is that theory is great, but is often left behind on the pages of books, gathering dust while you sweat trying to SWOT, waiting to align your objectives with goals and KPI’s all in the name of ROI’s ASAP. Real life gets in the way.
I have worked for large and small companies, but the most I have learned about business and marketing has been from small start-ups, owner managed business and by working on my side hustle which is blogging for now but with plans for offering content creation and digital marketing strategies.
For what it’s worth, here is what I know.
Firstly, I would repurpose the 4 P’s (Principles) like this;
Purpose, Passion, Planning & Perseverance
If you are in business just because you need to sell something to make some money, you will fail. You need a purpose. Are you wanting to delivery ethically sustainable home cooked meals for stressed out working parents? Are you wanting to be a life coach to help others find their purpose? Are you an eco-warrior looking to supply reusable, sustainable or recyclable products? Your purpose will not only set the foundation for your business, it will also tell your story and marketing is all about storytelling. Your purpose will be the inspiration for your marketing strategy, not your product. Simon Sinek has cornered the market on finding your purpose. If you have time, watch his videos. He wrote a book called Start with Why.
If you are passionate about what you do, it will show. You cannot fake passion. It is authentic and contagious. Your clients will see it, feel it and want to share it. It will weave its way through everything you do. Your passion will be the catalyst to promote your marketing strategy.
Nothing will happen without a plan. Want to wake up the morning and exercise, then journal while sipping on a cup of hot water and lemon? You will need to set your alarm early, space to exercise, a mat, a journal, a pen and lemons! It doesn’t just happen.
Plan it out. Write it down. It is worth it. Write it all down, everything. In fact, plan to plan! It doesn’t have to be some fancy business or marketing plan template. Just write it down. In a book, on paper, or online using a nifty app like Evernote so you can keep track of your planning notes on your phone, tablet or laptop. Have a 2-3 month plan and then a 10 year plan. Everything in between will be covered if you know what you are doing now and know where you want to end up.
If you are starting from scratch your marketing plan could be as simple as;
- Create logo & pay off line
- Brand identity (keep it simple to start – font and colours – it will grow and mature)
- Identify unique selling points (Keep it to 5 max)
- Write down the purpose of the business (Your story)
- Create a facebook and Instagram business account
- Invite family and friends to like your page and ask them all to refer a friend.
Or it could me more advanced for your digital marketing strategy to include;
- Content research
- Hashtags options
- Photo curation or create your own photo library
- Photo editing
- Digital format platforms? blogs / videos / podcasts / emails
- Organic digital growth plan (SEO, content, links, audience engagement)
- Paid for digital advertising options (Google Adwords / facebook ads / Instagram)
- Social media content planning
Some days will be awesome. Your Insta posts are getting likes, you figured out how to create an email campaign in Mailchimp. Life is good. Other days will leave you questioning your life choices when everyone else seems to be successful and you can’t string a sentence together for your new blog section of your website.
However, keep at it. It is not going to be some amazing one-off marketing “silver bullet” that will change your life and catapult your business into astronomical success. That belongs in the unicorn and fairies category. Even those overnight success storied we read about are never “overnight”. Trust me, they have been working at their side hustle for a long time, without a doubt.
The difference between success and failure is simple daily disciplines – little productive actions – repeated consistently over time. This is the Slight Edge Principle by Jeff Olson.
The problem is that as it is slight, you don’t always notice the benefits immediately. In fact, that’s the point! You can’t. However, if you do get a chance to read the book, you will understand that The Slight Edge principle either works for you or against you. There is no neutral or middle ground. You are either going up or you are going down. And you definitely want to be going up.
Secondly, I can’t complete a marketing blog without the obligatory….
Top 10 Tips
Disclaimer – these may be subject to change depending on level of experience, knowledge gained and number of successful failures completed.
Tip # 1 Do what you know. Learn what you don’t.
If you don’t know the first thing about digital remarketing, don’t do it. And please, don’t get a company to run digital marketing campaigns that you don’t understand. You will never benefit from it unless you, as the business owner know enough to understand the benefits.
Ignorance is not an excuse.
Look it up, watch a video. Find out more. Ask questions. If you are excellent with people, then get out there and be the face of sales. Knock on doors. Pick up the phone. If you have a knack for writing then create blogs or advice pieces to promote your business. Do what you know. What you don’t know, learn.
Tip # 2 Get the basics right.
Don’t waste your precious time trying to open a facebook ads account when you haven’t got a logo, or a plan in place first. Have you got your selling points and benefits on a one-pager? Do you have your price list sorted? Is your phone number on your business card correct? Does your email work? In my experience sometimes it’s the little basic things that can trip up an otherwise excellent marketing campaign. Imagine getting great traction on a facebook advert gone viral only to have the incorrect contact details and therefore never get any of the leads. #fail.
Tip # 3 Never underestimate your network.
This is something I only started realising the importance of the last few years. Your mom friends….do you know what they do? They might be business owners too that could benefit from a collaboration. Your book club girls could be your clients? Don’t be afraid to tell your friends and family what you do. Join online communities. Join real life communities. There are women in business groups and clubs near you. Participate, share, get involved. It will pay off. #HelloBossCreative is an example of a next level business mastermind community created by the awesome Ashley Knight.
Guys, if you are reading this, I mean no disrespect here. There are of course business groups for you too.
Tip # 4 Make use of awesome apps
There is always an app for that. Here is a list of my current favourites.
Tip # 5 Don’t wait for everything to be perfect.
Get your basics in place and then go for it! Don’t wait for the right day, month, season, economic climate, your husband to get over his stressful period at work, or for the kids to be older. You are getting older. There will never be a perfect time. You will never be ready. You will only know more and grow and succeed by DOING.
My favourite rule to live is Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule. It will change your life. I have 5, 4, 3, 2,1 written out and printed on my wall. True Story.
If you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea – Mel Robbins
Tip # 6 Ignore the Competition
If your competitor is advertising on billboards, it doesn’t mean it’s the right strategy. They could well be wasting money on it. Or perhaps they got that spot for a fraction of the price. If you follow suit it could bankrupt you and if your strategy is to follow your competition then I’m afraid you will never succeed and will most likely just be following in their failures but 6 months later. Do your research, know your customer and trust your instincts. Give your competitors a cursory glance now and then if you must but I personally wouldn’t waste my time monitoring what they are doing. You do you.
Tip # 7 Less is more
If you are doing your own marketing, do less but do it well. No….do it great. Be really really good at a few key things instead of spreading your time and money on too many different marketing platforms being just okay. Focus on facebook posts for example and do them well. Research, refine, re-evaluate its relevance, then redo. There is so much to learn in the digital media space that just as you have got your head around algorithms, they change it. We can’t be experts at all things – refer to Tip # 1 so pick one or two. Hopefully you will be so good at it that business grows and then you can employ the experts to run additional marketing channels. Less is more with perseverance.
Tip # 8 It’s buzzing, but is it right for you?
Just because the latest and greatest are all buzzing about the new facebook automated campaigns, doesn’t make it right for your business marketing. Before you get carried away with all the hype, do your due diligence and make sure it fits in with your strategy and budget. The latest Google re-marketing offering could do wonders for companies selling pet accessories that can be shipped anywhere, but it might not work for your professional organising service that only you can only do within a 10km radius.
Tip # 9 Follow the free advice
Subscribe to podcasts. Follow your business hero’s. Sign up for the free training. I mean WHY NOT? You have nothing to lose except time and a little sleep, right? Be selective and hone in on those speakers, leaders, trainers and topics that will be of value to you. You will be able to learn enough to be comfortable and confident without having to deep dive into the detail. Of course, you are most welcome to if you have the means. Knowledge is power and becoming an expert in your field will undoubtedly set you apart from your competitors (who are doing who knows what right now because why? We don’t care)
Tip # 10 Enjoy the ride!
I don’t know about you, but when I have the rare opportunity to take my “Mom hat” off and go on a ladies’ night out, my favourite part is actually the getting ready bit. We all meet at Sharon’s place, with wine and a good playlist. We try on outfits, help each other with makeup and hair and enjoy the preparations before the big night out. Yes of course the night out is fantastic because we planned it to be, but I enjoy everything leading up to it just as much, if not more so. The same can be said for running and marketing your own business. It can be daunting, and tough, and maybe lonely at times. You will fail, you will find new friends and more confidence. You will learn and grow and fall down again. You will tweak and refine your purpose and your marketing plans.
If you have your purpose, along with passion and the perseverance to execute your plan, then you are #winning. Enjoy the ride.
The Business of Marketing, Perfectly Sorted.