The answer is simple: when it’s the wrong marketing. When you are new in business it is really easy to think that you should be marketing wherever and whenever someone offers you an idea—this is not always true.
Those of us who have been in business for awhile may find ourselves swayed by someone with a good story. The other day, for example, I was approached by someone at ChamberMail. ChamberMail is a really great program designed to help Chamber of Commerce members gain exposure. As a chamber member they thought I’d be interested in their program. The ‘mail’ they send is to residents. So this is a great marketing avenue for companies that sell to consumers. I sell to businesses, so this opportunity is pointless for me.
A few days later a client called to talk with me about advertising in a local paper. It’s really a community paper—she heard about it from a store owner when she was shopping. She asked me what I thought, and I told her that while it wasn’t an expensive route to take, it wasn’t going to be terribly effective. She also sells B2B (business to business). Advertising in a community paper is great for businesses that sell to consumers.
The point of these stories is that marketing is only good when it is targeted to your audience. There are any number of opportunities to advertise and all kinds of salespeople will be vying for your dollars. They’ll tell you about their demographics and successes. It’s easy to get caught up in the belief that their venue is going to yield more business for you. I submit that it will only help them make a sale.
Your job is to identify the best places for you to deliver your message. By working through the following steps you’ll be able to determine where your marketing dollars are best spent. You’ll also be able to politely decline offers you receive from the wrong places. It’s hard to argue with reason and sense.
Step 1: Understand your value
The first step in any marketing plan is understanding the value you bring to your clients. It is this value that becomes the basis for your marketing message. Too many people think their message should be framed around what they think is important about their product or service. Not so! If you want people to hear your message, you have to create a message they’ll hear. And that message is the one that speaks to the solution to their problem.
Step 2: Understand your target
You are not going to do business with everyone; nor should you. The best business is done with the right clients. The right clients are those people/companies who need what you offer; those who see your value. Once you know your value as seen in their minds, you’ll have a firm grasp on who they are. You want to market to that target(s).
While there could possibly be an argument that just being out there provides you with an opportunity to be seen by your target, that’s not a very strong idea. You have a limited amount of money for your marketing campaigns. Therefore, you need to make sure they are targeted and effective. Go where your market is; fish where the fish are biting.
Step 3: Find out where your target is and go there
Now that you understand your value, you’ve created your message and determined who your target is, you are ready to figure out where you should be marketing. What does your target read? Where do they go? When you know the answers to these questions you’ll know where and how you should be marketing.
Marketing only works when it is targeted and effective. Advertising anywhere is not an effective strategy. Marketing where your target market is known to be will yield you better results than just throwing it on the wall and seeing what sticks.