Entrepreneurs are a special breed of people.
They can take a simple idea and spin an entire money-making (hopefully!) business around it.
They are passionate about their product or service and truly believe they have built a better mousetrap.
And, they know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you, me—everyone—needs what they are selling.
So, why, then, do they question whether or not they need an experienced marketing agency to help them get the word out? Moreover, why do so many fail to properly plan for the costs of marketing their wares?
After all, if everyone needs something, they are likely looking for it, right? A smart businessperson would do everything they can to get their game-changing product or service out in front of as many eyes as possible.
But somehow, all too often, they don’t. Perhaps they feel their products should sell themselves. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
More likely, however, it’s because competition is fierce in every marketplace. It’s hard to “invent” something that’s never been invented before. That being said, you can definitely improve on an existing something—but then you have to invest in marketing to tell people about why your new-and-improved widget is better and why people can’t live without it.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), plenty of business owners just don’t seem to be getting this message. Did you know that about 20 percent of all new businesses fail in the first two years after they open? One of the main reasons is that companies fail to plan to market their businesses. And, you know what they say about failing to plan, right? (It’s like planning to fail.)
For real. The statistics don’t lie, and they are not pretty. After five years, almost half of those same businesses have closed up shop, according to the BLS, and just north of 60 percent are “bye bye” after a decade.
It’s not until the 15-year mark that we see about one-quarter of those businesses still serving customers. These specific stats are from early 2021, but experts say they follow the trends started back in the 1990s.
Of course, a great business plan which includes in-depth market research and a hefty budget (with backup funding in place when the coffers dwindle) can improve a company’s chances of survival. Still, startups are facing huge obstacles in today’s ever-changing economy and seemingly never-ending supply of bigger, better purchase options only a few clicks away online.
Improve Your Chances with Better Marketing
It’s funny. Many people absolutely, positively know what they are not capable of doing. For example, no one wakes up and thinks, “Today, I’m going to try my hand at being a doctor.” And maybe you are saying: “Well, of course I’m not a doctor. I wouldn’t pretend I am.”
Can you believe many business owners think you are up to the task of marketing their company in a meaningful (read: profitable) way?
Ahem, if you feel like this is you, relax. You are most certainly not alone. A vast majority of small and mid-sized businesses invest everything in getting up and running, with little left for the most important aspect of sales: telling people you have something to sell!
Worse, far too many companies look at marketing first when it comes to cutting the budget. And that’s assuming they were investing in “getting the word out” in the first place.
The truth is, far too many business owners fail to budget appropriately for a targeted marketing strategy. They think they can ask someone on the team to write a press release or schedule some social media posts. And, if they don’t have someone in-house, they have a cousin/nephew/friend who might be willing to do it for a few bucks. Right?
OK, yes, correct. But in no way is that the right thing to do. Unless, of course, you want to be a failing statistic.
Look at it this way: who does what you do better than you? I would hope you would say “no one!”
Marketing is a honed craft, backed by education, learned skills, best practices and years of experience. It’s the one investment a business owner can make that directly relates to increasing business and growing the bottom line. In other words, marketing=customers.
Not Just Any Kind of Marketing
So, do you need to hire a marketing company to help you promote whatever you sell? Unequivocally, yes. However, it’s not as easy as you would think. You need more than someone standing at the corner with a sign. Those days are long gone.
You need to find a company that understands your business and marketplace. And you want to invest in strategies that are most likely to reach the people who need and want what you are selling. In other words, market your products where your customers are hanging out.
At the risk of sounding trite, if you sell dog food, you won’t move much chow if you advertise in Meow Today. Online, if your product or service is targeted at older customers, Tik Tok videos will likely miss their mark, similar to how your best bet to reach millennials is on Instagram, not Facebook.
An experienced marketing company will know this information. You don’t have to commit the details of marketing strategy to your brain, any more than you need to understand how a doctor treats a particular illness. You select and rely on the best resources available to handle marketing—while you stay focused on what you do best.
Focus on ROI, Not Saving Money
Think about that statement for a moment. If you get a significant return on investment when you put a marketing plan in place, it will pay for itself many times over. While many business owners may be considering whether or not they can afford to pay a marketing company to get the word out, smart business owners are convinced they can’t afford to go without a great strategic, laser-targeted marketing plan. This requires choosing a company with experience in your market, one that’s willing to learn your goals and voice so they can become an extension of your team.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Choose Wisely: If you had a marketing guru on staff, they would already be doing your marketing. (And, they would be doing it well so you wouldn’t be reading this article.) Choosing the admin or an account liaison to manage marketing—even one who may know how to design in Photoshop—is not a recipe for success.
- Know Your End Game: A marketing company will come in handy, not only to keep your current products and services in front of your prospective customers, but marketing experts can assist you in launching new products or programs to attract customer attention.
- Maximize Your Budget: While it’s impossible to tell you (in dollars) how much to spend on marketing (experts say it’s a percentage of your proceeds), we can tell you that you should meet with various companies and listen to a bunch of ideas about how to not only grow your business by attracting customers but also by nurturing your current customers. Note: it’s far cheaper to keep a current customer happy than it is to acquire a new one. You also want to choose a firm that is already talking about developing and building out a solid strategy to attain your future goals.
Once you get some bids for suggested marketing plans, you can determine which company will offer the best value. Notice we didn’t say “most affordable.”
Remember, the idea is to maximize ROI. So, if you spend a little more to get a lot more, the scale tips fully in your favor.
- Give Them a Chance: You may want to see significant upticks in customer counts and money in the bank right away. Of course you do! However, that’s not exactly how marketing works.
Whether we are talking about print or billboards or trade shows or digital marketing, this is not a one-and-done proposition. Great marketing builds upon itself. It’s both a short-term play (think email promoting an event or sale today) versus the slow burn of why a customer should give up their current tried and true “mousetrap” to try yours.
In other words, plan for your marketing budget and agree to stick with a company so they
can show you what they can do for you. That’s how strategic plans work.
Think milestones, not goal posts.
At Nicklaus Marketing & PR, we’ve been there and done that. And we are looking forward to doing it with, and for, you. It all starts with a conversation. There is no one-size-fits-all marketing strategy in our world.
Let’s have a call or a meeting. Talk it out. What’s going on? What do you want people to know? What have you already done that has worked—and more importantly, what has not worked?
Trust me, you’ve never met a more creative group of thinkers. We get marketing inside and out. We invite you to put our expertise to work for your company by contacting Nicklaus today and scheduling a free consultation.