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Marketing 101

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SECTIONS
Who Should Do Your Marketing?
Marketing Defined
What is Successful Marketing?
Common Mistakes in Marketing
What Must Go Right for Advertising to Work
How Much Should You Spend on Advertising?
What If You Are Out of Money?
Methods to Increase Revenues
Who Should You Advertise To?

 

Marketing is the action of attracting customers. It’s how customers perceive your business and website. In this article, we will explore in detail the things that work and don’t work in marketing. We will show you common mistakes people make in marketing, and the steps to fix them. You will discover how much money you should spend on advertising, and what to do if you run out of money.

 

Who Should Do Your Marketing?
Marketing is one of the biggest sources of frustration and disappointment for many business owners. An advertising sales rep knocks on their door, and they put money (perhaps a lot of money) with the rep. To the business owner’s great disappointment, the marketing efforts barely produced any results. What’s even worse – the company is now low on funds.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you’ll never have to deal with marketing again? Wouldn’t you feel so much more relaxed and less stressed if a constant stream of customers were always rushing to your door? The thought of becoming an absentee owner sounds so good to so many people. People think to themselves, “If I can just become an absentee owner, I’ll never have to deal with marketing again.” What a relief of stress!

Then, there are these marketing and web site advertising agencies that seem so appealing. These people are professionals in marketing! They dedicate their careers to online and traditional marketing, and their reputation depends on the success of their marketing efforts. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just hand over all your marketing to them, so you’ll never have to worry about marketing again?

Let me dispel two myths right now that could save you from wasting thousands and thousands of dollars.

The first myth is the idea that you’ll never have to worry about marketing again. You need to spend your time reviewing advertising materials, analyzing the effectiveness of past campaigns, advertising, and making sure that the business and website is perceived the right way by customers.

The second myth is that an advertising agency or web marketing company will be able to solve all your marketing headaches for you. So what’s wrong with hiring an advertising or design agency to handle all your marketing needs? Several things. First, these people called “Account Executives” are just a fancy name for “Sales Rep”. If you ever talk to one of them, one of the first questions they’ll ask you is, “Mr. Owner, how much money do you have in your marketing budget?” Since these sales reps are often paid on a commission, they’ll then “prescribe” the advertising for you based on how much money you have. Are these the best advertisements for you? Not necessarily. They are just the ones you could afford to pay.

Next, these advertising agencies often have relationships with specific companies such as a certain newspaper or radio station. Guess what these ad agencies are likely to prescribe for you? Newspaper and radio ads! Is that the best advertising strategy for your company? What about designing mini websites, landing pages, Pay Per Click campaigns?

The biggest problem we have with ad agencies, however, is not the effectiveness of their suggestions. The biggest problem we have with them is that you don’t learn anything. It’s like taking the quick fix approach. We have heard of business owners who’ve spent $50,000 or even $100,000 to hire an ad agency. In the best case scenario, the advertising campaign worked extremely well. But the owner still has no clue about marketing, and why it had worked so well. What happens if one year down the road, the same advertising doesn’t work any more? Are you going to spend another $50,000 or $100,000 to hire that agency again? What if you can’t afford them? Are you going to go with some cheap marketing consultant who promises to solve all your marketing headaches for $500? Is their advice really trustworthy? We all know what I`m refering to. The "Search Engine Optimization for $99 per month! First Page Results Guaranteed!" nonsense.

If you don’t learn marketing yourself, you will forever be at the mercy of sales reps, consultants, and advertising agencies that want to take your money. All kinds of people want to take advantage of you because they know that marketing is one of the biggest pains for small business owners. You will see some marketing seminar or audio program that promises to give you free web design templates or marketing tips. It’s so easy…All you do is fill-in-the-blank, follow the formula, and send them out! To be frank with you, we’ve tried those, and we either got terrible response rates, or a bunch of angry customers who got offended by the marketing materials.

We are not trying to bash our industry here. After all, we are website consultants, and we teach marketing. The point we are making here is that you will never know whose advice to listen to if you don’t learn marketing yourself. If you don’t understand marketing, and three marketing gurus show you three different ways to market your business, I bet you’ll have trouble choosing which one to go with.

You are the person who should handle the marketing for your business. If your company’s marketing doesn’t work, customers won’t come in. If customers don’t come in, you’ll be out of business in no time. Therefore, it follows that giving away the responsibility of marketing is like giving away the life of your business. You will forever be depending on someone else to make your business work. If that person you’ve put so much trust and faith into (whether it’s an agency, consultant, or employee) – if that person doesn’t bring in the amount of business you had hoped, you’ll be back to where you are with the exception of having less money in your bank account.

I am not saying marketing is easy. If you’ve never been taught in marketing, it can seem like the most daunting subject. It’s so personal and so close to you, because your livelihood, in many ways, depends on the success of your marketing. Most people we meet have a lot of pains related to marketing. For some reason, this just seems to be the one area they cannot figure out. For example, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) seems so mysterious and magical. It had made so much sense before when some sales rep or consultant explained it to you. You tried their methods, and it was nowhere close to your expectations.

So what should you do? First, you need to start by un-learning things you might have heard about marketing before. You heard me right. You must first unlearn what you have in your head before you can absorb our marketing knowledge. You see, everyone seems to have a different opinion about marketing. Every consultant, every guru, every friend, every sales rep, every agency…Everybody will tell you something different about marketing. If you try to absorb everything that everyone says and try to synthesize and come up with a solution yourself, you will be thoroughly confused.

 

Marketing Defined
There is a big difference between marketing and advertising. Marketing is how customers perceive your business. This perception is influenced by the advertising materials you send out, but it’s much more than that. How customers perceive you is also influenced by how courteous your customer support staff are, how well your website is designed (Does it look outdated? Does it look clean or cluttered?), how quickly you respond to customers’ concerns, the quality of the work you do for your customers… Everything that affects the customers’ perception of you is marketing.

As you can see, advertising is only one component of marketing. Successful online advertising brings customers to your website, but whether customers stay with you is another matter. You can make big claims in your advertising and bring lots of customers to your landing page, but if you cannot service them well, your marketing is not successful.

In order for your marketing to be successful, your customers must perceive your website as a place worth coming back to. So what is a place worth coming back to? What kind of perception should you strive for? There are several possibilities:

  1. Cheapest prices around
  2. Widest selection
  3. Best value
  4. Highest quality work
  5. Experts in this type of work
  6. Most comprehensive guarantee
  7. Best customer service

The list can go on and on. All of the above perceptions have worked for different companies. For your marketing to be successful, your customers need to perceive your business as the place that offers the best customer service.

 

What is Successful Marketing?
What does successful marketing look like? How do you know when you’ve done a good job at marketing your web presence and business? The answer is very simple. If your marketing is successful, your revenues should be growing steadily.

Notice that I used the word revenues instead of profits. There is a big difference between revenues and profits. Having more customers, more repeat sales, and having customers spend more money each time they come are activities that increase your revenues. Basically, you bring more money in the door. If you manage this money well, you will take more money home. If you don’t manage this money well, you might have brought in a lot more customers, but still take home the same amount of money as before.

Marketing is the activity of bringing more money in the door. Finance is the activity of managing that money so you will take home more money. If you did a great job at marketing, your revenues will increase. If you did a great job at finance, your profits will increase. In other words, successful marketing does not necessarily lead to your taking home more money. In order for you to take home more money, you must combine good marketing with good finance.

Another thing to point out is that if your marketing is successful, your revenues should be growing steadily. Notice I didn’t say the faster your business grows, the better. This is a very important point to make. A lot of entrepreneurs went out of business because their companies grew too fast.

At first, this might seem like a contradiction. How can someone go out of business by bringing in too much money in the door? The answer to this contradiction is not so obvious at the beginning. But once I point it out to you, you’ll begin to understand why steady growth is better than growing too fast. When your company grows too fast, you bring in a lot more money in the door. You have a ton of customers, and you have to service every one of them. First of all, you’ll be busier than ever. In the past, you are able to take the time to really make sure you do a good job for each customer. Now, you are rushing everybody just to get all the jobs done.

Your customers' satisfaction level might go down. They might have to wait a lot longer to get serviced because there are 5 other customers ahead of them. So the first problem with growing too fast is that you can’t service each customer as well as you can before. The second problem with growing too fast is that you might have to develop and new web modules, hire new web designers, programmers and customer support staff just to service this surge of customers. All these additions are expensive!

Let me ask you this. If you’ve owned your business for a while, isn’t it true that business comes in cycles? Isn’t it true that there are certain times of the year when you are really busy, and certain times of the year when you’re not? What happens if there is a business downturn? What happens when the surge of customers is over, and you find yourself not having enough work to do?

You’ve just spent a lot of money hiring new designers, programmers, SEO consultants and more. Now, you have to pay all these employees that don’t have enough work to do. It’s a business downturn, so you don’t bring in the door a lot of cash either. You have all these employees that are bored, and you have to pay them all. If you start firing employees, it might lower everyone’s morale. When your business is low on cash, things can get really ugly. Many companies grow too fast, run out of cash, and go out of business.

Finally, the third reason people go out of business by growing too fast is that they don’t know how to manage the surge in revenues. If you suddenly get a lot more customers, you suddenly bring in a lot more money in the door.

What do you do with all that money? Most people don’t know what to do. They’ve never brought in so much money before, so they misspend the money. It’s a little like suddenly winning a lottery of 40 million dollars.

What do you do with all that money? Most people start wasting money and spending like crazy, because they think they’ll never run out. Well, believe it or not, a business downturn comes, and they not only are short on cash, but they’ve also acquired the bad habit of spending money like crazy.

More people go out of business by growing too fast than not growing fast enough. That’s why we say that the sign of a good marketing program is to see your business grow steadily, not explosively. This brings up the question: what is good, steady growth? What is a healthy growth rate? A healthy growth rate is to grow your revenues by 10-20% per year. Growing by 20% a year is almost pushing it, so we would say 15% a year is probably a very good growth rate. If your revenues grow by 10-20% per year, you would have done an excellent job on marketing.

 


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