Fear is not your friend

January 2014. Author: Oliver Smith

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Fear of the unknown is common, it's natural and it's common place. When it comes to marketing many small business owners have this fear of the unknown. These businesses have been set up based on their skills, these skills are not primarily connected to marketing.

Okay, I admit that fear might be a strong term, but from many small businesses want to run marketing campaigns to promote their services, products and offers, but put it off due to a variety of reasons. These can include:

Putting off marketing is the worst thing a small business can do. Yes; a business may be very successful without marketing, but a natural decline in customers will happen due to circumstance (moving away, death, being enticed by the competition for example).

I know this is a stupid example, but whenever I think about companies putting off their marketing efforts my mind always relates to a 'Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares' episode I happened to watch (please don't judge me!!). The restaurant was failing and losing money hand over fist, however the owners didn't do marketing to address this. With simple adjustments and a bit of bravado (and a lot of swearing); Ramsay got out on the street with flyers, tasters and all sorts of other activities to get people interested. It worked, albeit a celebrity endorsement does help.

Now when I hear people saying that marketing is too complicated, too expensive or they don't have the time I get a little frustrated. Making excuses is the worst thing someone running a business can do. Sometimes, you've got to stick your chest out and just go for it!

If you read my post 'Everybody is a Marketeer' you'll see that anybody can do marketing. You don't need to be an expert, it doesn't have to cost you mountains of cash or indeed use up all of your time. You don't need to do everything big. Most successful marketing is common sense.

Start small, play about with your messages and how you approach people. Create a simple and logical plan. This can be a piece of paper or a blank document. Something along the lines of:

  1. What do I want to achieve? Win new customers? Sell new services/products? Show your customers loyalty?
  2. What is your message/service/offer? Self explanatory really, if you're winning new customers do you entice them with an introduction offer? If it's a new service; explain the benefits to your customers, that sort of thing!
  3. Work out the logistics. Understand how your service/offer/product affects your business and ensure you can run it smoothly. Think about briefing staff, what additional resource you might need.
  4. Create your marketing material. Okay some people may not be able to do this by themselves, but I happen to know of a very good Toolkit that can do this for you (shameful plug I know!).
  5. How are you going to promote your message? Social media, advertising, direct marketing? How are you going to get your message across
  6. How are you going to track the response and measure the success of your marketing? Track how your marketing is doing, have you set a target? If so, keep an eye on the progress of your campaign to see if you need to ramp up the promotion.

This is the basic outline of a plan. It's simple and anybody can do it. With a little bit of planning you will make sure your marketing is a well oiled machine and brings you the results you desire.

In a long winded way, what I'm trying to say is this:

The worst thing you can do is put off your marketing activity until tomorrow. Sometimes you've just got to take the plunge. Start small and work logically. You need to tell it to sell it.