The cost of NOT marketing

NOTMarketing costs money. It requires time and energy. Not many entrepreneurs have time or money to spare. So many of them convince themselves that they really don’t need to market their businesses. The reasons are many:

  • “Advertising provides us really good ROI, no point in changing what works” But if it was really working you wouldn’t be reading this
  • “We spend about $60K in trade shows and industry publication and it works”. $60k invested in another activity might work better
  • “No time.”  You’re already spending time marketing, but you may not be doing the right stuff.
  • “Can’t afford it” - You can’t afford not to!

Well, it’s time to realize that by NOT marketing your business you are doing yourself in.  There are both direct and indirect costs of not marketing your business, and they will get you in the end.  There are the obvious sales lost to your competition.  They were found on the first page of a Google search, you weren’t.  Guess who is going to get a call?  One of their exisitng clients forwarded an invitation to a webcast they received from, guess who?  Not you.

The bummer for you is that  you didn’t know you lost these sales because you didn’t even know about the opportunity.  If this continues (not knowing about business opportunities) there will be a steady decline in the growth of your sales, and therefore the growth of your business.  The problem is that both of things, while a direct results of not marketing your business, are also very hard to quantify.  You can track sales that were lost if you were in the running, had deliver a proposal, or quoted a price.  If you didn’t – how do you know that there was a missed opportunity?  By not marketing – you are keeping yourself and yor business out of the running altogether.

The more indirect cost of not marketing is the loss of leverage.  For anyone in “professional services” (consultants, coaches, lawyers, accountants, dentists, etc.) if you’re not marketing to your existing clients, you are losing two valuable assets.  First, these clients are easy opportunities foryour competition tomarket to.  They don’t hear from you but they get all kinds of stuff from the other guys and think “why not check them out?”  Second, your existing clients are the best source of free marketing you could possibly want.  Who better to sing your praises to their friends & colleague that a satisfied customer who can share something about you – a white paper, article or a link to your blog.  It costs a lot more to market to a new client than to maintain a relationship with an existing one.

Now, let’s talk about how much it really costs.  Here are a couple of scenarios for you to consider:


  • Website – using WordPress or a similar platform, you can setup a website or blog for free.  There are thousands of templates and widgets that help you customize the look and add tons of functionality without knowing any programming at all.  The possibilities are endless and the HELP and Support forums are great!
  • Video introduction – using the web cam in your computer you can create a 20 second introduction of yourself and your business.  Post it to your website and upload it to YouTube.
  • Email campaign – using your existing email account, send an email to all of your business contacts pointing them to your new website.
  • Write an article using material you already have and post it to (the top article distribution network)
  • Write a blog entry each week – it doesn’t have to be long, but it has to be valuable, or funny or worth passing along to a friend (bonus points if it is all three!)

Get Some Help

  • Website – you can find a great web designer/developer for about $65 per hour.  With a simple site of about 5 pages it should take them about 10 hours to get the site up and running ($650)
  • Video introduction – there are online services that will create a video for you using your material, still photos, etc.  Purchasing the video is about $80 or you can have them host it for $19 per month. ($80)
  • Email campaign – an email marketing platform will make creating and delivering email campaigns, your newsletter or other communications so much easier.  At the beginning go for one with a flat fee or one that allows you to pay-as-you-go ($200/month)
  • Total = $930 – so now the idea that you can’t afford it is also off the table.

With a little work and some creative ideas there is no excuse for not marketing your business.

Case Study: Rajesh Setty and the “ZEROth” Impression

rajesh setty upbeatRajesh Setty is the kind of guy you’re happy to know.  He is a positive, energetic, upbeat person – hence the title of his book Upbeat.  It isn’t that he is unaccustomed to rejection -he just handles it differently than many people. Rajesh, wrote his first book at the age 13 and it was published after 160 rejections.  He had published 6 books by the time he was 16.  Since then he has earned several degrees, founded several companies, married and had a family.  His personal brand is based on contribution, capacity expansion and (long term) comittment. I sat down with Rajesh and asked him his thoughts on personal branding:

Laura: How do you think about personal branding?

Rajesh: A personal brand for me is a promise that one makes to the world. Since everyone always makes some or the other promise, they can’t NOT have a personal brand. Everyone has one. This is evident in the way people “box” you just the way you will “box” other people. We are always in some sort of a two-way “boxing” game.  A simple way to work on your personal brand is to make it easy for people to “box” you the right way. That is, when asked “What do you do?”, your answer needs to fit into a box that the person is familiar with.  If you don’t tell them which box you belong in, they will put you in a box they design.  You design your own box and then build a bigger box. A point to note here is that what you say has to match with who you really are. Wanting to put in the “right box” does not end with words, it has to be followed by you growing up to those words.

Laura: What do you believe is the first step in building a personal brand?

Rajesh: For me, it is the idea of making the right “ZEROth” impression. Let me explain. Everything you do before you meet someone influences the FIRST impression.  It is how you behave online, your profiles, your comments, your email, voicemail, phone calls…it all matters.  Most people you meet will have heard of you, seen you or been referred to you prior to you establishing a connection with them. Everything up to that point is the “ZEROth” impression and cannot be overlooked.

Laura: How do you continue to build your personal brand?

Rajesh: It comes down to three simple things.  First, I always think of how to increase the capacity of the other person.  What kind of contribution can I make to them. Second, I always find a second reason to do something for them.  Maybe tweet about them, speak to their organization, make an introduction.  and Finally, I am always very careful about the promises I make to myrself.  If I can’t make the commitment then don’t make the promise.  Honor your commitments to yourself like you would to a client.

You can learn more about Rajesh Setty at

How Does Social Media Affect The Bottom Line?

A popular phrase in marketing is “Return On Investment” or ROI.  Executives always want to know the ROI of the marketing tactics used by their staff and sometimes this is easy to determine.  Where it gets murky is when it comes to social media.  There isn’t a way to monitor social media impact at present because social media is not meant to be a marketing or sales channel.  Social media is the opportunity to build relationships with present and future customers, build your brand and create a positive reputation.  Most of the affects of this can’t be quantified.

In my opinion the best practices in social media include:

1.  Build relationships.  Tweeting a couple of times a week or posting to your Facebook profile or Fan Page once in a while isn’t going to build relationships.  You need to monitor your accounts for visitor response at least twice a week if you’re just starting out and more often when you become more experienced.  Answer questions, “like” responses and thank people for commenting.  If you have the time check out the profile of your most vocal fans and follow them as well.

2.  Don’t start a flame war.  Build your reputation by responding positively and constructively to criticism.  Show enthusiasm for suggestions even if they aren’t spot on.  Move potentially destructive conversations off social media and on to e-mail or telephone.   Do feel free to remove comments that are spammy or inappropriate and report people who continuously spam you.  Building your reputation doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat and you have the right to protect your brand.

3.  Monitor conversations about you or your company.  People may be talking about you in a positive or negative manner on their own social media accounts so it’s important that you search for mentions of your company or management staff names and respond appropriately.  You can setup Google Alerts to monitor some of this but you must also manually search social media sites proactively.  You’ll be surprised at what you learn and much of it will be positive.

4.  Use social media to promote but not sell.  No one wants to follow someone on Twitter just to hear over and over again “Buy my book. Buy my book.  Buy my book.” It is permissible, however, to mention a product discreetly.  If you have a book, for example, and you provide an excerpt you certainly may link to the page where more information about the book is available.  Just be discreet and only do this infrequently or you may find yourself talking to yourself.

If your boss asks you for the ROI for the time you spend on social media tell him or her that you are building relationships and no one can put a price on that!

The Dalai Lama and Rules to Live By

I admit it…I like rules.  I’m a Virgo, we like structure, lists and rules (probably why I created the 42Rules book series).  But it certainly is validating when I see that the Dalai Lama likes rules too.  I especially like his Rules #5…Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.  Brilliant advice!

As I read through his list, I started thinking that most of these ideas were familiar to me in some way.  Then I remembered a course I took in college called “World Religions”.  It was a compare and contrast type of course that looked at, duh, all the major world religions.  What I took away from that class was that all the world religions, beliefs and faiths have some sort of common list of “rules to live by”. I know that “all” is a really big word…but in this case it is true.

The thing that I find promising is that all these “rules” are based on some “universal truths”.  There are some things that us as human beings just believe to be true – we should be nice to each other, we shouldn’t kill each other – that kind of thing.

So here is my list of Rules to Live by…what are yours?

  1. Be nice – even to mean people because they need it the most.
  2. Look for the positive in everything – even the really bad stuff.
  3. Like yourself – if you don’t, then no one else will.
  4. Being angry takes way too much energy – better to forgive and learn.
  5. Carpe Diem – seize the day because you only have so many of them.
Leave a comment below and we can see how many of these we can come up with.

Book Excerpt: Pick the problem you want to solve

red question markThe following is an excerpt from 42 Rules of Marketing by Laura Lowell.

The problem most companies have is that they have more ideas than they have resources (money or people) to implement them. You can’t solve everything all at once, so you have to pick the problem you want to solve today. There will always be problems to solve. The important thing is to know what the problems are. Then you can prioritize which to tackle first and which to put off until next quarter (or the following quarter, or the next year…).

Prioritizing activities is difficult for most marketers because it means that something won’t get done. By your very nature, you want to do everything you can to make your company or your product successful. The hard, cold fact is there usually isn’t enough time, money or people to do everything you want to do—right now.

To get beyond this sometimes emotional reaction, ask yourself or your organization a very simple question; “If you can only do one thing—what would it be?”

The answer is your priority. It sets the context for evaluating other options. Which option helps you reach the objective…

  • Faster?
  • For less money?
  • With better results?

Prioritization doesn’t have to be complicated and doesn’t have to take a lot of time. Try following these simple steps next time you’re faced with a difficult prioritization challenge.

  • Brainstorm a list of everything you’d like to accomplish in order to achieve your objectives.
  • Outline the potential impact of each activity on the business objective.
  • Estimate the cost of each activity (time, money and resources).
  • Evaluate the likelihood of success.
  • Identify the activities that provide the biggest return on investment (ROI).
  • Prioritize the activities according to their ROI.

Armed with this information, you are better prepared for the inevitable budget discussions. Depending on the available budget, there is a point at which you will probably run out of money. By evaluating the ROI for each activity, you can determine how far your budget will actually take you. At this point, draw a line. The activities that have been prioritized above the line get done, and things below the line get done later. These are the problems you will solve another day.

Prioritization can get tricky, and sometimes political. This is especially true when the review and approval process involves multiple businesses, decision-makers and executives. People have opinions. Sometimes you agree with them and sometimes you don’t. And sometimes you don’t get to vote. The key to effectively navigate these waters is to be clear in your approach:

  • These are the objectives.
  • This is how these strategies support the objective.
  • This is how much money we have to spend.
  • This is the return on investment for each strategy.

Having laid out an articulate, well thought out assessment of the options, you have done everything in your power to help the organization pick the problem they want to solve. Rest assured—there will always be more problems to solve. Can you think back to a situation where prioritization would have helped you more effectively achieve your objective? I know I can.