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.

Is it worth it? The ROI of Social Media

MarketingSherpa - May 2010 (

The age old question – Is it worth it?  This question gets asked of all marketing program, each quarter, each year.  All companies do it – an annual budget plan.   Everyone wants to know which activities have earned a positive return on their investment (ROI).  Of course they do – you don’t want to continue throwing money into something that isn’t delivering results.

Social media is one of the newer additions to the marketing arsenal.  And as such, the jury is still out on the overal ROI of social media activities.  However, in a recent study conducted by MarketingSherpa (May 2010) perceptions of social media are trending positively when it comes to budget allocation.

Almost half of the respondents (mostly mid-large sized companies) viewed social media as a promising tactic and are planning to moderately increase budget allocation – good news!   A full 7% can measure a positive ROI resulting in a significant increase in spending – great news!  So when all is said and done, less than 1/3 are still questioning the value of social media – even better news for those of you looking for budget.

Normally, when there is a new technology or new approach to marketing, it takes the the money folks a long time to warm to the idea of actually spending money on something they believe is “unproven”.  However in these economic times, when a little money spent on social media can go a long way, it appears that those same money folks have finally come to grips with the fact that this stuff does work. Especially now that we have some measurable results to report.

Like other marketing activities, social media will only be effective and deliver the required results, when part of an overall strategy.  As I have often written in this blog, all good marketing starts with understanding your objectives.  What do you want to accomplish with social media?  What role does it play in your marketing mix?  How will you measure that success?  If you don’t have a target to shoot for – how do you know if you’ve hit the bulls-eye.

The next, and probably most important thing to understand, when investing in social media is your audience.  What type of social media do they use?  Where to they hang out? Who do they read?  Who do they go to for recommendations? Armed with this information you can develop an effective social media strategy and target the appropriate platforms.  You don’t want to put all your focus on LinkedIn, if you audience is really into FaceBook.

Now you are set up for success. You know what you want to accomplish, who you are targeting and which platforms are a god strategic fit.  Now it’s time to engage and get going.  social media is, well, inherently social.  A good presence is defined (according to me) as active, timely and authentic.  I can see that real people are behind the presence of the company – there is a name to go with the brand.  I see posts, updates and information on a regular basis and it is relevant to what is going on in the industry, my business, and the world. Plus, what is coming through has a voice, tone and intention that “feels” real (not like the PR agency is writing all the Tweets, or posting on the FanPage).

With you newly found social media busget, make sure to take sometime and think about what you want to accomplish, and how you’re going to measure it so that come next years busdget cycle you are armed with an ROI that will earn you a budget increase – probably the best news of all.

There is still time

red clockIt’s November. Usually at this time of the year, a lot of businesses have already given up on meeting goals or projections, and those who have hit their numbers are ready to enjoy some well earned “down time”.  Not so fast…

There are still two full months left – that’s 57 days.  Many people think it is too late to start a new campaign.  Not true.  They figure ramp-up time would take too long.  Also, not true.  Plus, they think it’s too hard to get their message through all the holiday hoopla.  Wrong again.

Let’s just break it down.  With 8 weeks left, here is an example of a marketing campaign that you can put to work right away.

Week 1 – Research: What’s going on in your industry?  What’s the “hot topic”?  What are people worried about?  Be specific and get details.  This is the key to a great campaign – focusing on what your audience cares about.  Figure out how your company, products or services can address their concerns.  Create some messages that tie directly to this issue.

Week 2 – PR: Target the top 5-10 trade publications in your industry.  Find the contact info for their editors (usually on their webpage or check out the articles they’ve written and Google them).  These folks are always looking for real news over the holidays.  That’s exactly what you’re going to give them.  Based on the research you did last week, you are going to email all of the editors at these top publications with your story idea.  Keep it short, on point and make sure you explain how it is relevant to their audience.  Remember this is a news piece featuring you, not a promotional piece pushing your stuff.

Week 3 – Content: Based on the story ideas you came up with for the media, build a few deliverables you can use in all your marketing.  Create a video and post it to YouTube. Keep it under 3 minutes, watch the lighting and background, and make it about your customers.  Host a webcast where you present information and take online questions.  Again, short is good. A 30-minute webcast with Q&A is a great way to respect people’s time and give them great info.  With the content of your webcast, you can create a white paper.  Turn it into a .pdf and you have a valuable resource to share.

Week 4 – Email outreach: Armed with all your newly created content, create a series of weekly emails to go out to all your existing customers.  These folks know and love you so they are going to be interested in what you have to say, especially since it is dealing with one of their biggest issues at the moment.  Write and schedule the emails to go out on Tuesdays mornings (data shows that is one of the best times).  Post the content of the email on your blog.  Make sure that the email and the blog have a specific call to action…call me, download the white paper, watch the webcast.

Week 5 – Social Media: It wouldn’t be a marketing campaign these days without leveraging your social media networks.  Take everything you have created and push it all to your social networks (actually, you should be doing this at every stage of this process :-) ) FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter – use it all.  Be sure to tailor the info for the network.  For example, LinkedIn is more polished and professional than FaceBook, so make sure your message and tone is too.  Answer questions on LinkedIn. Join Groups on LinkedIn and FaceBook.  Follow chats in your industry on Twitter.  This is how you find new people and they find you.

Week 6 – Send Greeting Card: Yep, thats right, an old fashioned greeting card.  It can be a “thanks for your business” or maybe a “happy holiday” or even a “looking forward to 2011″ card.  The idea is to connect personally with people.  Everyone is used to getting cards this time of year. Make yours special, hand write a note, wish them the best of luck in 2011.  With all the electronic stuff we get each day, this is a nice touch and will set you apart.

Week 7 – Follow-up: At this point you should be getting responses from your videos, emails, social media, etc.  Now is the time to follow-up.  If possible do this directly, one-on-one.  This is the whole purpose of this exercise, to get prospects contacting you either via phone, email, Twitter, whatever.  Respond to FaceBook messages.  DM to all the folks who RT your message.  This is your top priority.

Week 8 – Relax: Now is the time to put your feet up and enjoy the results of your efforts.

How to Win New Business

megaphoneIt is the million-dollar-question for most entrepreneurs.   In order for your business to grow, you need to win new business, while growing your existing business.  Study after study have proven that it is much cheaper, and much more profitable, to market to an existing customer.  If you already have a relationship with a customer and they buy something else from you (either a product or service) that “sale” didn’t cost you half of what acquiring a new customer would cost.  So, when looking to grow your business, start with customers you already have.

However (and it is a big however), marketing and selling to your existing customers will only get you so far.  Eventually, you need to win new business, find new markets and attract new customers.  I estimate that probably millions of pages have been written on this subject.  But Chris Brogan narrowed it down to 7 Ways to Win New Business.  I like things that are direct and to the point.  I like lists.  And I loved this post.

One of his ideas struck me as critical to the success of most entrepreneurs: Focus on what you do best, and do that even better.

One of the most common “mistakes” I see entrepreneurs make is to try and do everything all at once…even things they don’t like and/or aren’t good at.  The best marketing strategy won’t work if you don’t execute it well.  The best way to make sure you execute well is to….focus on what you do best and do it even better.  If you need help with other stuff, ask for it.  You can find a consultant, contractor or an employee who likes doing what you don’t.  Find the things that you like doing and are good at.  Focus your energies there.  The results will speak for themselves.

Case Study: KidzSack – planning and doing alot!

frontPackaging_op_626x693I first came across Tina’s products while looking for some entertaining and useful stuff for my kids when we travel.  I found the KidzSack and have been a fan ever since.  What I love about this product, and the company founder Tina Hill, is that these handy kids backsacks are practical, thoughtful and tough.

I found out why when I asked Tina to explain her business to me.  Tina planned everything down to the smallest details.  Then she started working…I mean doing things, calling people, sending samples.  She planned a little so that when she started doing stuff it worked.  Here’s what Tina has to say about her experiences building her business and her brand.

Laura: How did you get started with KidzSack?

Tina: I am a 44 year old mom of four who started my business with just $200 about 2 years ago.  Now, I am in over 120 stores internationally including Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton Resorts.

Laura: What was your strategy when starting out?  What made your backpacks different?

Tina: I had to be both unique and creative in my marketing and brand strategies.  First, let me tell you that Kidzsack is an eco friendly, creative backsack for kids ages 4 and up. There are obviously tons of backsacks, backpacks, and sportsacks out there…so what makes mine different?  What would make mine stand out among all the others?  And why is it eco friendly…I mean, everyone is jumping on the eco band wagon these days, right.

Kidzsack fabric is made from 100% recycled cotton and soda bottles making it eco friendly..and it is made in the USA.  I decided from the get go that I needed something to set me apart.  I wanted to be first in a new category…something to give buyers something to really think about. Kidzsack is the only creative backsack on the market that uses recycled fabric.  Something that Whole Foods has taken notice of and I’m now selling there.

Kidzsack packaging is made from cardboard that can be recycled but not just that…being a parent concerned with quality, I’ve made packaging that isn’t entirely enclosing the product.  I want consumers to be able to touch the fabric and see the quality.  It’s not cheap lightweight poly cotton.  The fabric is 10 oz. canvas that the consumer can actually feel for themselves.  The packaging is even mom designed by a local mom!

Kidzsack is mom invented and made in the USA.  I know that when I’m shopping for gifts, seeing something mom invented and made in the USA makes me pause and read more.  Especially in a market where EVERYTHING is made in China.  This also sets me apart from the majority of mass merchandise coming out of China.

Kidzsack is packaged with reusable markers because as a mother of four kids (13, 11, 9, & 7), I understand the importance of buying an activity (arts & crafts item) that can be used again…and again.  How many times have I bought a gift in the past that my kids played with once…and then it got put away on a shelf…or in a closet…never to be played with again and left to collect dust!!  Buying a reusable product, activity is something that consumers are looking for…especially in this economy when everyone is feeling the pinch.

Laura: What have you done to get visibility for your product?

Tina: I have created a  product that is first in a new category; that stands apart from the rest because it’s using materials that other similar products are not. I have contacted every newspaper in every town that I have ever lived in to get them to write a story on me.  I have contacted every eco magazine to get them to do a write up on Kidzsack.  I have e-mailed friends for contacts at networks and that has gotten Kidzsack on CBS NY.  I have networked and e-mailed and blogged and you name it…because I have every intention of making Kidzsack a household name.  I’m trying my hardest to stay true to the USA and am even using local manufacturers for both screenprinting and sewing. I’ve created something that moms can understand because it’s a mom must have.  The Kidzsack solves a problem.  When mom is running out the door…all she has to do is, grab a Kidzsack, throw a juice box in and snack. No more looking for toys, activities, coloring books, crayons…BECAUSE KIDZSACK IS THE ACTIVITY.  Kidzsack is a Fun Creative Bag for Kids on the Go!