by David Rogers
You have drawn new clients through savvy advertising, well done! Yet, there’s more to uncover toward jet-setting your marketed foundation.
How do you create a business that lasts?
For small business owners, that’s no small question. You’ve poured blood, sweat, tears, and no small amount of money into building your business from nothing. Ensuring it survives, grows, and endures is a nonstop concern.
But creating something lasting is harder than ever. The Internet has made e-commerce and electronic marketing tools cheap and easy to use, allowing new businesses to pop up literally overnight, offer incredible discounts, and also try to steal your customers.
There’s only one way to sustainably combat these predators: create the kind of business that your competition can’t take away with less expensive pricing. If your customers cannot be stolen because they’d never dream of going anywhere else for any price, then not only is your business immune to fly-by-night predators, but it’s also built on the kind of foundation that endures.
Building this kind of unshakable foundation takes a full-operation effort. It takes more than attracting better customers through a new kind of advertising, increasing your advertising budget, changing your website, or adding new keywords to your SEO.
Creating a business that lasts takes more than these things, because building a stable foundation isn’t about any particular advertising decision … it’s about your entire marketing and advertising strategy.
Marketing isn’t an activity to be checked off a list, nor is it an exercise to be shuffled off to the lowest bidder — it’s the literal lifeblood of your business.
Not All Marketing and Advertising are Created Equal.
As a small business owner, this is probably not news to you. The Small Business Administration recommends spending at least seven percent of revenues on marketing and advertising, a number that most small businesses are nowhere close to investing.
And in many cases, there is a good reason for the hesitation. Even if you haven’t personally experienced a marketing horror story, chances are you’ve heard one from fellow business owners or read about one online. There’s a lot of fear to unpack for business owners, and it usually boils down to the concern that their investment in marketing will be wasted.
This is a valid fear. Very few businesses can afford to invest money into marketing and advertising that doesn’t produce results. And it’s not hard for that fear to drive down marketing budgets far below what a business actually needs in order to grow.
But the critical word here is results. And results are what clearly define the difference between real marketing that works and marketing that has just been … completed.
When marketing produces results, it drives quality customers who are seeking a relationship, who are ready to buy, who refer friends and family, and — critically — who won’t leave you for the next deep discount that comes along.
The opposite of marketing that produces results is marketing that produces activity. And there is an enormous difference between paying somebody to perform marketing as an activity versus hiring somebody with skill and knowledge to create marketing that consistently produces results.
In truth, marketing is so much more than the mail we send, the website we display on the internet, and the social media we post.
Hiring an intern to post to social media so you have some posts on Facebook is spending money on activity. Hiring a family member to create a website so you have something online is again, simply spending money on activity. And hiring an advertising company that only reports happy news instead of delivering real, tangible results with their work is spending money on activity.
Marketing isn’t an activity to be checked off a list, nor is it an exercise to be shuffled off to the lowest bidder — it’s the literal lifeblood of your business. Creating something that lasts demands you attract quality, trusting, loyal customers with your advertising, and that doesn’t happen by chance. The right marketing company will have the case studies and testimonials to prove it.
Marketing is Much More Than Checking Off a To-Do List.
That isn’t the full picture, though, because everything we’ve talked about so far is advertising, which is only one component of marketing.
In truth, marketing is so much more than the mail we send, the website we display on the Internet, and the social media we post.
Marketing is also the customer service you provide. It’s the way you answer your phone, the uniforms your employees wear to the job, and the wrapped service vehicle they drive (and the way they drive them). It’s the estimate that gets sent to your customer, and the well-defined policy your team uses to educate customers and execute your services or install your products.
These are the things that truly make your business stand apart. They are what allows you to create lasting lifelong relationships with your customers — the kind of relationships where no discount can lure them away, because they know nobody cares for them the way you do.
Which is why I’ll say again: marketing is not a task or activity to be checked off of a list. It’s a constant effort to perfect every point of customer contact that must be done with the highest level of skill.
When marketing produces results, it drives quality customers who are seeking a relationship.
If you invest in the kind of advertising that attracts high-quality customers but neglect your marketing, you risk wasting it. That’s because marketing encompasses your parking lot, the sign displaying your business, your front desk, and much more. If a new customer has to drive through a pothole-littered parking lot and walk into a dingy reception area, do you really think they’re going to trust you with their business?
Similarly, if your customer service is excellent and your image and processes are immaculate but you’re still building your business using advertising that attracts discount-seeking customers, you’ll never build a loyal customer base that ensures long-term success.
Marketing and advertising must both be executed with precision, skill, and coordination, or they won’t work at all.
This year, as you look forward to solidifying the foundation of your business and building something that endures and thrives, pay special attention to how you’re considering your marketing. Are your advertising and marketing aligned? And, are they focused on producing the kind of results that give you the confidence to invest in further growing your company?
These are the keys to creating and nurturing a brand that truly stands apart from your competition, and is able to survive, grow, and endure.