A local radio station in my area Rejoice 100.9, ran their own advertisement to gage new clients that said, “Not advertising on radio is like winking in the dark…you know that you are doing it, but no one else does.” I thought it was quite clever to show that your non-marketing efforts were lost in the sea of darkness where the only sure one to show up is you. But we all know that starting a business is about sharing a product or service to a target audience for an attractive price to hopefully take your piece of the entrepreneurial pie or market share. Many new start-ups suffer because they are winking in the dark. Not enlisting the help of a professional marketing service is a great way to go out of business. Just because your family and closest friends think it’s a great idea, doesn’t speak for your target audience. A comprehensive marketing strategy can help a business mark its territory, brand their image and create a resilient presence.
The word itself mark-it, if you are southern, denotes a drawing the line between you and your competitors. Like a dog marking its territory, you want to “… ‘stake a claim’ to a particular space, area, or object by marking it, using a variety of methods at levels of intensity.” (Humane Society, 2018) You are making a statement of I am here to establish your brand.
Marketing helps with branding. They are not one in the same. “In the mind of customers, your brand isn’t the product itself, nor is it your company’s messaging, logo, website design, advertisements, etc. Your brand consists of the perceptions customers have about the business and how it makes them feel.” (Prendergast, 2015) A marketing campaign supports your business by cultivating trust now with continued trust for the future. It projects who you are as a business; not what you have to offer.
Many years ago, Wachovia’s, now Wells Fargo, slogan was “We are here. Where are you? Let’s get started.” They made their presence known in the community by intentionally cutting the lights on with advertising; hence no winking in the dark expecting customers to visit a branch because they were on the corner. Founded in 1879, Wachovia stood firm in the financial industry for almost 150 years. (Wells Fargo, 2018).
As an entrepreneur, we all have an expertise, passion or goals which cost. Small businesses that struggle to get off the ground often cut marketing budgets or have none at all due to trying to keep the doors open. Word of mouth and referrals are not a sustainability plan. In order for your business to grow, you should enlist the assistance of a professional marketing firm. Decide why you should obtain professional marketing services, then look for a firm that is compatible. It should never be like a blind date. But instead, it is similar to an online dating site. Fill out the profile of your company; then explore your obtains of compatibility. Do your research before you set up the first date. There is a process for finding the right one and you may kiss a few frogs before you commit to that royal an agency that meets your expectations. Let’s dig a little deeper into the reasons, process and expected outcomes for enlisting the help of a professional marketing service. The reasons are clear. The process may be tedious, but the outcomes outweigh the tensions.
Why do you need a professional marketing service?
As a new business owner, you may not have a pulse on the market. Yes, the classes that I am taking for this graduate program give me a snapshot of the real world of business ownership. It prepares me for what to expect and what I need to consider. It is a road map for what I can handle and what I should sub out. If you are expecting growth, you need help. Instead of picking your battles, pick your victories. What do you do very well? Allow others to help with the rest. “…the key is to stick to what you’re good at and find a partner for the rest. Marketing is a great place to start your outsourcing experiment because branding and outreach needs typically change at a rapid pace.” (Dearing, 2013)In the beginning you need to decide where to invest to ensure success or at least ensure continued growth and sustainability. I must continue to stress that word of mouth marketing may not be enough. You have to be strategic. Your real competitors will be and they have a pulse on what your particular market is doing.
With so many moving parts to a business, decide who your key team players will be. A marketing firm or consultant should be considered. Hiring outside help will create a success story for your business! Firms specialize in the business of moving your business. They have years of market research and trends specific to your business and market area. What could take you months to research is readily available through an outside agency in minutes. Their job is to be in the know so that you can focus on the product or service. Let them be great at what they do so you can be great at what you do.
Another reason to hire a firm or consultant is for the reality check. As an owner, you may not always be able to be objective. They can offer a realistic perspective about your business in relation to others in the market and give you the most advantageous plan to make your product or service a must have instead of an alternative. You pay them to be objective and honest. Whereas your view may take some emotional and illogical turns that could cost you growth. They will offer you a roadmap to follow and adjust as the business progresses allowing your dream to explode into a reality right before your eyes. They will strategically place your business in the eyes, ears and mouths of your market. A firm or consultant will give your business a face and a voice.
Like any relationship, when you make an investment, there is an expected return or ROI, known as return on investment. It is important to interview your potential marketing partner. You want to know that they not only have capabilities, but they have a proven track record of success. Inspect what you expect. Establish a master plan or blueprint of your expectations and come to an agreement with what is doable. There are many cuts of beef from a cow. You may talk prime rib or filet mignon, but your budget is sirloin. Or just the opposite, the firm may boast T-bone, but they only possess ground beef reach. Setting realistic and attainable goals are essential to meet or exceed expectations. Goals should also be measurable. There should be benchmarks for reaching the goals which allow you to track the success of your investment. Benchmarks also give you a place to park and evaluate for change. This change could be internal (financial, management, etc.) or external (shift in market trends, the local economy, or political shifts). You want to have a solid plan with an open mind that allows for flexibility and creativity.
Your reasons for trusting someone else to tell your story- marketing is the story of your business-could range from small beginnings for the mom & pop small town local shop on a two-way street in Smallville, to the major technology race on the 26 lanes I-10 in Houston. This is your brand; your statement of who you are. This partnership is not just about the product or service, but it is about who you are as a company. Whatever road map you choose with a marketing partner becomes a track for your success. Every aspect of this journey means engagement by you in the process in order to see the desired outcomes. Whether you start off big with a major campaign or small with event promotion, always remember you are the driver and they are along for your ride to success.
Dearing, G. (2013, December 18). Capital One SparkVoice: 5 Things to Look for When Hiring Your Marketing Agency. Retrieved April 30, 2018, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/capitalonespark/2013/12/18/5-things-to-look-for-when-hiring-your-marketing-agency/#6a7bc30c7bfa
Prendergast, C. (2015, October 08). 3 Marketing Mistakes Business Makes That Hurt the Brand. Retrieved April 29, 2018, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/251307
Urine-Marking: Why Dogs Mark Their Territory. (n.d.). Retrieved April 30, 2018, from http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/dogs/tips/urine_marking.html
Wachovia Is Now Wells Fargo. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2018, from https://www.wellsfargo.com/about/corporate/wachovia