Thursday August 28, 2014
This month marks my 6th year as an entrepreneur (how did that happen?). Over the last 6 years I’ve had one business fail (big time), one that evened out and one that made it (it’s this one in case you were wondering).
According to many of the successful entrepreneurs I know, I’m right on track. All of them have had failures before they hit the jackpot. When I realized that it’s been 6 years since my first home based business, I couldn’t help but reflect on what I’ve learned over the years. It’s been so much. Deciding to venture out into the unknown land of entrepreneurship has been one of the best blessings of my life. It’s helped shape me in ways I didn’t know it would. I’ve learned about things I never knew existed (who knew what a split test was or shadow work?) and I’ve become a braver, bolder and smarter version of myself.
This week, I want to share with you 6 Big Marketing Lessons I’ve Learned In 6 Years Of Entrepreneurship. Marketing itself is a big topic but there are some fundamentals that will stand the test of time.
1. Marketing is for you, not your future clients.
This point sounds counter-intuitive, I know. But I learned this one the hard way and here is what it means. Business like life, goes through ebbs and flows. You as the business owner have times where you feel uber confident and times where you wonder what the heck you got into business for in the first place.
I can tell you with certainty that if you aren’t marketing yourself properly it has more to do with how you feel about your business than anything. You see when I was wasn’t marketing that well or consistently, it was because secretly I was either scared, discouraged, feeling the ‘what the heck I am doing’ feeling or worried about actually getting all the clients I wanted (can I really help them and be successful?).
When you are marketing your business consistently and strategically it is because you are confident about yourself and your business. You are ready for clients, you are ready for success and nothing is going to stop you. You’ve got lives to change and it doesn’t matter what other people think, what works or doesn’t work or if you fall flat on your face. You will just pick yourself up, get to the next highest mountain top, wave your flag, shout it out loud or die trying. Right?
If you don’t feel the latter, take a step back and get refocused. You’re in the game, so you might as well play your best hand.
When you really get this point, it changes EVERYTHING (yes, I used caps because I really mean it).
2. Your brand is critical to your success and I’m not talking about your logo.
Branding. It’s not just your logo anymore. I talk about this with my clients regularly. Branding isn’t just your logo, colours and website. It’s everything.
Your branding includes:
- Yes, your logo, colours and website.
- Navigation on your site.
- Your content, message and meaning.
- How you present yourself to the world online and offline (even what you wear to events).
- The life you lead (aka… are you walking proof of your message?)
- How you treat your customers and prospects.
- Your follow up materials (including emails).
- Your consistency.
- Your pictures and images.
- Who you associate with (partner with, talk to online, etc.).
- What you put on your Facebook personal profile (and twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.)
- Your employees and their behaviour within the company and to your customers and prospects.
- Your marketing and advertising.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point here. You are your brand. Even if your logo says your business name, you are still the brand. Even if you have 10 employees, you are still the brand.
What this means for you is:
Ensure your brand is authentic to who you are. People can smell a fake a mile away. Don’t try to be something you aren’t. Just be you. People want to do business with awesome people; not businesses or someone pretending to be someone else. Just you.
Embrace your human side into your brand. You’re a person, just like your clients. You have family and friends. You take vacations and you like to have fun. Show your human side in your marketing (the degree of which will be determined by your brand), but remember that people do business with people, not companies. Even large companies are associated with their founders.
3. Fly by the seat of your pants marketing is not as effective as planned, strategic marketing (no really, it’s true).
Another point that seems obvious (“Duh Jennifer, planning is always the smarter way to go.”), but you might be surprised how many coaches and entrepreneurs alike, don’t do it. While I do like to leave room for random great ideas that come at the most unexpected moments, if you consistently run your marketing by doing everything last minute and on the fly, you are doing yourself and your potential clients a huge disservice.
It’s time to strap up your boots and start running your business like a business. Can you imagine a magazine company planning an issue last minute? Not a chance. They are probably planning next years Spring magazine while Summer is still here. You’ve got to plan ahead. You’ve got to think things through, look at the little details that make a big difference and be able to carefully evaluate what is working for you and what isn’t. You can’t do that if you are consistently making things up as you go along.
Get a marketing calendar and plan. You’ll be glad you did.
4. If you are an entrepreneur, you are a marketer (embrace this and love it).
This one seems hard for some coaches to embrace. I’ve even had a client say, “but isn’t this why I hired you?” Haha.. well yes, it is. However, I wouldn’t be a very good coach if I kept everything to myself. The truth is, my goal is to help my clients become fantastic marketers. Why? Because if people don’t know about you, they can’t buy from you.
-->Ultimately, as the business owner, why wouldn’t you want to know about the area of your business that will make or break your success? It’s preposterous! <--
You want to become a great marketer so you can work together with your marketing coach, or go through a program and be able to magnify the effort and understand why things work they way they do and help make solid decisions for your business together.
At the end of the day, no one is more intimate with your business than you and it’s your business. So do yourself a favour and embrace your inner marketer!
5. Tactics come and go but strategy remains consistent.
Never was there a time when marketing tactics come in droves, then now. Technology has changed everything. Social media sites are popping up faster than weeds in your lawn, and with more choice can come more confusion.
Here is your rule of thumb: Go where your customers are. If they are in a lot of places, pick one or two, master them and then move on. That’s it. Don’t overcomplicate it. When you are a 1-man or 1-woman show you only have so many resources to go around. Don’t try to master 10,000 social media sites at once when the reality is you are going to get so overwhelmed that you aren’t going to anything.
At the end of the day marketing strategy remains the same. Use attraction marketing to draw the right people to you. Add more value than anyone else in your market. Give away your best stuff. Be kind to people and make them feel special. Show up and do the work. Relationships first. Sales second.
The basics work. Don’t mess with them.
6. Test. Test. Test.
One of the best parts about technology is the ability it gives us to test what is working and what isn’t. Make sure you are always testing your marketing. Don’t get hung up on whether something is working or not. Just find out what works better and go with that.
Often times something that you thought was utterly amazing and out of this world, won't work (I know, this happened to me and yes, my ego was bruised). However, it doesn’t matter what works, it just matters that it does. So be open to your marketing and what makes your market respond well. Do more of what makes them happy and you’ll be happy to. Just remember you can do it faster when you test (more on this in next week’s blog post).
There you have it: 6 Big Marketing Lessons I’ve Learned In 6 Years Of Entrepreneurship.
Which one resonates with you the most and why? Is there one you think I missed?
Let me know in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear from you!