In my last article, I shared how that Marie Forleo’s “everything is figuroutable” definitely applies to your marketing. That truth be told, there is nothing about marketing your business that can’t be figured out. There’s no situation, no circumstance, no amount of inner flaw that somehow only you have that somehow makes your marketing mysterious and un-figuroutable. Nuh-uh.
Read it here if you need a refresher. Here I dive into the four steps that help you do the figuring.
These are the steps to take to find your particular answer. They are the building blocks for getting to what works best for you. This is a strategic approach vs. the try the first thing that floats by you or chasing every shiny object approach you may have used in the past.
- GATHER: Every industry and style of business has best practices and types of marketing that are working for others ahead of you. This is not having a few casual conversations with various people who’ve “heard” or “read” things. This is talking to other business owners who are in a similar type of business, both in your industry and those who have a similar model of business but in other industries. It’s also looking for those who are big players in your industry and reading or listening to interviews about how they got started (not what they are doing today in their ginormous business!) It’s about having strategy sessions with marketing professionals and business coaches/consultants like me. It’s about Googling and reading a number of articles (though be specific here, if you Google “best marketing” you will get too broad of a result. Google “best marketing for hairstylist” and you’ll get more specific results) Don’t go down rabbit holes or grab onto one approach at this point in this process, you are only looking to create some understanding about options and gather enough information to sort through. You’ll also want to list things you’ve done that have worked and not worked so far in your own business. These should get tossed into the mix lightly though as you may have been spaghetti shooting efforts and not really enacted one well, or you may be too attached to a particular effort when it’s not considered a best practice anymore. Once you’ve gathered a lot of information, it’s time for step #2.
- DECIDE: Now it’s time to sort, muse about, and try things on in your mind’s eye. First, consider if you have a broad view of the types of marketing suggested for your type of business. If the above search only yielded that you should post 8x/day on FB then go back and get more info. For geographically based businesses and many service businesses, social media may not even be in the top 10 things that you should be doing. Sometimes the top Google searches only yield the “trendy” results. Dig deeper. When you’re sure that you have a range of marketing choices to consider, sort them by what you are drawn to, what excites you, which you think are easy for you, and what you think will be more difficult. For the ones that you are drawn to, you may need to get more info. How long before results should start showing? What are the time or money costs you need to invest to get them going? Remember that interview you listened to about how someone got started? Did they say it took them 3 days or 3 months? Don’t give an automatic no to the efforts that take a while to yield results, like building your email list or getting speaking engagements, and opt for something easy. You’ll want a mix of long term efforts and short to build your business. A true pipeline in your business means you have some jobs or clients right now, and more that are getting to know you that will be ready to work together in a little while. Many new people who come into your world won’t be ready to work together for 6-9 months so it’s best the get these longer-term timeline people coming in as soon as you can. At some point, you have to decide yes or no to the efforts you’ve gathered.
For myself, and for my clients, I use Human Design as a way to help make the final decisions on what to move forward with. It’s a typing system that has a very accurate way of making decisions that are in alignment with your true nature. This works for me, but you may have another way. Figure out how you’ve made good decisions in the past and use that same style to help you make decisions now.
- ENACT: It’s time to step into a few experiments and start trying on some of these efforts. Warning: trying to do too much will lower the chances of something working. You can only have 3-5 marketing efforts happening total in your business if you are the only one doing them. Above that, you need to start bringing in support people. For instance, I only do three things: speaking engagements at events or in interviews, content creation (writing books, blogs, etc.) and building relationships. That’s it. My social media is a blend: I do the content and my assistant does all the formatting, posting, and pinning. Also, remember those little bits of time devoted over a long period really does yield stellar results. When I started writing my book, I thought it would take me like 3 months. It took 2.5 years of only a few hours per week as I was managing clients and my family during that time, too. But looking back, I would never trade this journey as the results for doing so have been spectacular. Everything in marketing starts as an experiment to see if you can get it to work for your business. This is true no matter how long you’ve been in business because every time you enact something new you’re starting something from new. You won’t know if it works until you try it a few times and refine it to get better and better results.
This is the biggest mistake that businesses make: try something once and abandon it as not working. So take the information from your gather stage and list what it’s going to take to get this effort going. Then calendar the activities and give it your best efforts.
- REFINE: If you think marketing is one and done, you are incorrect. It’s often your later efforts that reveal the best results. In the first round of anything, you are managing many variables and possibly learning new skills. As you enact each effort, you have to go back and review what worked and what didn’t. Maybe you need to adjust who you were aiming the effort at, or in how you delivered the message. Or your graphics need some updating. If you are conscious when enacting your marketing, you are learning what you need to do the same and what to do differently. This is a stage you may want to have someone review your efforts with you and help analyze what needs to shift to get better results. And remember, often the shifts are subtle. You might need to adjust something only by say 10% to get a big shift in the return so don’t think that every refinement will be a total redo. Don’t be shy to do your marketing efforts again and again until you have some mastery.
Marketing is organic and more of an art than a science. There’s no magic formula (or we’d all be using it!) so think of it more like a garden instead. You have to plant some seeds, tend to the plants with water and fertilizers, weed, prune, and harvest all in an ongoing fashion. If you only dropped into your garden now and then, it wouldn’t do well.
These steps are a powerful way to move your business forward. But you have to do them in order for it to work! Take a look at the information and ask yourself, how can I make this work for me? You’ll need to personalize it to the get the best results. That’s where the magic happens—when you make it yours.
Linda believes that small business owners can step into a better version of their business when they embrace authenticity and become more fully themselves. Her 25-year marketing career has included Kimpton Hotels, Jamba Juice, and Disney helping her clients win awards and placements in publications like The Wall Street Journal and TIME Magazine, as well as on the front cover of WIRED magazine. You can visit her website here: lindabasso.com or join her FB conversation.