Last time we covered the painful, expensive mistakes made by Big Dumb Companies. That was fun, but the clever Michael Martine had the brilliant idea of talking about what small companies do that’s just as dumb.
Which saved me all the trouble of bending my brain to think of a post topic, so yay for Michael.
This week I’m going to try something new. Instead of giving you one post that’s zillions of screens long, I’m breaking the post up into more manageable chunks. We’ll see if you guys like it or freak out to get multiple posts a week from me. Let me know!
So today you get Dumb Thing #1:
Dumb Thing #1: Deciding you’re “Just Not Good” at marketing
I hear this all the time from solopreneurs. “I have the best handknitted dog sweaters/organic tattoo parlor/gourmet hair products in the city, there’s no one else coming close to putting out stuff as nice as mine. I’m getting some clients here and there, but you know, I’m just not good at marketing. I’m working 18 hours a day, so I figure it’s got to work out eventually.”
Do you tell the IRS “I’m just not good at bookkeeping”? (If you do, you might want to rethink that.)
Do you tell your vendors “I’m just not good at paying invoices”?
I can’t remember who I’m stealing this from, but if you’re going to decide it’s ok to give up on marketing, you might as well take all your working capital to Las Vegas and blow it on whatever combination of hookers and drugs that might appeal to you. It saves time, and the end result is the same.
It’s not rocket science
Business is about relationships and solving problems. Marketing is just communication about those things. If you have a working language center in your brain, you can get good at marketing.
A strongly related dumb thing is thinking you can turn the whole shebang over to an ad agency. (See: Crucial Facts Your Ad Agency Forgot to Mention). Agencies have useful resources, but they’ll never know your business or your customers like you do. And most agencies that handle small business are, frankly, terrible. (A few are amazing. But I’ve seen a lot of terrible.)
You need to know your marketing message so well it’s completely second nature. Know your unique selling proposition, know your benefits and your features, know your individual story, know your customers, know the media that make sense for those customers and that message.
Then and only then will you be ready to make good use of an agency. Until then (sorry), you have to get good at marketing.
Let us know in the comments what about marketing you just don’t think you can get good at! We’ll help.
7 Dumb Things Small Businesses Do
- #1: Deciding You’re “Just Not Good” at Marketing
- #2: Going Without a Business Plan
- #3: Getting Upside-Down
- #4: Thinking It’s About You
- #5: The Worst Number
- #6: Ingratitude
- #7: Following the Herd
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Michael Martine - Remarkablogger says
Glad to help. But I would like to point out that giving up on marketing is not the same as taking all your money and spending it on hookers and drugs, because if you spend it on marketing then you don’t get any hookers or drugs. Tough call.
What a great idea for a series – although, I have a least one client who (in not so many words) has told me they’re just not good at paying invoices.
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Sonia Simone says
Analytical as always, Michael. 🙂
Simon, that is too hysterical.
Wendy Cholbi says
People who say they’re “not good at marketing” (and I’ve been terribly guilty of this myself) are also quick to segregate and label certain activities as “marketing.” Activities they don’t want to do (like cold-calling, or going to chamber of commerce mixers).
When I realized that nearly everything I do is marketing (as Seth Godin is fond of saying, and as you explain in a previous post) it became a bit less scary.
I also get to choose marketing activities that are congruent with my business intentions (cold-calling is so not me, but not because it’s “marketing.” Reading and commenting on blogs is stuff I’d do anyway, for fun, and it happens to be “marketing.”).
Do I win the most-parentheses-in-a-single comment award (should you choose to create one)?
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Sonia Simone says
I love a good sprinkling of parentheses, personally.
I’m pretty sure I’ve done all of the dumb things at least once, and this one is probably first for me because it’s the one that’s been hardest for me to overcome. Yeah, if cold calling = marketing, I think I might choose to starve. Chamber of Commerce mixers are nearly as bad. I basically put together the kind of marketing I do to avoid the things I hate. (Esp. cold calling. Ugh. Ptui.)
Very thought provoking. I like the comparisons with things like telling the tax-man you aren’t any good at bookkeeping. But I think the other commentors have hit the nail on the head with the fact that some of us really don’t know what “marketing” is or could be. So the idea we have of it is kind of icky (actually REALLY icky). But maybe that paragraph near the end starting “You need to know…” is what we need to get going.
On the bookeeping thing, one of the first things I did was hire an accountant. I was surprised how amazed he was at the material I gave him. I figured keeping a simple spreadsheet of income and expenses was kind of basic but apparently some of his clients just give him a shoe-box full of paper and he has to actually build their accounts before he can do their taxes. He charges me less because he only has to do my taxes. I figure I pay him to know the tax code and to ask me for things I might have forgotten to give him because I didn’t know it was relevant. He also thought I was the only person on the planet that took that advice about putting a percentage of my income in a savings account for taxes as I earn it. But that was a good tip. I pay myself a tax refund every April.
My two biggest problems (and there are lots of others as well (and I like parentheses too)) are that I am reluctant to blow my own horn and that I’m afraid of following up (it appears too pushy to me).
I like the online networking tactics and I am learning to use them, but I still need to get comfortable with some of the older tech marketing too.
Oh yeah, since hookers and drugs combine to 0% for me I’d have to add golf into my Vegas mix to get the money spent!
And that’s what I kept telling myself till date.
But let’s take it this way. If I am good at something, why not improve my skill in that field and not worrying about marketing and instead, hire/partner with someone – who is really good at marketing?
Of course, I should have the sense to hire the marketer at least.
Very true. I know a lot of people that have ventured onto businesses of their own only to flop because they never properly (or at all) marketed their biz.
Lurline Halliman says
Basically I am just shy, and I’ve always told myself I don’t have the gift of marketing. To me, people who do well at this thing were born with a knack for it. Shy people can’t market and sell, right? My product is a book. How does one truly market a book, especially by word of mouth and particularly if I come across someone or somethree I know could definitely benefit from the book?
G McBride says
Suggest a great brochure … maybe one you print yourself. Be sure to emphasize your credibility points. Plus, what the book will do for them.