Things We Hear About Marketing


I’ve been working with small to mid-sized, privately-owned businesses for over 20 years. Over and over, this is what I hear the owners say: “Why do I need marketing?” and “I can’t afford marketing.”

Believe me, I can empathize with that, because I was a small-business owner for 10 years and I know how tight money can be. You have to keep careful control of your expenditures and invest wisely…put your money where it’s going to do the most good. Investing in product, people, rent and facilities tend to be top of the list, right?

Indeed, nearly every business owner I’ve ever worked with has all of those in their budget and in their business plan; but very few have allocated monies toward marketing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen them include $25,000-$100,000 in buildout expenses, yet provide nothing for marketing. Or the same in inventory…yet nothing for marketing.

This is so short-sighted. Ultimately costly. And sad. Because it’s one of the contributing factors to the 80% failure rate in small businesses.

Why spend so much precious money yet not invest in a way to get the word out about your business? Do you think “If I build it they will come?” Sorry, wishful thinking.

I think most people say “Why do I need it?” and “I can’t afford it” because marketing is simply out of their wheelhouse—out of their area of expertise and comfort. They’ve started a business because they’re good at something. But the single greatest mistaken belief (see “The E-Myth”) is that being really good at what you do or create is enough. It simply isn’t. You need to determine what you’re NOT good at…and get the help from professionals who ARE good at it.

Enter marketing.

What’s wonderful about the world today is that there are so many ways to market, which also makes it confusing and dizzying. You need the help of a professional to wade through all of those options to determine what media is going to be best for you, let alone the message that will be most relevant and persuasive.

Marketing is about understanding your market, your competition, how your business/product fits within that environment, and what makes it different or better. It’s about discovering why someone would spend money on your service or product vs someone else’s, and how they’re going to find out about you, let alone find you. It’s about figuring out who you should be marketing to, and where. It’s about how to make the most of the investment you’ve made in your business, let alone your marketing budget. It’s a lot to figure out.

The other thing I often see is that the owner is myopic about their business. In other words, they have mistaken, naive or undeveloped perceptions of just who and what they are.

A marketing expert represents fresh, unbiased eyes–the value of which simply cannot be overestimated. We’ll see things you don’t. I promise you. We’ll see opportunities you may not, problems, issues and challenges you may not. We’ll come up with ideas you wouldn’t or couldn’t have. Or we’ll be able to help you execute the ideas you do have.

The other thing I hear is: “I can do it myself” (be honest, are you saying this now?).

To that, refer back to the previous paragraphs and really truly ask yourself if that’s true. Because the best path to failure is to start with a bad impression or one that is simply “less than” who you are. To hiccup your way into the market. It’s impossible, or at least incredibly expensive, to undo a negative image you can inadvertently create.

I leave you with this final food for thought: the things people say about you and your product/business will make or break you. So get professional help with marketing. Put it in your budget. Ask yourself what the cost of failure will be. Ask yourself what a new client is worth. Then please say “Ok, I’ll reach out for marketing.”