It is easy for someone who has spent most of his adult life selling advertising to tell others to do just that. However, there are two problems with that assertion. First, although I’ve earned most of my income through advertising sales, I haven’t sold very much advertising directly. Second, and perhaps more painfully, if I push you to advertise, I’m certainly expressing a “do as I say, not as I do” concept, since our organization has spent pitifully small sums of money on advertising in the past two decades, and will likely keep the advertising budget at such a low-level you might almost not imagine it is there.
There are good reasons for both of these observations, and both provide clues about how you can achieve much greater marketing effectiveness for tiny cash investments.
In the first level, I’ve always seen myself as a journalist, interested in news and the world. The thought of working as a hired hand for some publishing conglomerate however was against my values, so I solved the problem by starting my own publishing business. I learned enough about advertising sales — and developed the rudimentary skills to understand how advertising works — because these are essential qualities of a successful publishing business. With this knowledge, too, I could hire or contract with competent advertising sales representatives or brokers.
How can this insight help you? Consider your core abilities and skills, and the extra skills you need to run the business. Obviously, if you are a tradesperson, your trade is the first core skill. Then you must learn what other things you need to know learn enough so you have a basic, but useful, understanding of what you need to know. So, yes, you’ll need to bone up on basic marketing and advertising concepts and figure out where you will move from a do-it-yourself level to hiring/contracting others.
In the ideal world, you might be able to negotiate pay-for-performance marketing — but the fees and commissions on the various offers out there may be so high to deter you. Or you can pick up the skills you need to become an expert in simple lead generation and then set out to develop the leads. Websites don’t need to cost much and you can elect either to do yours yourself or work with a vendor competent and experienced in contractor sites — at least to get you started.
The point is you can’t abrogate control or simply delegate this work away, at least at the start. You need enough knowledge and involvement to see under the hood and be able to tell the smoke and mirrors from substance in vendors selling you their marketing services.
The second observation, and maybe the most important one, is you don’t need to force things too hard if you deliver undeniable value to your clients, and treat them so well they will be enthusiastic to return to you for more business. This point is especially magnified if your clients have influence and can refer others.
I’ve learned that by putting the extra bit of effort into product/publication quality and community service/relevance, by treating clients with respect, and working with employees and contractors who share these values, that repeat and recommendation business generates most of our revenue.
Marketing, eh? If you are going to do anything, just do your work really well and then you can gently build the frame of reference to spread the word, with testimonials, client appreciation events, and lots of repeat business.
You don’t have to turn yourself into a contorted pretzel, sell your soul, or drain your pocketbook and time with unpleasant tasks to be effective at marketing. However, you need to spend enough time to truly understand the fundamentals, have enough hands-on involvement to see what is happening around you, and finally you need to truly deliver the goods to your clients and contractors/employees to achieve great marketing results.
You’ll find that understanding and implementing this advice is quite simple, but may not be that easy. But it will be a whole lot more effective than flailing around hoping for a marketing guru to come to your rescue with a simple step-by-step all-inclusive answer.
You can reach Mark Buckshon by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning (613) 699-2057 ext. 224.